Q & A With Paulisha Kellum
Fifth-year senior Paulisha Kellum checked in with VirginiaSports.com to preview the final two regular-season games of the season. Virginia hosts Duke on Thursday (Feb. 24) at 7 p.m., then heads to Virginia Tech for a Sunday (Feb. 27) match-up. Kellum and classmate Jay Hartig will be honored as part of Senior Night festivities prior to the contest vs. Duke at John Paul Jones Arena.
Question: How will you and the team go about preparing for the final two games of the regular season?
Kellum: I think I want to prepare just as much, if not more, than our games before. We’re not treating anybody different-no matter the name on the jersey, no matter if we’ve played them twice or three times already. We know Duke is going to come with pressure. They like to press, they like to trap-halfcourt and fullcourt. We know they have a great guard in Jasmine Thomas, so we have to contain her and then basically handle their low-post game. They have some great experience down there. We just need to learn from our mistakes from last year, learn from what other teams did to them this year, and just take it and go forward. As far as Virginia Tech, we played them already this year so we know what we have to do to capitalize. Our main focus is probably just not to be content. We know what Virginia Tech wants to do and what they’re coming to do, so we basically need not to be complacent.
Question: After a difficult loss to Boston College Sunday, how do you hope to see the team rebound and regroup?
Kellum: Hopefully we’ll watch film and correct some of the mistakes that happened in the game. I don’t think we’ve shot that bad all year in the first half. I think that was kind of a defeating thing-missing every shot and then turning around and trying to play defense. They were making everything. It was just kind of defeating for us, and we’ve just got to learn to play through anything, no matter what’s going on. We just have to learn to play through adversity like that. I think that’s the one thing we need to take from that game-that, no matter what, we just have to keep playing hard.
Question: Have you give any thoughts as to what it will be like playing in your last-ever regular season home game Thursday night?
Kellum: I’ve thought about it a little bit. I’m not a very emotional person; I don’t get very excited with things. It’s not really in my personality to cry or do anything like that. I’m looking forward to Thursday because we play against Duke. I’m not looking forward to the game as far as it being Senior Day and all of that. I’m looking forward to it as it’s another team we have to face, and it’s a team that we need to get a ‘W’ against and try to go into the ACC Tournament strong.
Question: What are your thoughts on your fellow captain and senior teammate, Jayna Hartig?
Kellum: Jayna is a great person, on and off the court. I think a lot of people know that and have seen that, especially with her having traveled halfway across the country to play here. She’s just a great person. She motivates you, no matter what the situation is, and that’s what I admire about her. She just wants to win and put the team in the best situation to win. That’s one of the reasons why she’s a captain on this team. She’s a great leader, she’s vocal, and she just knows the game.
Question: Do you have any post-graduation plans yet?
Kellum: My first thought or plan would be to continue playing basketball-maybe not in the WNBA, but overseas. I’m going to try to exhaust that as much as possible and see how far that can take me-or my knees can take me. I’ll see if there are any other options out there as far as rehabilitation of my knees and see if I can get those any better. That’s my first option. After that, maybe I’ll look into coaching.
Question: You have been known to give some input as far as game strategy and other things despite being just a player at the moment. Does that coaching instinct come naturally to you?
Kellum: I’ve been around basketball for-I don’t know how long-since I was born. Everyone in my family played basketball-my mom, my dad, my grandmother, my aunts, my uncles. I’m pretty much from a basketball family, or an athletic family. Just growing up around that, playing with great players from my AAU teams, learning a lot from my dad and my former AAU coach, Keith Brown, who now is an assistant at Georgetown-I think they taught me a lot, as well as my mother, and it just kind of stuck with me as the years went by. It’s just something in my head that I think about. Sometimes I don’t have to think about it, and it just comes to me. I think that’s one of the reasons why a lot of people say that coaching may be a good idea for me after college.
Question: Speaking of coaching, what kind of impression has Coach Ryan and the rest of the Cavalier staff left on you during your time at Virginia?
Kellum: Coach Ryan is a great person and a great coach. She just wants the best for everybody, and she looks out for you. Whether you’re on the team, not on the team, whether you’ve graduated from here, or had some kind of affiliation with this program, she wants to look out for you no matter what, like you’re her own child. In my situation, she didn’t have to take a chance with me. I appreciate her and the staff believing in me and thinking that I can contribute to this program, coming in with the history of my knees already. They still stuck with me throughout my high school career and my college career as well, even with my third ACL injury. I guess just believing in me and thinking that I can contribute to this program says a lot about her and her character and also the coaching staff.