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COLUMN: Kentucky women’s basketball was worryingly bad at Paradise Jam. Where does it go from here?

Carter Skaggs
Kentucky Wildcats head coach Kyra Elzy speaks during a post-game press conference after the No. 14 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Tennessee womens basketball game in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, March 3, 2023, at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. Tennessee won 80-71. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff

Kentucky women’s basketball set sail for paradise last week as the Cats were participants in the annual Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S Virgin Islands.

Through much excitement and anticipation, the Cats traveled over 1,800 miles to the tropics where they were faced with three uphill battles against the No. 10 ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack, the No. 3 ranked Colorado Buffaloes and the unranked, but feisty Cincinnati Bearcats.

The mission was to go down there and win basketball games – at least one – however Kentucky went 0-3 and floundered in the Caribbean.

Heading into Paradise Jam, the Wildcats knew they were set up for a massive challenge as North Carolina State and Colorado were both nationally ranked in the top ten, averaging more than 80 points per game.

Kentucky Wildcats guard Maddie Scherr (22) falls to the ground as she is fouled during the No. 14 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Alabama womens basketball game in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday, March 2, 2023, at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. Kentucky won 71-58. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff (Carter Skaggs)

When it was time to go to battle in an attempt to shock the world, it seemed Kentucky’s luggage full of offense got lost at the airport as the Cats sank their own chances by turning the ball over 64 times through the three games.

If any basketball team wants a chance at winning, it simply can’t average 21.3 turnovers a game through three games.

If Kentucky had managed to limit its turnovers it would already have opened up chances for more buckets, and more buckets obviously means more points scored.

Kentucky only averaged 49.6 points while going 45-146 from the field throughout the whole tournament.

When it wasn’t turning the ball over, the Cats were getting looks at the basket, but had an alarmingly difficult time getting them to fall.

Another thing Kentucky lacked was defense.

One would think that if a team can’t score points, maybe it can stop the other team from scoring points, right?


The Cats gave up a total of 245 points in the three games, good for an average of 81.6 points let up per contest, which is not ideal when trying to win basketball games to say the least.

So where does Kentucky go from here?

The first step would be to limit the turnovers because once it does that it immediately opens up more offensive chances.

Secondly, while it may sound extremely basic, the Cats need to work on shooting.

Shooting 30% through three games is mind boggling and should be a major concern to the team. If it can’t solve its defense, it desperately needs a strong offense to make up for it.

Alternatively, if the Cats can’t solve their offensive woes, they need to play more hard-nosed, aggressive defense.

The care to stop the ball just didn’t seem to be there in the Caribbean. If the Cats can limit the amount of points opponents are scoring, the inability to consistently find the basket becomes less of a problem.

Simply put, the Wildcats’ performance in the tournament was unacceptable and, if they continue to perform at that level, fans will be in for a very long season.

Shooting, defending and preventing turnovers may seem like incredibly basic and vague fixes, but the Cats failed in all three categories across the entire tournament.

If the star power isn’t there, the fundamentals need to be. Thus far, the fundamentals certainly aren’t there, and this team definitely doesn’t have a Rhyne Howard to make up for it.

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