March 7, 2013
COACH KELSEY: We won. Questions? No, seriously, we worked really hard in preparation for once we figured out, knew who we were going to play, we kind of it was like, oh, gosh, because we know they press and they trap and they're very good at it and they caused the most turnovers in the league.
But our kids, we just had to help them believe that it was more us, not taking anything away from Illinois, because they do cause you to turn it over but you have to make a good passing decision once the opening is there.
And you saw then we kind of hesitate, because it looks open and they make it look open, and then they rip the passing lane. But we got some breaks there and some nice plays. But we also turned it over. So we gotta watch that. But we won the game and that was excellent.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players.
Q. Morgan, can you just talk about what was going through your mind before and when you hit those free throws?
MORGAN PAIGE: Like I was saying earlier, Tessa [Cichy] picked me off the ground and she said: Hey, we need one to tie and two to win and you can do it.
And I know that I'm one of the better free throw shooters on the team and I had to relax and pretend like nobody else was out there. After I hit the first one I felt it a little less. And then the second one went down and I'm like, pick up don't foul, don't foul. That was the mind process.
Q. Jacki, it seemed like in the second half, you guys picked up your rebounding, especially you. Was that a focal point at halftime to start crashing the boards a little better?
JACKI GULCZYNSKI: Yeah, I think so. Illinois is a great rebounding team. We know they get to the boards constantly. So it was a constant struggle to try and put a body on them.
Once we got determined and won the rebounding battle in the second half, it really picked up our energy and resulted in those big free throws.
Q. Cassie, the first three years you talked about being more aggressive. Do you think you got there?
CASSIE ROCHEL: I think I'm slowly getting there. I think I could still be a little more aggressive. But lately, I've been focusing on my defense and trying to be defensive pressure tonight [Karisma] Penn was more my focus. I don't put so much pressure on myself to score as much and it just kinda comes naturally.
Q. Cassie, I don't think Penn has been held in single digits much this year. I know she was in foul trouble, but what were you doing that was so effective?
CASSIE ROCHEL: I'll have to give all my credit to this girl right here. She came in, helped me with a double. Luckily she was on somebody that she could leave and be there whenever we needed to help her, Penn and [Adrienne] GodBold. So we really looked to Jacki to come and close up that double, so wasn't able to get any easy looks. As long as we were boxing her out, she didn't get any easy putbacks, and that was really what did it tonight.
Q. Jacki, as an 11 seed, this is a big deal for you to win this first game. And you're probably still thinking about this. But real quick, you gotta start thinking about Purdue. A couple thoughts about Purdue.
JACKI GULCZYNSKI: I think we're really excited to play Purdue. It was a great game. We played them at the Kohl Center, and we're going to do our best to prepare and get ready for the next one.
Q. How tired are your legs?
MORGAN PAIGE: We've been working on conditioning since probably September. So it's more of a mental thing now. I don't even know if you feel it. It might hit us later. Don't ask me like now; ask me in three hours.
But for the most part, when the game goes, you're ready to play and you don't really think about it. You use every media timeout as a, okay, let's get back together, refocus.
But I mean for me I don't feel it very much. So I don't know about you guys.
CASSIE ROCHEL: I would say like Morgan said, when you're out there and you're trying to focus on other things like defense and offense in the game, you don't really feel like your body telling you that it's tired. Your adrenaline is going, and I think we're all in pretty good shape right now and we're able to push through and play 40 minutes if we have to.
JACKI GULCZYNSKI: I think we're used to it by now. Especially the three of us have been playing a lot of minutes this entire Big Ten season, the entire season. So I think our bodies are used to it.
And we're excited to play another day. I don't think we're worried about our bodies. We're just happy to be playing one more game.
Q. For any of the players, when you found that [Nicole] Bauman was not going to be available today, what was the mentality? What was the thinking among the players and their reaction, too?
CASSIE ROCHEL: I have confidence in all of our bench players. Anyone who comes off the bench, I have more than enough confidence in them.
So when we found out about Nicole's sickness, we looked to Tessa. And I think she did a tremendous job tonight on stepping up for Nicole.
I know Nicole felt really bad, but that's what they're there for. Tessa stepped up huge in this game. So you have confidence in your bench players.
