Former UConn standout and long-time assistant Jamelle Elliott realized coaching Cincinnati would not be easy when she took the job before the 2009-10 season. And it hasn’t gotten any easier after finishing 16-16 in 2011-12.
The university seems patient. It extended Elliott’s first contract as a head coach three more years in July 2012, meaning she now has security through the 2017-18 season.
But key injuries have left the Bearcats (8-10, 0-5) short-handed, and on a five-game losing streak, as it prepares for Saturday’s game against No. 3 UConn in Cincinnati.
“Before the DePaul game [earlier this week], we decided to give ourselves individual goals outside of the big picture,” Elliott said. “For the most part, we started to achieve those goals and my expectation is not going to be any different when Connecticut comes here on Saturday.
“Are we going to beat Connecticut? Anything is possible, but at the end of the day, I want to make sure we go out there and give maximum effort. That can mean losing the game but still leaving that floor feeling like we gave it everything we have. That’s the big-picture goal, but … I feel like small victories are going to be something that is going to be important to us for the rest of the year.”
After losing to Ohio State, 87-49, on Nov. 14, the Bearcats won three straight and five of six. But since then they’ve win just two games since Dec. 15.
“We were thrown into the fire right away at Ohio State and got our tails handed to us,” Elliott said. “But if there was such a thing as a good loss, that was it because it kind of woke us up and refocused us for the remainder of the year.
“From that day on, we were trying to beat Ohio State in practice. We prepared for the day we’d meet a team like them again so we could be ready.”
The Bearcats have had Jeanise Randolph for just six games this season due to a knee injury. Starting point guard Dayeesha Hollins missed two games with an ankle sprain. Lovett has also missed time with a knee sprain.