As Bobbie Kelsey begins her second season as the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball coach tonight, she feels more comfortable knowing what makes her team tick.
On the visitors’ bench at the Kohl Center, first-year UW-Milwaukee coach Kyle (Black) Rechlicz also takes comfort in having firsthand knowledge of the Badgers’ roster. Just last season the former Badgers’ 3-point sharpshooter was an assistant to Kelsey and she helped recruit UW’s freshmen.
“I think it will be an exciting atmosphere coming back to my alma mater,” Rechlicz said. “I am very close with the (UW) staff. Bobbie was a great mentor for me in the year I was there.
“But this game is not about me or us as a staff. It’s about the girls. It’s about getting to play a game.”
Kelsey goes into the 6 p.m. game anticipating an intense effort from Rechlicz’s Panthers, who defeated host Chicago State 82-58 in their opener Friday night.
“Kyle is a very good coach,” Kelsey said. “She’s going to have her kids playing hard. … She’s a very high-energy person. She played at a high level when she was a player. I’m excited to coach against her, and it will be a battle. But, hey, we’re supposed to win.
“I know they are coming in with a little chip on their shoulder, saying, ‘Hey, we’re the underdogs. We’re the little guys.’ They’re going to bring a good team in here, and we have to be ready to play.”
Told Kelsey’s comment, Rechlicz agreed, but only in part.
“I think high energy is right; the girls are showing a lot of energy,” said Rechlicz, who ranks third among UW players in 3-point field goals made for her career (191 from 1998 to 2002).
“But we have no chip on the shoulder. It’s just a game — another game on the schedule. We are excited to have the chance to play. We are hoping to make it a great rivalry game.”
The Badgers have lost only once in 22 games vs. UWM. UW, after two exhibition wins, hopes to improve on last season’s 9-20 record; UW-Milwaukee was 9-21.
Kelsey enters the game wanting her young team to better understand the triangle offense’s nuances while in recent practices emphasizing defense, rebounding and boxing out.
“Because we are undersized, we really have to start making a better, more concerted effort to box out and box back,” Kelsey said. “I think people think, ‘Well, I’m standing in front of her.’ Well, sweetheart, she’s not going to stop just because you’re standing there. You’ve got to put your body on a body.”
Rechlicz has encouraged her young team — led by Angela Rodriguez, Sami Tucker and Emily Decorah of Waunakee — to play a fast-paced style.
“I love my team,” Rechlicz said. “I love how hard they work. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Said UW point guard Morgan Paige: “(Rechlicz) is going to be ready and have something cooked up her sleeve for us. It’s going to be a dogfight, and it’s going to be really exciting.”