Welcome to a new era at Cats Coverage! We are excited to add women's basketball to our already growing number of sports that we are covering for the BBN. With the football team on a break and the volleyball season coming to a sudden end, lots of fans (including myself) are turning their attention to Kyra Elzy's squad as the season begins to ramp up. To help you get caught up, lets take a look at what has transpired so far in the 2021-22 campaign.
Weak non-conference schedule
Similarly to the men, the women have played a relatively easy non-conference schedule outside of one top-ten matchup against Indiana. We'll look at that game a little deeper in a moment, but Kentucky has handled their business in the games where they were the heavy favorite. In their six victories, the Wildcats have won by an average of 32.3 ppg. While impressive, it is worth noting that only one of those victories was against a power five opponent (West Virginia). Nonetheless, Kentucky has avoided upsets and set themselves up well as they enter their hardest stretch of non-conference games with DePaul and Louisville looming later this week
The Indiana game
Kentucky's lone ranked matchup of the season came on November 13th in a road loss to Indiana. The 21-point margin of defeat may seem like a cause for concern, but it is worth noting the game was much more completive than that score may indicate as the Hoosiers pulled away in the fourth quarter. Poor shooting was the Wildcats' demise that day as the team shot a combined 30.8% from the three-point line and 60% from the free throw line. Comparatively, Indiana shot 54.5% from three and 85.7% from the charity stripe. It was clear that Kentucky's offense was rattled in this game with the lack of offensive execution. Kyra Elzy noted that she thought the team "settled" on a lot of their shots throughout the game. Thankfully for Elzy, this was not a sign of things to come as the offense has responded nicely since then, scoring over 80 in three of their next four games. While this result was disappointing, the Cats will have plenty more opportunities throughout the loaded SEC schedule to pick up quality wins against ranked opponents.
Rhyne Howard makes history
One thing that has remained consistent throughout this season is the masterful offensive prowess of Rhyne Howard. During Kentucky's matchup against Merrimack on Sunday, Howard moved up to fourth all-time on the scoring list. Coming into the game, Howard ranked sixth on this list. The future UK hall-of-famer has been lighting up Memorial Coliseum since the moment she got on campus and this accomplishment comes as a surprise to nobody who has been watching her since day one. With 48 points needed to pass Victoria Dunlap for third on the list, it is likely Howard will be making even more history within the next 2-3 games.
Seven games in, there is still a lot of unknown surrounding this team as the quality of opponents have not given the fans a good measuring stick as to how good the Cats really can be. In a loaded conference such as the SEC, Kentucky will need to pass some important tests this week as DePaul and Louisville will be a major step up in competition relative to what the Cats have seen so far. With a returning star such as Rhyne Howard and improving role players such as freshman Jada Walker, Kentucky has the tools to be a contender in the SEC and across the country!