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What I learned from the SEC tournament

Nashville — From a competitive early round Thrilling finish The SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament was held in the Championship Game on Sunday.

Here are my main points from the four days I spent watching some of the best in sports before the NCAA tournament began.

Kentucky shocked us all

All programs in the country do what Wildcats have achieved in the last few weeks and strive to play the best basketball at the right time. Kentucky has recovered from an overwhelming campaign, ending 10 consecutive regular and conference postseason games and astonishing South Carolina’s # 1 in the program’s first SEC Tournament Championship in 40 years. Wildcats himself was the only one who believed he could win the SEC tournament.

Rhein Howard certainly didn’t have to prove her splendor in Nashville, but leading her team to a championship against all possibilities is the next level of hero. The 6-foot-2 senior guard earned the tournament MVP honor after scoring an average of 22 points in four Kentucky games. This includes 32 points of performance against LSU and nearly triple-doubles against Tennessee.

The expected top WNBA draft topics have faced great pressure over the last two years. Not only did Howard bring the championship back to Kentucky, but he also watched her in front of almost every WNBA franchise, even against the top-ranked team in the country throughout the season. No matter where she goes in the draft, Howard’s influence on her basketball game goes far beyond her college career.

South Carolina’s “big” lineup is incredible

South Carolina was defeated on Sunday, but Dawn Staley’s lineup of three to four post-players will make it difficult for opponents to plan their games in NCAA tournaments.

When 6ft 4 Ariya Boston and 6-7 Camilla Cardoso throw high-low passes from each other from the free throw line, it is almost impossible to keep their length. And adding 6-4 Leticia Amihia and 6-2 Victoria Saxton to the mix makes South Carolina one of the largest rotations in the country.

On the other side of the floor, Kentucky had a hard time seeing the basket against the pair. Especially when he scored only 3 points in the second quarter. When faced with a lineup of that size, he comes to his mind and it’s easy to guess his decision. Gamecock will be in the national championship later this month, so I’ll bet on it.

Shakira Austin Shows off Pro Lady Skills

Austin has been named First Team All-SEC for the second year in a row and has established himself as one of the greatest players in history wearing Ole Miss uniforms. With an average of 15.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, the Senior Center finished Olemis 23-7, setting a new record since 2006-07. Austin also boosted his play in the SEC tournament, raising Oremis to the semi-finals with an average of 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds.

Her 27 points and 13 rebounds double-double against Florida in the quarterfinals in front of the 10 WNBA teams was the highlight of the tournament. Austin is the automatic lottery choice for the next WNBA draft and is worth taking part in the No. 1 conversation because of her ready frame, athletic performance, and ceiling. She will only get better as a professional because she is as good as she is now. Watching her 6-5 frames rise above her opponents, stealing rebounds with her power and pushing the ball to the court, reveals that her potential may be exceeded. increase. Other prospects in this draft class.

Florida relentlessness

Florida is one of the best stories of the college basketball season.This was a dormant program that I overcame Early season scandal And early in the season, they will win their top scorer transfers, five top 25 wins and a 21-10 finish. Kelly Rae Finley removed the interim tag from her title last week and signed a five-year contract as head coach to solidify her position as the leader of the program.

WNBA Draft Prospect Kiki Smith had an amazing season. She went down with an average of 14.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per match. With a knee injury at the end of the season A one-point victory over Vanderbilt in the second round of Florida. When Smith hit the floor, the Florida team went around together and held hands to help their leaders. After the victory, Finley’s eyes swelled with emotion as her player rushed to the training room with Smith.

The next day, Smith joins the team in another role on the bench, picking up the clipboard when the Gators fall to Olemis, aged 70-60, and awaiting the fate of the NCAA tournament. As an outsider, it’s hard to understand everything this team has experienced in the last eight months. If they bid for the first NCAA tournament since 2015-16, they bid with a level of collective determination that is hard to count.

Keep an eye on Vanderbilt

First-year head coach Shea Ralph has taken over the Commodore’s program, which won only nine conference games in the last four seasons, achieving the highest record of 14-18 since 2015-16. did.

Vanderbilt has made a momentary promise throughout the season, but it’s not as clear as the last two weeks when the Commodores defeated Florida on February 24 and defeated Texas A & M in the first round 85-69 of the SEC tournament. Vanderbild fell to Florida 53-52 last Thursday, one point away from advancing to the SEC tournament semi-finals.

The Commodores season may continue at WNIT, but the SEC received the following message: Watch out for Vanderbilt next year. Senior guard Jordan Cambridge is expected to return after a good season, with All-SEC Freshman honors Iyana Moore (12.2 points per game) and Sacha Washington (7) valuable. I gained experience. Ralph’s team is growing with top 100 new hires Ryan Allen and Amauri Williams joining the mix next fall.

Missouri rocky SEC finish

Aijha Blackwell did not play in three games in the last two weeks of the season, including the defeats of Kentucky and Georgia. A 6-foot guard led Missouri’s goal, averaging 31 minutes per game this season, but Missouri lost to Arkansas in overtime 61-52 in just 11 minutes in the first round of the SEC tournament. did. She stayed on the bench during her overtime when the Tigers fought to maintain hope for the NCAA tournament. Her victory would have almost solidified a large bid, but head coach Robin Pingeton continued to stand by Blackwell.

No matter what happens behind the scenes, Missouri has a comprehensive record of 18-12, a record of 7-9 SEC, and a selection Sunday to see if 70-69 has returned to number one in South Carolina. You have to wait patiently until. December 30th is enough to send to the tournament.

Rachel Garrigan is a basketball analyst in Just Women’s Sports. A former professional basketball player and college coach, she also contributes to Winsidr. Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachGall..

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Written by Fem Society

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