Above all things, Coach Elzy emphasized balanced scoring heading into the NCAA Tournament… She got her wish in the NCAA Tournament opener
Fueled by an all-around team performance, the 4-seeded Wildcats defeated 13-seed Idaho State 71-63 on Sunday afternoon. Rhyne Howard, Chasity Patterson, and Blair Green all scored in double figures. Furthermore, Dre’Una Edwards scored nine points.
As expected, Coach Elzy was happy to see her offensive team goals come to fruition.
“This is closer to what I’ve envisioned. We met after the SEC Tournament as a team and just challenged people to step up,” Elzy said after the win. “We just challenged the rest of the team that we needed two or three people to step up and score in double figures.”
Blair Green obviously answered the call. After having a strong early season, Green failed to make major scoring contributions later on. In fact, Kentucky’s game against Idaho State was the first time since January 21 that Green had reached double-digits in scoring. But, as the old saying goes, better late than never.
As vital as Green’s scoring efforts were against Idaho State, she wasn’t the only to step up. Kentucky had 10 players score during Tuesday’s game. Even more impressively, the bench contributed 31 points of Kentucky’s 71-point total.
When the Wildcats have distributed scoring, success typically comes with it, and consequently some fun, too. Blair Green gave her thoughts on the team’s balanced scoring after the game.
“Every time we can get everyone involved it’s just a lot of fun. Everyone’s hyped up and we’re all feeding off each other’s energy, especially when the bench comes to play,” Green said.
Although it’s great to hear the team had fun, it’s even more important to figure out how they can do it again. There undoubtedly could have been a few reasons behind the team’s sudden spread of scoring, but one stands out above the rest: movement.
Coach Elzy specifically addressed the team’s emphasis on off-ball movement during the weeks leading up to the game. Obviously, her focus paid off. Much of the team’s prior failure to score was due to ball-watching. More specifically, watching Howard.
Evidently, Coach Elzy wasn’t the only one to feel the team’s movement had something to do with their success. When asked about what clicked during today’s game, Green gave her thoughts.
“Just moving and getting in a rhythm, that really helped me,” Green said. “My teammates found me and we were just having a lot of fun out there.”
If the Wildcats can replicate today’s well-balanced scoring attack, there will be much more fun to come. Kentucky is 15-3 this season when it has three or more players scoring in double figures.
The Wildcats will need at least three players scoring in double figures next game as they take on Iowa. The Hawkeyes average 86.5 points per game and are a relentless offensive locomotive. Kentucky will need even better offensive performances from each player to overcome Iowa’s scoring barrage when they face off on Tuesday.