Despite the Kentucky Women’s Basketball Team’s impressive start to its Southeastern Conference schedule, they have seemingly hit a wall following two losses in a row.
Although the two losses came to top 10 teams, Texas A&M and South Carolina, it’s still disheartening to see a team with so much talent struggling to get over that final hump. However, disheartening is not the same as hopeless. With a few small changes, this team could be a serious title contender.
Role players have to step up offensively
So far this season there’s been no question: Rhyne Howard is the truth. Unfortunately, the same statement has not consistently held true for the majority of the supporting cast.
Players such as Blair Green, Jazmine Massengill, and KeKe McKinney are all averaging at least 20 minutes, while simultaneously all averaging 7 points or less per game. Obviously, I’m not saying these players need to be putting up top-notch numbers, but it is essential that while on the court the defense has to respect them.
With Rhyne Howard only speeding up as the season moves forward, the opportunities for other players on the team will continue to grow. If role players on the team continue to not necessarily score at a high-level, they must at least cut down on other mistakes.
Turnovers in the post are an issue
Speaking of cutting down on other issues, turnovers in the paint have haunted this team recently. In basketball one of the most basic principles is your bigs should have limited turnovers due to their lack of dribbling. This team has turned that basic expectation on its head.
Dre’Una Edwards and Olivia Owens have a combined 38 turnovers on the season. A statistic way too high when considering the majority of the time these players are making an offensive move they are within five feet of the basket. Not to mention, many of these turnovers are unforced and basic mistakes such as traveling with the ball.
Though not all the blame is on the players in the frontcourt. The guards have struggled to find the right moments and right angles to feed the post players inside. Time and time again guards are attempting to pass the ball in from the top of the key instead of the wing or corner, regularly leading to a deflected pass.
Fixing these fundamental issues in the post could easily lead to an extra 10 points a game by simply providing the team with a few more possessions.
This team has to finish out games
Every game in the SEC is going to be a 12-round fight and only throwing punches in three-quarters of those rounds isn’t going to win you the big matches. In both conference losses, the ‘Cats have been outscored in the fourth quarter.
This sudden drop-off doesn’t appear to be due to a lack of stamina or poor game planning, but instead a loss of focus. Over the past two games whenever the team gets down in the fourth there seems to be a sense of panic. In turn, there’s a loss of teamwork.
When the Wildcats’ backs have been backed against a wall, they’ve seemingly been giving the ball to Rhyne Howard and praying she’ll save the day. But against teams like Texas A&M and South Carolina, who also have elite talent, Kentucky’s depth is going to have to perform in the clutch.
In both conference wins, the team had multiple role players step up in crunch time. Consequently, they won. When strategy is thrown out the window and Howard is left to attempt to save the day, the team’s chances of winning will drastically continue to decrease.
With all that said, this team is good–really good. With nearly half a season left in the tank, there’s plenty of time for the team to figure out some of their small problems. The role players have been good, but they have to execute their roles to a tee for this team to exceed. With some easy adjustments, I have no doubt the team will get over this hump, and come March, it’ll be smooth sailing on the other side.