The University of Cincinnati women's basketball team held their first week practice of starting last Sunday and from the get-go the team seemed ready to work. On hiatus since last season's loss to West Virginia in the Big East tournament, head coach Jamelle Elliott has put together a new staff and added three incoming freshmen to go alongside 8 veteran players and a transfer from Michigan, Dayeesha Hollins and a junior college transfer, Lesha Dunn. The Bearcats look to improve in the third year of the Elliott era.
Injury concerns was a constant theme during last season with a number of players unable to contribute during games and at practices. The beginning of this season has a new feel to it as injury concerns are extinguished and all 12 Bearcats have been participating in practices. The only limited participation was from Elese Daniel who is coming off an ACL injury and Chanel Chisholm who is coming off a knee scope. Both players practiced sparingly during Sunday's first practice and plan to see more action as the preseason evolves.
"Last year was between seven and nine players that we had on the court that could practice," Elliott said. " Today we had 12 guys at a time that were ready to get in, get better, do the drills, and do the things that we need to do to be a better team."
Elliott was very happy that the first three-hour practice of the year and the rest of the first week was a successful one. The returning players showed that their off-season workouts allowed for high energy levels on the court. The freshman showed some conditioning concerns, but they were able to get through their first week of collegiate practices for their career, a good step in the right direction for Elliott and her staff.
"They had great attitude, the communication was good as they talked for the most part pretty well," Elliott said. "Overall I was really happy with what I got out of these guys today at the first day of practice for three hours."
The women will continue to be pushed, as practice continues to be a daily gig. Elliott has stressed that her players must work a hard as possible in order to get into game shape.
"When they are tired they need to continue to focus mentally and continue to encourage each other vocally," Elliott said. "When they are tired I want them to not think about themselves but think about their team."
The only distraction to the women's basketball program has been the recent evolvement of recruiting violations that occurred last season. The program, now on probation, received these allegations stemming from a number of impermissible phone calls to recruits from an assistant coach. That coach is no longer with the team and Elliott and the program does not support the incidents that occurred almost a year ago.
"Once this was brought to my attention I needed to set a tone for my program that this wasn't going to be something that my program stood for," Elliott said. "We have moved on from it and obviously I have two new members to my staff here now and were just hoping that we can move on."