Dec. 22, 2009
By Mark Schmetzer
The last time Jamelle Elliott was on a team that lost five games in one season was 2005-06 as an assistant coach at Connecticut. Still, the Huskies didn't lose their fifth game until bowing out in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament to Duke.
You can understand the frustrations of UC's first-year women's basketball coach when her team already has five losses before conference play begins. However, Elliott was fully aware of the task at hand when she took over the Bearcats.
"(I was) realistic," she said. "It would have been unrealistic to think we'd win every game; it just wasn't going to happen. I know it's a process, but it doesn't make me feel better when we lose. I'm not surprised by losing. Am I upset? Yes."
With their 62-50 win over Valparaiso on Monday night, the Bearcats are back above .500 at 6-5. While winning is obviously important, it's not the biggest concern at this point in terms of building a program.
"Improving," Elliott said of what is most important. "There are things you can learn whether you win or you lose. When we lose, I'm constantly telling my players what they got better at. They were better at this; they were better at that. We just need to continue to get better."
One area the Bearcats need to improve upon is their ability to score. According to Elliott, it is also the area that is most frustrating.
"We have to be able to put points up on the board," she said. "(In the Valparaiso game) we won by 12, but we went a 10-minute stretch with no field goals. There aren't going to be many times you can win like that (in Big East play). We can't do that. We're not going to be in the games (if that keeps happening). It's my job to figure out ways for us to score."
The Bearcats have one more non-conference game - next week against Wright State - to try to get the offensive woes fixed before opening Big East Conference play against Louisville on Jan. 2. Elliott is confident her team will show up for practice every day ready to improve.
"I see the look in their eyes," she said. "Sure, there are going to be teams we don't match up with, but they are focused and aware of what we want them to do. They're working hard and they want to get better."