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Olivia Owens May Be the Paint Presence Kentucky Needs

Grant Grubbs06/27/21


Article written by:On3 imageGrant Grubbs


There’s no doubt Kentucky’s squad struggled against height last season. Fortunately for the 'Cats, one player may be able to help this year’s team with that issue. 6-foot-4 Olivia Owens will be instrumental in protecting the paint this upcoming season. Although Owens undoubtedly has natural ability, she didn't always get to show it off during the 2020-2021 season. In fact, Owens only averaged 12.4 minutes, 4.4 points, and 2.8 rebounds per game. Admittedly, these numbers are a far cry from elite. Nonetheless, Owens has shown glimpses of her potential and, with any luck, she'll access this potential for the upcoming season. Owens first put her potential on display early last season. In just the fifth game of the year, Owens record a solid 10 points and five rebounds to help defeat Marshall. To follow this stellar performance up, Owens dropped 10 points and nine rebounds against Wofford. This contest would end up being Owens' best of the season. The center never again scored in the double-digits or brought in more than five boards. So, what was different about these early games in the season? The answer may be more simple than you would think. Neither Marshall nor Wofford had a single player taller than 6-foot-1. Thus, Owens could easily dominate by simply using her height. [caption id="attachment_329896" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] Photo by Hannah Phillips | UK Athletics[/caption] On the flip side, when Owens matched up against similarly sized competition, she struggled. Specifically, Owens failed to dominate in the same way during conference play. Even worse, Coach Elzy noticed this pattern and took action. Owens did not get a single minute of playing time during the SEC Tournament. Even as bigs such as Georgia's Jenna Staiti wreaked havoc on the 'Cats, Owens was forced to sit idly by and watch in horror. When Coach Elzy was asked about Owen's absence from the court, she simply responded by saying it was a "coaching decision." Message received. From a surplus of turnovers to a lack of scoring, Owens had been unable to contribute during Kentucky's short-lived SEC Tournament run. With all this said, it may not seem like the best selling point on why Owens may be the perfect solution to the Wildcats' paint problem. However, Owens' season was not over. Entering March Madness with some new motivation, Owens performed. In the team's first-round matchup against Idaho State, Owens scored six points in just five minutes. Additionally, she grabbed three boards (more than her season average). Following this, Owens proved her consistency when scoring six points again versus Iowa. More importantly, Owens was on the court two times longer in the second round than the first, showing an obvious increase in confidence from Coach Elzy. Not to mention, Owens did not have a single turnover during these two games. Owens' NCAA Tournament statistics may not be mind-blowing, but they don't need to be. In reality, her statistics were exactly what they had to be: just enough to reinstate Elzy's confidence and excite fans for the upcoming season. I, for one, am buying into the excitement and so should you. Previous Player Spotlights:

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