UK women: Tennessee assistant Kyra Elzy expects emotional return

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMarch 1, 2013 

  • Next game

    No. 8 Tennessee at No. 10 Kentucky

    When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

It would only seem logical for Kyra Elzy to do the scouting report on Kentucky.

After all, the Tennessee assistant coach spent four seasons on the UK sidelines. She played a huge role in recruiting the players. She would know the Cats' tendencies and strategies better than anyone.

But Elzy didn't want to do it.

"It's a little too close to home for me right now," she said Friday morning, two days before the No. 8 Lady Vols will take on No. 10 Kentucky in the regular-season finale for both teams. "It's still so fresh; I'm already going to be emotional anyway. I just thought it would be best that I didn't have this one."

Of course, Elzy will help fellow assistant Dean Lockwood with some details of the scouting report, but she didn't want it to be her primary responsibility. "Sometimes when you're emotionally so close to something, sometimes it's not the best thing to do."

It will be hard enough to look out on the Memorial Coliseum court and see so many familiar faces in blue.

Then on the UK bench, there's Coach Matthew Mitchell, whom she said is like a brother to her, and assistant coach Shalon Pillow, whom Elzy played with at Tennessee. Pillow was in Elzy's wedding last summer.

"For those 40 minutes, I have to set emotions aside and really focus on the job at hand," Elzy said. "But I love those kids. I love Coach Mitchell. You've laughed with them; you've cried with them. There are so many emotions. You can't set those aside when you've been in the trenches with someone."

Elzy was so invested in the Kentucky program that Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick said she wasn't sure she'd be able to lure the former Lady Vols player back to Knoxville when she took over the program from Pat Summitt.

"Kyra played here; she has an invested interest in it," Warlick said. "She would've never left Kentucky had it not been for this program and it being Tennessee. ... I just think she left because she felt a need to help continue on the tradition that Pat built. I'm very, very grateful that she did."

Mitchell said his team's focus will be on getting a victory for seniors A'dia Mathies and Brittany Henderson for their last game at Memorial Coliseum, not who is seated on the opposing bench.

Two Lady Vols injured

Two key Tennessee contributors injured their right knees in the win over Texas A&M on Thursday night.

Starting point guard Ariel Massengale and forward Isabelle Harrison will both undergo magnetic resonance imaging scans on Friday and be evaluated, Warlick told the Herald-Leader.

Harrison, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, has started in 17 of 21 games this season for Tennessee and is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. She also averages two blocks a contest.

Massengale, a 5-6 sophomore point guard, has started in 23 of 28 games and is averaging 8.2 points and 4.8 assists. She is a key ball-handler for the Lady Vols who averages 30.7 minutes a game.

Seeding scenarios

Kentucky will be either the No. 2 seed or the No. 3 seed in next week's Southeastern Conference Tournament depending on how Sunday plays out for three teams all within a game of each other in the standings.

If UK beats Tennessee, it will be a No. 2 seed and play on Friday night at 6 p.m. against the winner of the game between the No. 7 and No. 10 seeds.

If the Cats lose and Texas A&M beats Louisiana State, UK is a No. 2 seed. If UK loses and the Aggies fall and Georgia tops Vanderbilt in Athens, then the Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed and UK is the No. 3 seed, which plays at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night against the winner of the game between seeds six and 11.


Next game

No. 8 Tennessee at No. 10 Kentucky

When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241 Twitter: @jenheraldleader Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com

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