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Bobbie Kelsey, Morgan Paige, UW women's basketball
New University of Wisconsin women's basketball coach Bobbie Kelsey talks to a handful of returning players, including Morgan Paige (left), after being introduced to the media on Monday.

Bobbie Kelsey's sweater was more of a Stanford shade of cardinal than a University of Wisconsin hue. And while the UW is not likely alter its color scheme to match her wardrobe, it certainly would welcome a Stanford style women's basketball program.

Kelsey, a former Stanford player and an assistant coach at the national power the past four years, was introduced Monday as the sixth head coach in the program's 38-year history. 

In selecting Kelsey, 38, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez made it clear he anticipated she would bring a level of success that, if not exactly matching that of Stanford, would at least come several shades closer than any of her predecessors.

Kelsey, 38, was selected following a national search to replace Lisa Stone, who was fired last month after eight seasons that produced a 128-119 record and just one NCAA tournament appearance.

That's a record Alvarez fully expects to change under Kelsey.

"One of the questions I asked was what separates UConn, Stanford, Tennessee, Notre Dame ... those schools that are always in the Final Four, from the rest of the pack," Alvarez said. "If you haven't been there, maybe it's pretty hard to answer that question."

Kelsey has been there. She was a member of the 1992 Stanford national championship team and made three Final Four appearances during her five-year playing career. As an assistant coach, she went to the Final Four in each of her four seasons, reaching the championship game twice.

"All I know is success," Kelsey said.

She also knows that if UW had known the same level of success, it wouldn't have been in the market for a new coach. But while UW's women's basketball history pales in comparison to Stanford's, Kelsey is confident that gulf can be bridged.

"Obviously, the program is not where it wants to be," she said. "That's why a change is made. This is a top class program. Or else I wouldn't be here. I could've stayed at Stanford and been 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. What's not to love?"

Kelsey knows that the key to reaching that level of success is recruiting. While Stanford is one of the few schools that is able to recruit nationally, she plans to focus her recruiting attention primarily to the Midwest and use her connections around the country to find any good matches.

As for what separates the traditional powers from the rest of the college basketball world, Kelsey believes much of it is the continuity that comes from having long-term coaches like Tara VanDerveer at Stanford, Geno Auriemma at Connecticut and Muffet McGraw at Notre Dame. 

But having watched her Stanford team lose in the national semifinals on a last-second shot to relative upstart Texas A&M, she knows that it's possible to build a winning program outside of the traditional powers.

"Those coaches have been there forever," she said. "When you have a lot of change or turnover, it's a little harder. But those places weren't always good either.

"You have to bring in the players. Once you get that one blue-chipper that says I want to go there and make a difference, the ball starts rolling and you've got to keep it going as a coach. That's what it's going to take for a Wisconsin. It's not going to be overnight. I'm not saying the championship will be won next year. It's going to take time, but it can be done."

Kelsey was one of four candidates who received formal interviews for the job. The others were head coaches Matt Bollant of UW-Green Bay and Kevin McGuff of Xavier and Auburn associate head coach Kelly Cremeans. McGuff later withdrew his candidacy and signed on as coach at Washington.

Kelsey will receive a five-year contract, but terms of the deal are still being finalized.

She said she has some ideas about who she might want on her coaching staff and added that she wouldn't rule out talking with any of Stone's assistants, Ty Margenthaler, Oties Epps and John Barnes.

"You have to get people you can work with and that you know will be loyal," she said. "I've reached out to several people. I have some good people in mind that have won at the highest levels. I'm just hoping they come on board."

Kelsey trusts that her own experience at the highest levels of the sport will also inspire players to join her at Wisconsin.

"I think you have to have won at the level that everyone aspires to," she said. "My background obviously affords me the opportunity to do that. I'm not just feeding them something I heard about. I've experienced it as a player and a coach. People want to win, that's the bottom line."


Birthplace: Pontiac, Mich.

Hometown: Decatur, Ga.

Playing career: A two-time prep Street & Smith second-team All-American and USA Today Top 25 selection in 1991 at Southwest DeKalb High School in Decatur, Ga, the 5-foot-11 Kelsey was a member of Stanford's 1992 NCAA championship team and played in three Final Fours despite being plagued by knee injuries. Had a one-year stint as a practice player with the ABL's Atlanta Glory in 1997-98.

Coaching resume: Spent one season at Boise State (1996-97), followed by stops at Florida (1998-2000), Evansville (2000-02), Western Carolina (2002-04), Virginia Tech (2004-07) and Stanford (2007-11).

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