MORGANTOWN — West Virginia women’s basketball player Kysre Gondrezick hopes to win by losing and that’s not at all a contradiction in terms.
See last year, the only thing higher than her 15.3 scoring average that led the Mountaineers was her weight.
It wasn’t her fault, mind you, for she had virtually missed all of the previous two seasons.
After being a second-team All-Big Ten selection as a freshman in 2016-17, she opted to transfer from Michigan to West Virginia, meaning she had to sit out the 2017-18 season.
She got back on the floor to start the 2018-19 season, her sophomore year, played five games while averaging 13.2 points a game and 4 assists and then decided, for personal reasons, to take the remainder of the season off.
By the time she got back to playing full time, she was 48 pounds above her playing weight.
On the surface, it didn’t bother her as she was an All-Big 12 honorable mention player but she knew she wasn’t able to do things so easily that she previously had done.
And so it was she spent the off-season working on herself and conditioning, dropping the excess weight and is back ready to make one final impression on college basketball.
“I’ve never had a player do a transformation to that extent,” said Coach Mike Carey. “I’ve had people come back in better shape. I’ve had people who worked on their game. She did both.”
Her dedication was unwavering.
“I spent my entire offseason working out, three times a day, five or six times a week, from 6 a.m. to 6 that night,” she said. “It was just getting up and doing conditioning, cardio. I didn’t touch weights for about two months. I had to change my entire body to fit a basketball profile to be able to play this game at the highest level possible. That was my only focus after the season.”
No one, of course, knows what drives such dedication, but an amateur psychological guess would point one toward carrying on the family tradition, her father, Grant, played at Pepperdine and in the NBA while mother, Lisa, won a national title while playing at Louisiana Tech.
A sister, Kalabrya, also played at Michigan State, so you know when they gather at family outings the conversation isn’t about the weather or politics.
Kysre knows the kind of talent she possesses. As a school girl in Michigan she was second all-time in the state history as she averaged 40.5 points a game as a senior and now she wants to give West Virginia fans something to remember, as well as satisfy her needs to live up to her expectations of herself.
She was reaching for her potential.
“For me, my offensive ability wasn’t much of a focus during the off-season. I wanted to add things to my game, things like floaters, strengthening my right hand,” she said. “I feel like I have a high IQ when it comes to the game. The better shape I could get myself in, the better I would be as a player.”
And, bottom line, she is out to improve her defense.
“My focus now is maintaining the offense but more important is my defense,” she said. “My game would have skyrocketed last year if I were able to play on both ends and ignite my defense into my offense.”
“The benefits defensively are like night and day with her guarding the ball. She moves her feet extremely well,” Carey said. “Offensively she can go around people a lot quicker. She could always score. I think she’s going to do a lot of things for this team offensively and defensively.”
Gondrezick is determined to close out her college career with a winning team and a winning performance after a long journey to this point that included the transfer, sitting out two years, having to work herself back into shape.
“That’s the only thing I’m focused on,” she said. “I wanted to be in a position to give my team the best chance it had. I am a senior with the most experience from being around the game while in college for so long. I take on a different responsibility role this year.
“Now that I am in better shape I feel like my stamina — both my physical and mental endurance — will play a role in how we do.
I’m not worried about individual awards. I’m not worried about trying to put up the same numbers as last season.”
In the end, it’s about winning.
I just want to win. The better we are individually, the better we will be collectively.”
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