Mitch Barnhart confident Kyra Elzy can be long term solution for women’s basketball

Mitch Barnhart wants to get a look at what game plan Krya Elzy, right, has for UK women's basketball. (UK Athletics Photo)

Associate coach Kyra Elzy was elevated to interim coach when Kentucky women’s head coach Matthew Mitchell suddenly retired from coaching last week due to health concerns. He had been UK’s head coach the last 13 years. Kentucky opens the season Wednesday afternoon — less than two weeks after Mitchell’s resignation.

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart, who hired Mitchell, said if he didn’t think Elzy would be the “long term solution or thought” he would not have named her interim coach.

“Usually in an interview process you have the opportunity to spend a little time going through a couple of different conversations and just talking philosophically and making sure that you’re aligned, and I haven’t had the opportunity, because of COVID and how fast this occurred,” Barnhart said.

“I didn’t get a chance to have those conversations with Kyra, and I think that is an important step, in just making sure that you’re aligned philosophically and the way we’re trying to build our culture and our program, and just making sure that we’re thoughtful in that.

“I think that is part of my due diligence, and the thing that I am responsible for as the athletic director, and she understands that, and I think that is a step we all have to take.”

Barnhart recalled Elzy sitting in his office about a year ago talking about what it would take for her to become a head coach.

“I think she knew the answer before she asked the question because she is really smart. She is prepared and she has a game plan, I just want to know what the game plan looks like,” Barnhart said. “You know, just like any coach, you don’t’ walk in without a game plan, and as the athletic director, I’d like to know what the game plan is.”

Barnhart is not going to set a timeline for when he’ll meet with Elzy to discuss more because he wants her focused on getting this season started.

“She has worked really hard over the last six months, and she is ready. We’re ready to enjoy the fruits of her labor and how hard she has prepared,” Barnhart said.

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