Badgers hire Stanford assistant

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Jeff Potrykus
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
— Bobbie Kelsey, speaking with an intoxicating mix of passion and poise, didn’t waste a second in sharing her vision of the Wisconsin women’s basketball program.

“This is a top program or I wouldn’t be here,” Kelsey, an assistant at Stanford the last four seasons, said Monday after she was introduced as the sixth head coach in program history. “I could have just stayed at Stanford and be satisfied with that.

“This program can be great. Not just good, great. It can be on the national level. You can win national championships here. You’re in a great location.

“It’s not in the middle of nowhere. You can get to major metropolitan cities from here in two hours. What’s not to love?”

Kelsey, 38, replaces Lisa Stone, who was fired last month after eight seasons at UW.

Contract terms were not revealed Monday.

However, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said neither annual salary nor length of contract was discussed during the interview process. Alvarez said he would meet with Kelsey to work out a contract.

Stone’s annual salary for 2010-’11 was $281,146.

Kelsey and UW-Green Bay coach Matt Bollant generally were considered to top two candidates.

According to Alvarez, UW officials considered the hiring of a rising assistant from a top program such as Stanford vs. a proven head coach at a mid-major program such as UW-Green Bay.

“I think it’s all about who is in the position,” Alvarez said. “It is obvious we’ve had success here by hiring coaches who previously had been head coaches at a smaller school.

“And we’ve hired coaches here who have been successful at other programs as assistants and come in here and been very successful.

“You can look at it either way. We did look at it both ways. And then we had to weigh everything but it gets down to that individual person and somebody that you believe can take this program where we believe this program should be.”

Kelsey, a native of Pontiac, Mich., helped the Cardinal to three Final Four appearances in five years and was a member of the 1992 national championship team. She was a team co-captain in 1995 and ‘96, was voted the team’s Most Inspirational Player in 1992 and ‘96 and was named the team’s most improved player in 1993. She earned her B.A. in communication from Stanford in 1996.

She does have one tie to the UW program. Kelsey was in her second season as an assistant at Florida in 1999-2000 when the Gators lost to UW, 75-74, in the WNIT title game at the Kohl Center.

Asked how long it took her to accept the job once it was offered, Kelsey said: “About two seconds.”

Asked whether observers would be surprised to hear her talk about national championships at a program that has never won a league title, Kelsey

didn’t flinch.

“People are going to make comments no matter what you say,” she said. “If you don’t think big then it’s not going to happen. Now I’m not saying next year. I’m not getting up here making promises I cannot deliver.

“I’ve heard coaches say: ‘We’re going to win a national championship.’

“I’m not saying that. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. But I know what it takes to win a national championship...

“You must get players that can get you there. And you must have a system and a plan in place to help them achieve that.”

UW has nine players returning from last season and four players have signed national letters of intent to join the program next fall.

Kelsey said she considers both the returning players and incoming freshmen her players. If those players are not part of the UW program next season it will be their decision, not hers.

“I believe in these women that they want to do well,” she said “And I told them it doesn’t have to be two years from now. Not ‘when I get my recruits.’

“What is that? You know? They are my recruits. They are my players. I don’t look at them any different than if I had recruited them.”

Kelsey will be the sixth coach in the history of the program, which debuted in 1974-’75.

Stone took over in 2003 and ‘04 and posted 128-119 record in eight seasons. Stone, a native of Oregon, Wis., led UW to the NCAA tournament just once.

UW failed to qualify for postseason play in each of her first three seasons. During that time, UW’s overall record was a combined 33-51.

The Badgers qualified for the WNIT in 2007, ‘08 and ‘09 before securing an NCAA berth in 2010. The Badgers lost in the opening round but finished 21-11.

This past season, UW was 9-3 in the league and 14-10 overall before losing senior Tara Steinbauer (knee) in a loss at Iowa on Feb. 16.

That started a run in which UW lost three of its last four regular-season games to finish 10-6 in the league and 15-13 overall.

UW then suffered a 63-56 loss to Illinois in the Big Ten Conference tournament before accepting a WNIT bid.

The Badgers’ season ended with a second-round loss to Illinois State.

The UW players set to return next season met with Kelsey earlier Monday and attended her introductory news conference.

Guard Jade Davis, one of three players entering their final season of eligibility, loved to hear Kelsey talk of winning big.

“I’m excited,” Davis said when asked about her expectations for the 2011-’12 season. “I’m dreaming big. Definitely NCAA champ…tournament.”

NCAA Championship?

“I caught myself,” Davis said, laughing. “All this championship talk. Definitely the NCAA tournament, definitely.”

Last updated: 2:16 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

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