Elzy learning as UK’s interim head coach
By Larry Vaught
After her brilliant high school career at Oldham County, Kyra Elzy left the state to play basketball for Pat Summitt at Tennessee.
“To my defense, it’s hard to say no to coach Summitt, an icon. However, this program (at Kentucky) is in a totally different place than it was when I was coming out of high school,” said Elzy.
Elzy is now the interim head coach at Kentucky after being elevated from associate coach after the surprising retirement of veteran coach Matthew Mitchell. She said in-state recruiting will be a priority for her.
“I wanted to play for coach Summitt. Now, in-state kids are huge to the success of the program,” Elzy said. “We have Erin Toller, Emma King, Blair Green, all who will play impact roles for us, and it is important for us to keep homegrown Kentucky girls at home, at the state school.”
What advice does she think Summitt would have for her in the heat of battle if she was still alive to help her?
“I think coach Summitt would say to remain poised, remain confident, but prepare. Prepare for those moments, those situations,” Elzy said. “Not only have yourself prepared, but your team prepared, so we know what we’re doing and we’re confident in it.
Preparation, that is what coach Summitt would tell me.”
That advice was helpful when Elzy had to suspend her best player, All-American Rhyne Howard, for the first two games for “not upholding the standards of the program.”
Elzy said it was an easy decision because it was the right decision – and UK won both games against Murray and Belmont.
“There is an expectation and standard we hold ourselves to. If you fall short, there will be consequences. Then we take them and move on,” Elzy said.
Elzy understands that even as talented as her team is, players still have to “buy in” into the vision for the team.
“That is what we are preaching. I talk to our players, you earn your time on the practice floor, I love you all, but at the end of the day, the job is to put five players on the floor that can help us win,” Elzy said.
And do the right things off the court as even Howard found out.