What is a great team without a great leader? Not a lot. While the Kentucky women’s basketball team may already have someone to follow in Kyra Elzy, they are looking to build leaders on the court.
Like most college basketball teams, Kentucky has been working hard to improve this offseason. Unlike most teams, the ‘Cats learned more than basketball skills.
This summer, coach Elzy selected four team members to participate in a leadership academy: Rhyne Howard, Jazmine Massengill, Blair Green and Nyah Leveretter.
Thoughts from Blair Green on off-court training
KSR sat down and talked to a few of these cats about this new off-season strategy. Blair Green started by helping us demolish the academy.
“Once a week, we will meet our new Coach G[oestenkors]”Green said.” We can have tough conversations and just conversations about how we can better lead our team and how to do it. “
Hopefully there will be fewer difficult conversations needed this season, but prevention is better than cure. While Green, Howard, and Massengill seem like obvious choices, Leveretter is a bit of a surprise. As a sophomore only, Leveretter is the only subclass to be part of this select group.
While Leveretter is still new to the college girls’ basketball scene, Green sees the wisdom behind teaching the second-year forward.
“Nyah can be a great leader. I think they really want to have a younger one just to get it started earlier, ”Green said. “When the seniors leave next year, she can really step up and become a leader.”
It might be good to prepare for the future, but the Kentucky Women’s Basketball Team is dangerous now. With so many returning players from last year’s squad, the 2021-22 season will be the time for the ‘Cats’ to pounce on victory. Coach Elzy certainly knows that.
Kyra Elzy on her veteran leaders
Coach Elzy’s selection of his veteran leaders was anything but random. The second-year head coach had a lot to say about his three senior leadership academies.
“Rhyne Howard brings veteran experience and a winning mentality. She’s more of an example, but I’ve really challenged her over the past two years that she has to keep finding her voice, ”Elzy said.
“Jazmine Massengill is really up to the task. As the returning playmaker, she and I have had a lot of conversations about it – in order for us to achieve our goals, you have to be the coach on the pitch. You must lead and take charge of every situation on and off the pitch.
While Howard and Massengill were easy choices for Coach Elzy, Green was perhaps the easier.
“[Green] is the epitome of everything I look for when it comes to the cultural actor and the Kentucky brand, ”said Elzy. “She’s coachable, she plays extremely hard and she has a work ethic like no other.”
Rhyne Howard talks about her leadership
Green may represent Kentucky’s brand of women’s basketball, but Howard is Kentucky’s brand of women’s basketball.
As Coach Elzy mentioned, Howard isn’t necessarily known for being a vocal leader. Still, the reigning SEC Player of the Year feels like the leadership academy has helped him take some serious steps in the right direction.
“I think I’m in a very good leadership position right now. I know if I say something to my teammates they are going to listen to me and they are going to have as much respect for me as I have for them too, ”said Howard.
Although Howard undoubtedly knows his talents, she specifies that she does not place herself above any of her teammates.
“I always tell them what I need from them on the pitch, off the pitch, and I always open it up. If they have something to tell me, I am ready and able to take it as much as I expect them to take it.
Skills such as leadership are just as essential to a team’s success as the ability to shoot or dribble the ball. Luckily for the ‘Cats, they have both on and off the field talent in spades. If great leaders really make great teams, BBN is going to have fun this coming season.