Pac-12 Feature: Q&A with Washington’s Kelsey Plum
Kelsey Plum is going to be an All-American. She will be a top WNBA Draft pick. She will be known as the player who led Washington to its first ever NCAA Women’s Final Four. Her name will be littered in the Washington and Pac-12 record books. And in just a small matter of time, she may be known as the greatest scorer in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history.
But there is so much to be done before the ending is written on her extraordinary career.
With two weeks to go in the Pac-12 season and then what looks to be a long, exciting postseason run, the nation’s leading scorer took a bit of time to look forward and look back.
Q. Are you feeling good about the way the season has gone so far?
A. “I am. I think that I looked a couple of those four losses and they were winnable games for us. Especially the Stanford game. We had that and we let it go. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, especially when you consider how hard the Pac-12 is. To be able to do what we’ve done…I think we’ve done a really good job finishing games. It’s been a really fun year.
Q. As you are closing in on the NCAA scoring record, how are things changing for you?
A. It’s been interesting. The more we play, the closer it gets, the more time demands I have. I finally said something to coach one day that it was getting to be a lot. He set it up so I do all my media one day a week. I’ve been getting pulled in a lot of different directions. But I think I’ve compartmentalized it. The record is something I’ve blocked out for pretty much the season. But as it gets closer, it’s harder to block out. There are highlights on ESPN. I’m getting more and more tweets, people are starting to write articles. I understand it’s a big individual deal. But I’ve never put a focus on it. Maybe after the season I will be able to step back and reflect. But until then, I can’t get caught up in the moment.
Q. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen on Twitter about yourself?
A. People compared me to James Harden. Baron Davis tweeted out to me, Sue Bird…stuff like that. I’ve gotten some marriage proposals on Twitter. My social media has kind of blown up. It’s kind of funny. The closer I get to the record, the more stuff I see. Sometimes, I walk away from my phone for a while and when I come back it’s like ‘What happened?’ My phone blows up. Especially after games. Valentine’s Day was pretty hectic. I got a lot of ‘Kelsey, will you be my Valentine?’
Q. How have you been able to play at such a consistently high level all season?
A. My goal for this season wasn’t the scoring record or to hit certain averages. It was my percentages. This year, I set a goal I wanted was 50-40-90 (50 percent from the floor, 40 from the 3-point line, 90 percent from the free-throw line). There has never been a women’s player who averaged at least 20 points a game who got 50-40-90. From day one, that’s what I’ve been working for. I have always been able to score, but my efficiency was more of a struggle. That’s I wanted to fix this season. Being more consistent. I worked hard this summer. I focused on my 3-point percentage. And I’m in better shape than I was last year. It’s come together.
Q. What is different about your senior season than the others?
A. Becoming a senior, the game slows down and and you just play. I don’t consider it work anymore. I’m just having fun playing basketball. I let the game come to me, take the best shot I can get and knock them down. It’s not a complicated process.
Q. The team has been such an offensive force. What has it been like to play in this system?
A. I think it shows what a good time we are having. There was one man who said ‘I’m trading in my season tickets for the men to watch the women’s team. I love the way you guys play.’ We move the ball. We can all shoot 3s. We play fast. The addition of Natalie (Romero) is huge. She helps us space the floor, you can’t come off of her or she can hit 10 3s on you. And Aarion is one of the fastest players I’ve every played with. It’s been the funnest year of basketball I’ve ever played.
Q. How have you matured as player and a person in the last four years?
A. I’m not focused on the refs or myself, I’m focused on my team and what we have to do on the next possession. Playing in the Pac-12 against tough teams, you need to be on your Ps and Qs. I’m able to be a better leader because it’s not about me. The more you grow up and mature you understand you need to be an example for younger players. I try my best to be an example.
I think I’ve learned to let things roll off. Sue Bird gave me some of the best advice. Nothing is ever too high or too low. Nothing is ever as bad as you think it is. I’ve learned to laugh about things. When I’m in a good mood, I play my best.
Q. What do you wish people would talk about your team more?
A. I think the one thing I wish people would talk about more is Chantel (Osahor). She’s such a unique player. She is having an All-American season and it kind of gets frustrating. Yeah, people talk about me, but they don’t talk about her as much as they should. As the season goes on, I think people see how good she is.
Q. Without looking too far ahead, what are your hopes for your last Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle in a few weeks?
A. Yeah, I’m so sick of losing in the first round or the second round or the third round. It’s a really tough tournament, so securing that first round bye is really good. It’s my last go-around, so who knows what’s going to happen. But the whole team is excited for the challenge.
Q. How much has playing in the Final Four last year changed your expectations for success?
A. Once you taste it, and you how good it is, you feel anything less than that is a failure. This is where we expect to be now. We need to be there multiple years in a row to really establish the program.
Q. How quickly have the last four years passed?
A. In school, they have not passed that quickly at all. (Laughs). But in basketball, honestly, it’s been fast, but not. This year has been extremely fast. It hasn’t always been easy, and I will always remember some of that struggle. But this has been the perfect place for me and I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.
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