The Kentucky Women’s Basketball team’s season surely didn’t end the way fans wanted, but it wasn’t a complete failure, either. Although the Wildcats did some things wrong this year, they did even more things right. Last Sunday, I shared my harsh thoughts on the team’s season, but in a change of pace, let’s talk about what the team did well.
Players showed potential
The Wildcats may be missing consistency, but they’re not missing potential. The ‘Cats have plenty of players that can fill it up in a hurry. In fact, the Wildcats have nine players returning next year who scored in double figures at least once this past season.
Furthermore, Kentucky is returning nine of its top 10 scorers. With an offseason to grow, each player will only be more adept at scoring in the 2021-2022 season. Specifically, players such as Jazmine Massengill and Treasure Hunt, who came alive late in the team’s season will be serious scoring threats for the Wildcats sooner rather than later.
Additionally, an offseason will give the Wildcats’ personnel time to push their team chemistry to new heights. With an unprecedented amount of transfers due to COVID, oftentimes the team seemed to struggle to find a role for every player.
Players like Robyn Benton and Olivia Owens started out their seasons strong only to slip through the cracks as the year progressed. With months for the coaching staff to figure out the best rotations, the squad will likely be more knowledgeable of their positions than ever before come winter.
Coach Elzy may not have led her ‘Cats to immediate tournament success, but that’ll come with time. For all the criticism she has received, history has shown she’s done better than most first-time Kentucky head coaches.
In reality, the Kentucky Women’s Basketball coaches of the past have essentially all had worse or similar first years as Elzy. Matthew Mitchell went 17-16 his first season as the Kentucky head coach and the team was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Women’s NIT.
Going further back, Mickie DeMoss struggled even more in her first season as head coach. DeMoss led the team to an 11-17 record and couldn’t even make the NIT. The same goes for Bernadette Maddox before her and Sharon Fanning before her.
All in all, Coach Elzy had a really solid first season as head coach. Obviously, Elzy came into the game with a stacked hand, but nonetheless, she deserves credit for what she was able to accomplish.
The Wildcats went 18-9 and were able to defeat five ranked opponents. Elzy undeniably allowed the team to slip up against a few lesser opponents, but this is a common issue for any first-time head coach. Elzy will have time to look over this film and work on how to adjust her strategies mid-game during the offseason.
In the same way the players will be able to develop from the Wildcats’ upsetting second-round exit, so will Coach Elzy and her staff. These things take time and although the Kentucky fan base isn’t known for its patience, I think it would be wise to offer some to Coach Elzy and her team.
In a year where it seemed like nothing good would happen for Kentucky fans, it was upsetting to see the Kentucky Women’s Basketball team come up short. However, they gave us an admittedly fun ride and more importantly, hope for the future.
This program is only going to get better. Both the staff and players learned a lot about themselves and each other this season. If the team takes the offseason seriously, the sequel to this season is going to be a blockbuster and something you’re not going to want to miss.