Dec. 19, 2012
In her first two seasons with the Cavaliers, Kelsey Wolfe averaged 2.8 points per game. The guard had never been announced in the starting lineup, though she was a very familiar face on the court, appearing in 57 games.
"The first two years weren't how I thought they were going to be," Wolfe said. "I wanted to change things, to make it different."
Rather than feel sorry for herself about her limited production, Wolfe instead took action, working in the gym and weight room all summer, focusing on her skills and conditioning.
"My best friend is called the Dr. Dish. He is basically a personal rebounder, so you can take as many shots as you want and you don't have to waste any energy rebounding," Wolfe said, smiling as she recounted working with the shooting machine.
In addition to hours and hours of shooting, Wolfe also worked in the weight room. Her first two seasons, she saw strength and conditioning as something that needed to be done, but she didn't fully appreciate its importance until recently.
"I think a lot of people don't realize that girls are strong, and in order to finish with contact at the rim, you also have to be strong," Wolfe said. "First and second year, you're like `oh yah, I'm going to the weight room,' but third year, I took to it more. I like to see the differences in my body and go for it."
"To me, the change in Kelsey Wolfe's game started in the summer when she committed herself to the weight room," said assistant coach Cory McNeill. "She got a lot of reps up. The way you build confidence is from the work you put in at the gym. And that kid put a lot of work in."
`Confidence' is a word you hear often this season when people talk about Wolfe. She set a career high with 20 points against Penn, helping to engineer the Cavaliers' comeback in Philadelphia. She topped that performance with a 25-point outpouring at Minnesota. She is averaging 10.8 points per game this season, almost four times as many as her previous career average.
Wolfe, who has started all seven games this season, knew she wanted things to change from previous years, but she did not expect this drastic of a difference.
"I didn't really come into the season looking to be a main option," Wolfe said. "In the flow of the game, when the opportunity presents itself, I feel I have taken it and done well with that."
She also has another year of experience working with Joanne Boyle's playbook.
"I think being a second year in the offense, I have a better understanding of what I am looking for and coming off screens and what kind of footwork to get into a shot," Wolfe said.
In addition to her increased scoring, Wolfe is also passing the ball, with 22 assists this year.
"One of the things that is really good about Kelsey is that she has a good balance of understanding when to make a play for herself and when to make a play for her teammates," McNeill said. "She is really getting the confidence she needs to be able to implement that in a game situation. I think that is why she has had success so far this season."
Defensively, Wolfe has a team-leading 20 steals and is averaging almost five rebounds per game.
"I think I have gotten a lot better just understanding the defense," Wolf said. "Every game is going to be different, so you need to understand and remember the concepts. Defense is just about working hard and having that fire and passion."
Fire and passion are not something on which Wolfe has a monopoly. The whole team shares in that.
"We tell each other just to work hard. You always want to make that first punch, make that first hit and put them back on their heels instead of them putting us on our heels."
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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