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The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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COLUMN: When is enough, enough?

Kentucky+head+coach+Kyra+Elzy+coaches+her+team+during+during+the+Kentucky+vs.+Minnesota+womens+basketball+game+on+Wednesday%2C+Dec.+6%2C+2023%2C+at+Rupp+Arena+in+Lexington%2C+Kentucky.+Kentucky+lost+76-57.+Photo+by+Travis+Fannon+%7C+Staff
Travis Fannon
Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy coaches her team during during the Kentucky vs. Minnesota women’s basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 76-57. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

It goes without saying that this season for Kentucky women’s basketball (9-15, 2-8) hasn’t gone the way those in and around the program initially had anticipated.

After an all-out collapse against Mississippi State that saw Kentucky blow a five-point lead with under a minute left in regulation on its way to an overtime loss, Kentucky would find itself in its second matchup involving the two lowest ranked teams in the conference this season as it faced off against the Georgia Bulldogs.

The first SEC toilet bowl resulted in a 76-71 win over Missouri for Kentucky, which stands as the Cat’s most recent victory, but the second would be much the opposite as the Cats blew a 15-point lead in the first half to fall to the Dawgs and find themselves two spots out of last in SEC rankings.

Fear of losing out in conference play continued to loom over the Wildcats as they headed back to Lexington to take on the Texas A&M Aggies, with yet another late collapse extending what is now a five-game losing streak.

Kentucky guard Saniah Tyler shoots the ball during Kentucky vs Texas A&M women’s basketball game on Sunday, February. 11, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 44-61. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff (Sydney Yonker)

With an abundance of misfortune coming against the slimmest conference competition the Wildcats have faced all season, it brings to question where the issues in this program reside and how they can be resolved.

For lack of a better term, the seat could not be hotter for head coach Kyra Elzy, with multiple people across multiple platforms saying her termination as the head coach of Kentucky women’s basketball is long overdue.

To put it bluntly, they’re not wrong.

Had it not been for the two wins Kentucky earned in last season’s SEC Tournament, there is little doubt that Elzy would have been out as head coach, but much like the year prior when Kentucky upset No. 1 South Carolina on its way to an SEC Championship, regular season mediocrity was overshadowed by a postseason spark.

That same mediocrity has lingered into this season, a campaign that has seen the Wildcats come out on top in just two conference games as they continue the search for their first road victory of the season.

With just six regular season games left, the Wildcats boast an impressive 0-10 record away from home.

Unless the SEC Tournament could be uprooted from Greenville, South Carolina, and brought to Rupp Arena, an early conference tournament exit seems all but inevitable for Kentucky.

In times such as this where things couldn’t be worse, there are two factors that can be questioned of both players and coaches: ability and effort.

There have been sparks with this team and one of the biggest came against Mississippi State where, apart from the final four minutes, one could argue that the Wildcats played their most complete game at a physical level. But despite a promising performance, a loss is still a loss.

Consistency is one of the most pivotal factors that a team can bring to every single game, and no one can judge a squad or a coach by how they perform in the first three quarters or how big of a lead they build in the first 15 minutes.

Kentucky guard Emma King shoots the ball during Kentucky vs Texas A&M women’s basketball game on Sunday, February. 11, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 44-61. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff (Sydney Yonker)

If they can’t get the job done in complete fashion, Kentucky needs to find someone who can.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the gaping holes in Kentucky’s game and, while poor effort from players is at fault at times, it is the job of an effective coach to inspire confidence and produce results from their players, a trait that Elzy has yet to put on display.

Despite the misfortune, it is hard to deny that this Kentucky team has talent, with multiple SEC head coaches labeling senior Ajae Petty as the most improved player in the conference and fellow seniors Eniya Russell and Maddie Scherr having the best seasons of their collegiate careers.

Regardless, with the wrong person at the helm, talent can go to waste. With the season too far gone it seems as if Kentucky fans will have to hope for another miraculous SEC Tournament run.

With the postseason approaching and Kentucky tacking on loss after loss – and with Kentucky’s upcoming opponents being nothing short of a gauntlet – another year as the 14-seed seems very probable for the Cats, who are staring down the barrel at matchups against No. 1 South Carolina and No. 13 LSU yet to come.

With little hope for shock victories to come, the question remains: when is enough, enough? At what point does it fall into the territory of insanity to try the same thing over and over with similar results?

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