What’s a great team without a great leader? Not much. While the Kentucky Women’s Basketball team may already have someone to follow in Kyra Elzy, they’re looking to create leaders on the court.
Like most college basketball teams, Kentucky has been working hard to improve this offseason. Unlike most squads, the ‘Cats have been learning more than just basketball skills.
This summer, Coach Elzy selected four members of the team to attend a leadership academy: Rhyne Howard, Jazmine Massengill, Blair Green, and Nyah Leveretter.
Blair Green’s thoughts on the off-court training
KSR sat down and talked to a couple of these ‘Cats about this new off-season strategy. Blair Green started by helping break down the academy for us.
“Once a week we will meet with our new Coach G[oestenkors],” Green said. “We’re able to have hard conversations and just conversations about how we can better lead our team and what ways we can go about it.”
Hopefully, there will be fewer tough conversations needed this season, but better safe than sorry. While Green, Howard and Massengill seem like obvious choices, Leveretter is a bit of a surprise. As only a sophomore, Leveretter is the only underclassmen to be a part of this select group.
Although Leveretter is still new to the women’s college basketball scene, Green sees the wisdom behind teaching the sophomore forward.
“Nyah can be a great leader. I think they really want to have a younger one in there just to get it started earlier,” Green said. “When the seniors are gone next year, she can really step up and be a leader.”
It may be nice to prepare for the future, but the Kentucky Women’s Basketball team is dangerous now. With so many players returning from last year’s team, the 2021-2022 season will be the time for the ‘Cats to pounce on victory. Coach Elzy certainly knows this.
Kyra Elzy on her veteran leaders
Coach Elzy’s selection of her veteran leaders was anything but random. The second-year head coach had plenty to say about all three of her seniors in the leadership academy.
“Rhyne Howard brings a veteran experience and winning mentality. She’s more of a lead-by-example, but I’ve really challenged her for the last two years that she has to continue to find her voice,” Elzy said.
“Jazmine Massengill has really stepped up to the plate. As our returning starting point guard, she and I have had a lot of conversations about — in order for us to reach our goals, you have to be the coach on the floor. You have to lead and take charge of every situation on and off the court.”
While Howard and Massengill were easy choices for Coach Elzy, perhaps Green was the easiest.
“[Green] is the epitome of everything that I’m looking for as far as the culture player and the Kentucky brand,” Elzy said. “She’s coachable, she plays extremely hard, and she has a work ethic like no other.”
Rhyne Howard’s on her leadership
Green may represent the Kentucky Women’s Basketball brand, but Howard is the Kentucky Women’s Basketball brand.
As Coach Elzy mentioned, Howard isn’t known to necessarily be a vocal leader. Nevertheless, the reigning SEC Player of the Year feels like the leadership academy has helped her take some serious steps in the right direction.
“I do think that I’m at a very good leadership position, right now. I know that if I say something to my teammates they’re going to listen to me and they’re going to have respect for me as much as I have for them, as well,” Howard said.
Though Howard undoubtedly knows her talents, she makes it clear she doesn’t put herself above any of her teammates.
“I always tell them what I need from them on the court, off the court, and I always open it back up to me. If they have something they need to tell me, I’m willing and able to take it just as much as I expect them to take it.”
Skills such as leadership are just as vital to a team’s success as being able to shoot or dribble the ball. Fortunately for the ‘Cats, they have both on and off-court talent in spades. If great leaders truly do make great teams, BBN is in for a fun ride this upcoming season.