Q&A: LSU women’s coach Karen Bahnsen

Today on Wildman’s Corner I talk to the coach of the No. 1 women’s team in the country. We go down to the Bayou to talk with LSU women’s coach Karen Bahnsen, who we found out is not at all surprised to see her team playing well this year.

Coach, your team is off to a great start: A second-place finish at the Preview and a win at the Mason Rudolph Championship. Are you at all surprised with the teams hot start?

Coming in to the year I thought we were extremely talented and had depth. The success we are having is definitely something I thought we were capable of.

I think the team is handling themselves very well and not getting ahead of themselves. I have the same line up as a year ago, but we had some freak things happen last year that prevented the team from accomplishing what we wanted to get done. We just could never get it together a year ago, but I’m glad to see it all coming together this year.

When we talk about the most powerful conference in women’s golf, we seem to mention the Pac-10 first. Is the SEC closing that gap as far as which conference is the strongest?

I think the SEC is extremely competitive and talented this year. Alabama, Georgia, us, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, and Vanderbilt are all really strong teams and are all continuously getting better.

There’s a lot of great schools in the Pac-10 and it’s a powerful conference for sure, but the SEC is right there with them. This year our conference will be challenging top to bottom and I can guarantee you our SEC Championship will be really exciting.

The men’s game has had a .500 rule for a couple of years now. Do you think the women’s game should do the same? You have to have a winning record to make the post-season?

No, I don’t think so. When I play tournaments or host them I always make sure we can see and face the best teams anywhere. As a coach you want to see your team play the top teams and continue to get better. I don’t think having a .500 rule helps in any big way, because at the end of the day you want to be able to play the best. I think the way it is now is just fine.

What has surprised you the most so far about your team this year?

Our maturity for sure. Last year we missed the championship by a single shot and that was something real hard to get over. We knew we were able to contend, but we just couldn’t get over that hump.

The team this year is real mature and not result-oriented but more team-oriented. Each day I see that the girls are poised, and ready for each new round. I think we all have realized that if you go out on the course and take care of business then the results will come. If you play well, then the results will come and speak for themselves.

It’s easy to get excited with the early results, but how do you make sure the team doesn’t lose focus?

They have to keep things in perspective. All year they will learn something new and they need to continue to grow stronger as a team. I talk about being mentally focused, and think that is really important for any team.

The girls saw that if they stay poised, practice hard, and compete they can accomplish great things. I think this team is on the brink of a real breakthrough and can do some really special things. We just have to stay poised and if we can do that, then we can accomplish a lot of great things.

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