Column: Kentucky womens basketball is on the right track


Jackson Dunavant

Kentucky Wildcats guard Jada Walker (11) gets helped up by her team during the Kentucky vs. Radford womens basketball game on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 82-78. Photo by Jackson Dunavant | Staff

Samantha Money, Asst. Sports Editor

Almost a month into regular season play, Kentucky womens basketball is on a slow but steady track to becoming a top-level SEC team.

Before the Cats’ trip to the Bahamas, the team was holding a four-game win streak but knew its first matchup against a ranked opponent would be no easy battle.

Kentucky ultimately went 1-1 in the Bahamas, losing its first game 82-74 to No. 11 Virginia Tech and winning its second 70-44 over Dayton.

While the Virginia Tech game proved that the Cats are not quite ready for higher level matchups yet, there is still something to be seen in how the team played during that matchup.

The first quarter was weaker on Kentucky’s end. The Wildcats found difficulty against the Hokies’ defense and struggled to communicate offensively with each other.

Regardless of why it happened, it was far from the best start for the Cats thus far in the season and they were outscored 29-8 in the first 10 minutes.

That said, the bounce back that was to come was what was most notable for Kentucky.

From the second quarter through the rest of the game the Wildcats accumulated 51 points and shot 55.9% percent from the field, outscoring Virginia Tech 66-53 after Kentucky’s unfavorable first quarter.

The resilience the Cats demonstrated is no doubt a powerful tool that will prove beneficial if the team continues to work on its offensive game.

In light of this, it’s worth mentioning that the dynamics of this season’s team are much different compared to last season.

Rhyne Howard was the star of the team last year, leading the Cats in points, assists, steals and rebounds.

Her leadership on and off the court was like the glue that held the team together and, with her absence after being drafted No. 1 overall into the WNBA, it would have been no shock to fans if Kentucky struggled this season to find their groove again, something that was apparent in Kentucky’s opening matchup against Radford.

That said, with the right amount of new faces on the team, the Cats have proven their potential to triumph without having that one star player that dominates the court.

Instead, they have built a team full of leaders early in the season with senior Robyn Benton leading in points average, Oregon transfer Maddie Scherr leading in rebounds and assists and sophomore Jada Walker racking up the most steals per game.

This year brings a much more well-rounded team and, while Kentucky has yet to receive a ranking this season, that should not take away from the incessant effort from these players.

With some better looks outside the paint and more Walker-level aggression on defense by the team, Kentucky seemed primed to enter conference play as a team that SEC opponents dare not take lightly.