Burrell grad Kelsey Oddis providing senior leadership, stats for young UPG women's team
Hayley Schaetzle was sitting in her Pitt-Greensburg office early in the day when she heard a knock.
She looked up and saw — nobody.
Then senior Kelsey Oddis popped into the doorway, crouched into a low stance and delivered a message: “Game day, coach!”
Oddis is showcasing that dialed-in mentality on all of Pitt-Greensburg's game days this season. The 5-foot-7 guard from Burrell, the Bobcats' lone senior, is averaging 19.1 points and 10.5 rebounds and reached 1,000 career points Wednesday in a victory over La Roche.
“I could not have enjoyed Kelsey as a leader more so far this year,” said Schaetzle, in her first season at Pitt-Greensburg. “She's done a phenomenal job of being an extension of a coach both on the court and off the court. Her communication with the team, the coaching staff, has worked wonders to have this team hold each other accountable and really help our freshmen grow at a very fast pace.”
Oddis' importance to Pitt-Greensburg's young team went beyond her status as the only senior: She was one of just two returning players on the roster along with sophomore Colleen Murphy.
Pitt-Greensburg went through a tumultuous offseason as the university let go of former coach Erin Eaton after seven seasons and six Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference playoff appearances. Some of the players transferred out amid the uncertainty.
But Oddis stayed.
“I've had a really good time at Pitt-Greensburg,” Oddis said. “Academics come first, and getting a Pitt degree looks really good on a resume. And I knew some of the freshmen coming in, and I was just trusting that whoever the new coach was, everything would be all right. I didn't want to leave those girls hanging.”
Oddis met with Schaetzle a few times over the summer after her hiring and found a connection with the coach, who came to Greensburg after working with the program at Buffalo.
There were some on-court adjustments early — Schaetzle coaches a more defensive style than Oddis was used to — but Pitt-Greensburg is showing signs of progress since the calendar flipped to January. The Bobcats dropped 11 of their first 12 games but have won two of their past three to climb to 3-12 overall and 3-5 in the AMCC.
“It's just starting to all come together now,” Oddis said. “This is the most important part of the season. It's all conference games. But we're coming along pretty well.”
Also an all-AMCC cross country runner, Oddis gets extra conditioning during the basketball season, which perhaps explains how she can average 37.3 minutes.
She reached 1,000 career points with a 21-point, 13-rebound performance against La Roche, her eighth double-double of the season.
“It's really something because it's all that hard work in the summer, in the offseason,” Oddis said. “It just shows that it pays off. I wouldn't want to do it with any other team, either.”
Schaetzle praised Oddis' ability as a team defender and the matchup problems she gives opposing defenses.
“It's hard to guard Kelsey as a defender,” Schaetzle said. “As a defender, I would struggle to guard her because of her quick first step. She has a very explosive body and a quick release. She has pretty good touch from wherever on the court, but the difficult part is she can get it off pretty quickly.”
Schaetzle credited “100 percent heart” for Oddis' ability to average more than 10 rebounds at a small stature, but her player gave a simpler reason.
“I just turn, box out and look for the ball,” Oddis said. “There's really nothing special. I know we need the ball, so I grab it.”
Oddis earned All-AMCC second-team honors as a sophomore and looks to match at least that later this season.
Right now, she's locked in on the next game day.
“We've realized we can do this,” she said. “It doesn't matter how young you are, how many players you have. It just matters that you have the right people, and I think we have the right people.”