After two consecutive blowout losses to Drake and Dayton, the Wisconsin Badgers are hoping for better results in the SDSU Thanksgiving Classic, where they will face the Delaware Blue Hens and the host San Diego State Aztecs.
Two blowout losses have forced the Badgers to change their team philosophy and attitude as they embark on their road trip.
“Everyone who is working on defense and not turning the ball over is going to be in the game. And we’ve all followed into that new philosophy. And that’s how it’s going to be from now on,” senior guard Nicole Bauman said.
Turnovers have been more than just an achilles heel for the Badgers, and while it’s hard to practice not turning the ball over, the Badgers are trying to limit their turnovers by changing their practice atmosphere.
Instead of scrimmaging against the team’s male managers and practice players, head coach Bobbie Kelsey and her staff elected to have her team scrimmage against each other this week to create a more competitive and realistic game environment.
“We can see as coaches who really can play, because sometimes against the guys they say ‘He’s stronger than me, he’s bigger than me, I can’t play him.' It’s not realistic,” Kelsey said.
The more realistic practice environment will hopefully benefit Bauman. Last season, Bauman was the leading 3-point shooter on a team that was the best in the Big Ten in the category. But, this year, the team is shooting a dreadful 11 percent from beyond the arc.
“My form, my shooting is a little off. But I think working as a team, all in all working together is going to help us win games,” Bauman said.
But even with Bauman’s struggles, Kelsey’s reserve guards have picked up the missing production.
“The bench has done well. Shelly [Marble] and Cayla [McMorris] coming off the bench. [Rosanna Gambino] looked good today. The bench has a way of getting people’s attention,” Kelsey said.
McMorris, in particular, has been an integral part of the Badgers’ success. Against Dayton, McMorris came in off the bench and tied her career high in points, 17, in 28 minutes of play.
“I was shooting with confidence and that really showed. And I think that helped carry over into how well I played,” McMorris said.
The Badgers will be enjoying a team Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant in San Diego, and hopefully they lay off the turkey and save some room for a few blue hens.
The Badgers’ first opponent on the trip, the Delaware Blue Hens (2-1) are almost the antithesis of the Badgers in that the Blue Hens are led by freshman forward Nicole Enabosi. Enabosi, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association rookie of the week, leads the Blue Hens in points per game (15) and rebounds per game (11).
San Diego State (0-4) on the other hand is coming off a 29-point loss to Washington earlier in the week. They have lost three of their four games by at least 17 points, yet Kelsey isn’t nearly as concerned with her opponents as she is with her team.
“We know the goal of the trip is to come back to with two wins and that’s what the plan is. And if we play like we’re supposed to, we can do that,” Kelsey said. “Taking nothing from the other teams, I don’t know how hard they’re working, but I know how hard we’ve been working. And we’re going to correct these mistakes.”