Mark Kellogg won’t hold back in getting WVU women’s team to full-court press this season

Mark Kellogg won’t hold back in getting WVU women’s team to full-court press this season

Sep. 27—MORGANTOWN — It started as a simple idea, as it usually does in basketball coaching, one to simply try and shake things up a little.

The full-court pressing style that Mark Kellogg has introduced to the WVU women’s basketball team this season actually began about 18 years ago at a small Division II school in Colorado.

“My very first year at Fort Lewis College, we had a roster of about nine kids, and really about seven who could play, ” Kellogg began the history lesson during his first media conference of the season Wednesday. “We couldn’t guard very well, and we couldn’t guard a whole 30-second shot clock.

“I was like, ‘OK, we need to take time off the clock.’ We started with a 1-2-2 and the goal was to get teams to pass it around the perimeter. They wouldn’t begin to run offense until 18 seconds and then shoot with five seconds, so we really only had to guard for 13 seconds.”

That was the early beginnings, but as one season became two and two to three, Kellogg’s pressing style began to take on a whole different meaning other than taking time off the clock.

“Once we started recruiting better players at Fort Lewis, we got pretty good and changed it to a 2-2-1 so we could guard the ball all the time.”

Like a mechanic, Kellogg continued to tweak here and there, throwing out what didn’t work, while enhancing what did.

By the time he reached his first Division I stop at Stephen F. Austin, Kellogg’s pressing style was fine-tuned.

Over his last six seasons with the Ladyjacks, the team forced an average of 21 turnovers per game and never won fewer than 23 games in any season.

Which brings him to his first season at a Power Five Conference school with the Mountaineers.

Is this WVU roster equipped to run Kellogg’s break-neck paced press ?

“I think we’re going to be able to play fast and get after people on the defensive end, ” Kellogg said. “In my mind, I think we’re going to be able to play the way I want us to play.”

Kellogg inherited a roster that was already focused on creating turnovers with high-intensity half-court defense—WVU was second in the Big 12 last season in forcing 19.4 turnovers per game—so he wasn’t exactly starting from scratch.

What exactly will it look like ? That was a recent topic of discussion Kellogg had with his players.

“I told them this will take on whatever identity you want it to, ” Kellogg said. “I teach it a certain way, but each team’s identity is different. If we really want to get after you, we can. We can mix and match based that press based on the skill set of each team.”

Kellogg’s early impression—WVU just began full practices on Tuesday—is the Mountaineers will play at a faster pace looking to create havoc.

“I imagine this team ; it looks like they want to rev it up from what I can already see, ” Kellogg said.

He also has a star defensive guard in J.J. Quinerly, who led the team with 66 steals last season, to run it.

“We put the press in the other day, and she was like, ‘Coach, you’re going to let me press, right ?’ ” Kellogg said. “I told her we’re going to get after it. One of her goals is to become the all-time steals leader here, and she was pretty open about that. Us pressing and playing the way we do could help her get a few more steals.”