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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Dani Busboom Teleconerence -- Thursday Cardinal Couple

Volleyball Coach Busboom Kelly

UofL Volleyball Head Coach Dani Busboom Kelly held a teleconference with media yesterday, and I took a few minutes out of my afternoon to hop on the call along with Paulie and at least a couple of other media folks.

Top of mind was how the coaching staff is staying in touch with the student athletes, and working on keeping everyone in shape.

 The staff has taken on a group of players each, to do weekly check-ins with.

Coach was asked to recap a little bit of the season and to share how the team overcame some of the mid-year "slump" that they fell into after Melanie McHenry's injury took her out of the rotation.  Coach spoke highly of Aiko Jones who became one of the dominant offensive threats on the team in the latter half of the season, saying "Aiko Jones emerged and became the player we knew she could be."

The team was able to get a lot of practice in this spring before everything got shut down, thanks in
part to essentially the team returning intact from the fall season.  As outlined in Sunday's article, McHenry is no longer playing but that happened mid-season, so that adjustment had largely already been made.  There have been a couple of other minor shuffles in personnel, but largely the team was able to hit the court and start team practices as an intact unit where many other teams were having to do individual practice more because they had more key personnel missing due to graduation.

Coach was asked about incoming freshman and Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year Anna DeBeer and said she expected DeBeer to compete for playing time right out of the gate.  Obviously the coaching staff is excited to get DeBeer and the rest of the freshman class on campus, and DeBeer specifically has been watched by the staff for the three years that they have been here.

Where is the opportunity for improvement for the coming season?  The defense was Coach's answer.  It's been an interesting turn of fortunes for the team during Busboom Kelly's tenure with the first couple of seasons having more defensively oriented players than they knew what to do with, and now the team is very offensively minded.  Coach hopes that with another year under their belt the defense can develop more, and perhaps be bolstered by some of the incoming freshman class.

When asked about the schedule for the fall, we were told that it is not quite finalized.  One wrinkle, even this far out, that COVID-19 has wrought with the schedule is that the home opening tournament is having to be changed because the weekend it was scheduled is the weekend that the Kentucky Derby will be run, and trying to hold an athletic event on UofL campus in such close proximity to Churchill Downs is just really not feasible.  So the team is expected to borrow a page from the softball team's playbook and spend the first 3 weeks of the season on the road.

Asked to give her impressions of the ACC for the coming year, coach referenced the usual suspects.  Pitt graduated some players but still have a nice core returning, Notre Dame continues to rebuild and are starting to compete in the top echelon of the conference again, and Florida State can never be forgotten in volleyball.  Busboom Kelly also mentioned Syracuse as a potential threat for the year, as they are returning many of their great players.

In conclusion, I think we're starting to see that the impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns will have a long tail of effects, perhaps much farther than many were thinking.  In the meantime, the volleyball team is doing their best to stay in shape and fit, a much bigger challenge when players are self isolating and may not have access to full gym facilities.  Aiko Jones, for example, has returned home to Kingston, Jamaica, but having traveled there internationally, she is having to self-isolate even from her own family in their house.  Getting to a gym for workouts and even individual practice isn't an option in that case.

Overall, it was a good view into the current state of UofL Volleyball and some of the effort going in to trying to bring about as much normalcy as possible.




1 comment:

  1. Dani should have another monster squad. When the fall sports will begin is anybody's guess with Covid 19 being our prime worry these days.

    Great scene in the grocery last night. Mother with kids last night was mortified because she didn't have enough money to pay for her groceries. Guy in line behind her tells cashier to give her all her money back and hands cashier his credit card. Despite her protests, he pays for her.

    We're all in this together.

    Curtis "there is a light in every darkness" Franklin.


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