If there was anything to gain from the Kentucky Women Basketball’s 2021 Media Day on Monday morning, it was the ‘Cats are a lean, mean fitness machine heading into the upcoming season. With a full offseason to work under new strength and conditioning coach Lee Taylor, the ‘Cats are in prime condition.
Elzy on the importance of conditioning
Last season was a waking nightmare of hands-on knees, gasping for air and relaxing on defense; not this season. With the Wildcats’ first exhibition only 10 days away, Elzy is feeling confident in her team’s conditioning.
“Really committing to the weight room, that’s one thing we did across the board as a team,” Elzy said. “We have a new strength coach in Coach Lee Taylor, who has been phenomenal. Our girls have really responded to him. We spent the summer also committing to nutrition to make sure we are fueling our bodies in order to play how we wanna play: up-tempo and aggressive defensively.”
Elzy isn’t leaving all the fun to her staff, either. The second-year head coach put her nonstop mentality on full display during the team’s open practice on Monday. From random jumping jacks to one-minute water breaks, Elzy left no stone unturned despite her team’s wishes.
Hearing is one thing, but sight is another. The physical changes for the ‘Cats are clear. Dre’Una Edwards is unrecognizable after losing nearly 20 pounds, Jazmine Massengill’s arms are rippled with muscle and Blair Green now looks like she lifts small cars in her free time. Lee Taylor is working these girls hard. As proud as Elzy is of her players’ improvements, the ‘Cats that made the changes may be even prouder.
Kentucky Women’s Basketball players on their improved fitness
Every time fitness was inevitably brought up during a player interview at Media Day, the players couldn’t help but crack a smile. They’ve worked countless hours on their shape this offseason, now they can finally sit back and admire their labor.
Rhyne Howard, for one, agreed with Elzy’s sentiment that she is “in the best shape of her life.” Here’s what Howard had to say about her health heading into her senior season.
“I can definitely feel that I’ve gotten stronger and faster. Just overall, as well, I feel like I look better,” Howard said. “With Coach Taylor, he is pushing us. He’s pushing us out of our comfort zone so much that we really have no choice but to get stronger and faster.”
Howard wasn’t the only senior happy to discuss their improved fitness. Point guard Jazmine Massengill will be responsible for pushing this year’s fast-paced offense and, consequently, is expected to be in impeccable shape. From the looks of Massengill so far this season, she adequately prepared for this role and then some.
“Coach Lee has worked tirelessly to get us in better shape and Coach Elzy worked tirelessly to get us in better shape, as well. So, we’re definitely in good shape,” Massengill said.
While the guards were focusing on becoming untiring machines, center Olivia Owens was turning herself into a brick wall. The 6-foot-4 center will not only outrank her opponents in height, but in strength.
“I’ve just been working on getting as strong as I possibly can; working on my conditioning and trying to be a big presence in the post,” Owens said.
While some of the exhausting games from last season caused nightmares for the ‘Cats, their hard-fought contests this year should leave them with sweet dreams. If the Wildcats’ goal was to be in better shape than ever heading into the 2021-2022 season, then mission accomplished.