MORGAN PAIGE: I mean, obviously it's sad when you have somebody who we've been working so hard for this, and it's the postseason and it's your first postseason as a freshman and you have to go through some adversity with illness.
It's sad to think she wouldn't be here sharing this with us. But in reality, in mindset, we won this one for her. This one's for Nicole.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Are you going to put Tessa Cichy on scholarship?
COACH KELSEY: Tessa, she's certainly proven that she deserves it, that's for sure. But Tessa's a great kid. She's awesome. She doesn't worry about that.
She came to Wisconsin knowing she did not have one. And she had scholarship offers to other places, and not small schools, but she's a Badger through and through. Her whole family went to Wisconsin and she wanted to come.
And I had a teammate at Stanford that did the same thing. She walked on, but she had scholarships to other places. But when your heart is somewhere and you can do it, you don't mind the circumstances.
So Tessa's awesome. We love her to death. She's been a great addition to our program.
Q. What was your message that you tried to convey to your team during the almost pretty furious comeback there at the end?
COACH KELSEY: I don't know if I had a certain message. We just said keep with things. Every team makes a run. We make our little runs, some more than others. Some teams make more runs than others. But we expected that. They're not going to go away just because you hit some shots. They're going to fight to the end, just like we're going to fight to the end.
We just had the breaks go our way this time. But we have been on the other side of that and we know how that feels.
But they're a great team. They had a lot of great wins this year, and I know they're feeling it right now, but I've been on both sides. So I know what that feels like.
But I'm happy for my group because we really needed this one, and we deserved it and the kids kept playing hard throughout all the little tough losses we've had these last five games. My team deserved it.
Q. Bobbie, I was looking at your bench at the end of the game, and you had two prospective starters sitting on the bench in street clothes, one home sick. Could you talk about the character of your team you've been able to go next man up without a whole lot of drop off?
COACH KELSEY: I think it's a credit to the assistant coaches. They really - Alysiah [Bond], Stacy [Cantley] and Jayme [Callahan] they really helped me help the kids believe that we have enough. That's my mantra throughout this whole year. Every time somebody goes down, we have enough, there's enough in the room. If you do what you're supposed to do, there's enough sitting here to help us win.
And if I don't believe it, if the assistants don't believe it, they won't believe it. They follow the adults. They do.
And even though inside I might be like, oh, Lord, we need some people. Where are the bodies gonna be but, again, at the end of the day, those kids are still hurt. If you waste time worrying about, oh, my God, we don't have this one or that one, you're going to lose.
So we just try to help them understand that there's enough. We have enough people to do what we're supposed to do. We just have to focus on who can play. That's my focus.
I asked Katrina Holly: Who is available? That's all I worry about. I can't worry about Taylor [Wurtz] being out or Michi [Michala Johnson] not being able to play because she transferred, or Nicole being sick. It's unfortunate, but everybody has injuries. We're not the only team that has injuries. We just had more than people some people had injuries at the beginning and nobody could play. We've had them drop off as the year has gone on.
But you just have to focus on who can play and then get them ready. Because if they're not ready, they don't go out and win this game.
Q. You've had so many close games this year where you might have lost that one. How does it feel to finally get a win?
COACH KELSEY: It feels great. It feels great. We almost gave it away. But, again, when you got kids that's playing a lot of minutes, young ones, you just it's a lot against us, but we don't dwell on it. We just keep playing. And even though we've lost five in a row up to this game, you've got one more, you could still win it, and you gotta keep playing.
Q. Is this your biggest win at Wisconsin?
COACH KELSEY: Probably not. It's probably the Penn State game because their ranking.
But, again, every win is exciting for me. I don't care who it is. A win is a win. Nobody's asking years later, they're not going to say, well, who did you beat? They just know your record at that point.
So but this is a big win for our team because it's one and done. If you don't win you go home. Penn State, you've got some more games after that game.
So this one is big in a different way, in a different way.
COACH BOLLANT: Wisconsin became the most aggressive in the second half. First half I thought we did a great job of weathering the storm with Karisma [Penn] in foul trouble. And we just needed to step up and play aggressively in the second half, and we didn't. I think we got caught up in thinking about the end result and quit playing aggressively and quit attacking and that really hurt us.
