Women’s basketball: Bauman breaks into leading role

first_imgThe Kohl Center is where it all started for Nicole Bauman.From her sophomore season in high school until the present day, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball junior guard has shot her way into the record books and created poignant memories along the way.After all, it was at the Kohl Center where she realized she could pursue collegiate basketball, following her postseason tournament performance in which her New Berlin Eisenhower squad won the state championship her sophomore year. After that game, the scholarship offers began flowing in.Nearly five years later, Bauman sunk eight three-pointers in a Jan. 29th matchup against Ohio State, setting a Kohl Center and school record for both men and women, for a career-high 31 points.And while the memories may bring smiles, the road to success hasn’t been a dream. It’s taken hundreds of hours in the gym, thousands of shots and tons of sweat for Bauman to develop into the shooter she’s become today.“Nicole works on her shot,”head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “She is a perfectionist this way. She is a very good shooter, but it’s not because she wants to be, it’s because she works at it and if you leave her alone, she can hurt you, and she can make the big shot and has made several big ones for us, and she has a knack for it. The momentum is on her side right now and she has taken advantage of it.”This season, particularly in Big Ten play, Bauman is using her “momentum” to sink opponents with that smooth shot. She leads the Badgers in scoring with 13.9 points per game, while shooting 44.9 percent from behind the arc on the season. In her last three games against Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois, Bauman is averaging 25 points per game. In that same span, she’s 18-29 from downtown (62.1 percent).Still, Bauman insists that she never envisioned herself as the leading scorer of the Wisconsin Badgers and credits a lot of her success to her teammates and that the recent shooting display is a product of not just hard work, but a newfound confidence.“My teammates trust me to knock that shot down,” Bauman said. “And they’ve been able to give me the ball and I’ve been open. I have a lot of confidence in myself lately and my teammates have a lot of confidence in me too.“It’s a lot higher than it’s been in the past,” Bauman said of her confidence level. “Obviously my shot’s been going [in] and that’s been working well for me.”That’s not to say the extra work has subsided, Kelsey said.“She works pretty much every day after practice,” Kelsey said. “She will be shooting extra and she will come in before and have some of the guys rebound for her, some of our managers, and they know the routine, so they stick around and she grabs a ball and gets about 10 minutes worth of shots, randomly here and there.”Still, Bauman says she does feel the pressure of her teammates relying on her to score for Wisconsin to remain competitive.“I’d say there’s a little bit of pressure,” Bauman said. “Just because I wanna be able to do the best that I can for my team.”Her teammates know how hard Bauman has worked to put herself in a position where they feel confident every time she elevates for a shot.“She works every day on her shot and it definitely shows — I mean, she’s clutch,” fellow junior guard Tessa Cichy said. “She comes in hot when we need her. She comes in hot even when we don’t need her to.”An example of Bauman’s clutch factor came last season against UW-Green Bay, when she banked in a prayer from just inside the half-court line as time expired to send the game into overtime, which the Badgers would ultimately win.And now that the Big Ten has felt the wrath of Bauman’s shooting and is now at the top of the list of opponent’s scouting reports, she’s well aware that she’s going to have to adjust her game.“They know I can shoot the ball, so they’re gonna try and make me drive the ball,” Bauman said. “So I wanna be able to be effective in that way as well.”Expectations were high for Bauman coming out of high school. She was named Wisconsin Player of the Year after leading Eisenhower to the state semifinals her senior season. Despite those expectations, she still manages to reach new heights, break records and even surprise herself.“I would’ve never expected to be where I am,” Bauman said. “I guess I always wanted to take on the challenge and work my hardest every day and be the best that I can be.”And now Bauman is the best at shooting the most three-pointers in the Kohl Center in the building’s 18-year history.last_img