We got down 10 the first time we started playing again, and then made a run to take the lead, but just didn't get the stops down the stretch when we had to have it. And hurting for our team and our staff.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Those last five minutes, what's going through your guys' heads?
IVORY CRAWFORD: Well, what was actually going through my mind at first was just like, it's okay, we've got five minutes. You know, take our time, we can actually take them.
And I saw like the scaredness of like the teammates I mean the opponents. And I felt like we, as a team can, like, take this team down. And like we did and we showed, and proved that, and it's just down the stretch, we made a bad decision.
AMBER MOORE: I just think we've been in this position before. We've been down, we've come back, and being in that situation comes with our defense, and we didn't start the second half that way.
And we didn't have the edge we had in the first half. So the results didn't say what we wanted to say.
Q. Amber, what did that feel like just making that go ahead three, and what was your thinking for the rest of the game when you made that?
AMBER MOORE: It was just confidence. My teammates were getting me the ball and I was knocking down shots. And it comes from our defense. We work on defense all the time. Whether a shot's going in or not, our defense is what gets the game won, and I think me hitting the shots created more confidence for our team.
Q. As tough a loss as this seems to be from the outside, how do you feel about this? Can you kind of just express what this feels like?
IVORY CRAWFORD: It just didn't end how we wanted it. That's all. I think it just comes to like learning from our mistakes from the past and just trying to make the adjustment. Just the scoreboard didn't show what we wanted.
AMBER MOORE: I think we just have to learn how to keep the edge. We're a better team when we're on edge and we're being the most aggressive team. And we're the first one on the floor for loose balls, and we didn't show that in the second half.
Q. That obviously explains maybe the turnout or the end result perhaps, but I guess I'd like to again ask the question. Is this as difficult as it gets in terms of losses considering what you guys aspire to in this tournament? I guess that's what I'm asking.
AMBER MOORE: It is difficult. We knew we could make a run in this tournament. And, I don't know. We just weren't aggressive in the second half. And if we learned how to put two halves together, I think we'd be in a better position than we're in now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Coach, at the end you had 3.1 seconds left and one timeout. Can you explain why you didn't call that timeout?
COACH BOLLANT: Yeah. We had set up a play that we've run every day in practice. Trying to get something we've run all the time. And actually I was yelling timeout. Once we got the ball in to Amber I was yelling, timeout, timeout, timeout, and apparently the refs didn't hear me.
Q. What do you think went wrong in the entire second half and also basically after Amber Moore made her three pointer, what happened after that point?
COACH BOLLANT: We haven't been good playing with leads, honestly. We built a lead playing aggressively and playing hard in the first half, and then we didn't do that in the second half. We waited until we really got down 10 before we started to be the most aggressive team, and that was a struggle.
When Amber hit the three, I felt good about our chances and put ourselves in position to win, and the two fouls that hurt us, the Alexis foul in the press and then the foul with three seconds left put them on the foul line where they were awfully good, 21-for-21.
Q. What impact did it have on your team for Karisma [Penn] not to be on the floor as much as she was
COACH BOLLANT: Karisma only played 22 minutes. It was kind of devastating to our team and hurt us. She just never really got in the flow because of that foul trouble. So that definitely was something that hurt our team.
I thought we adjusted in the first half and did a really good job in the first half playing without her. But the second half, we struggled to get in the flow offensively and be able to get the ball inside and get easy baskets, which she normally gets.
Q. Just what do you think of your NCAA Tournament chances and why do you think your team's deserving of playing in the tournament?
COACH BOLLANT: I think if you look at our quality wins, that's what they talk about. Your quality wins is what gets you into the NCAA Tournament. We have six wins in the top 50. They're not going to take another team in the NCAA Tournament at large bid that has six top 50 wins. And to have two top 25 wins with Georgia, Nebraska, I think if they say it's quality wins, then we should have that to be.
Last year the Big Ten got seven teams in. This year the Big Ten went from six in the RPI to second in the RPI. Us to finish tied for fifth in the RPI, tied for fifth in the conference, to me, we should be in because of the quality wins.
Q. Does today's result change your thinking in terms of the NCAA? Does it make you a little bit more apprehensive?
COACH BOLLANT: Yeah, it certainly clouds that tremendously. But again, I don't make those decisions. Have our team ready to play in the postseason.