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Bearcats Women Wednesday - Michelle Clark-Heard

A look back at the successful first year at UC for women’s basketball and Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Cincinnati at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

We recently announced on twitter, the beginning of a new initiative here at Down the Drive. “Women Wednesday” is a new weekly column that will spotlight a specific female UC student-athlete, coach, or someone behind the scenes.

This week’s debut column is presented with Midnight Madness in mind. On Friday, the Cincinnati men’s and women’s basketball teams will practice and put on a show in front of a capacity crowd at Fifth Third Arena.

The coach of the women’s team is Michelle Clark-Heard.

Last year, the women went 24-11 overall, 12-4 in the AAC and ended their season in the Elite 8 of the WNIT. The 23 wins were the most since 2003, which is also the last team UC made the NCAA Tournament. The 12 conference wins were the most since 1999, another tournament year for the Lady Cats. They also went 17-2 at home, in the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena (lost to Old Dominion early in the season and to UConn). They won the annual Xavier game, which is always something to brag about.

Last year was the first for Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard. For the previous six years (2012-2018), Clark-Heard coached at Western Kentucky, guiding them to 4 NCAA Tournament appearances (0 wins) and 2 NIT appearances. She compiled a 154-47 overall record (76%).

She replaced Jamelle Elliot, who coached Cincinnati for 10 years. Her exit was somewhat controversial as Elliot is a famous UConn player, who also coached under Geno Auriemma as an assistant. Geno spoke out, bashing Cincinnati as did legends like Rebecco Lobo on ESPN.

Despite the backlash, Elliot had just two seasons (out of 10) with a winning record and 1 winning record in conference play, in her last season. Cincinnati made the WNIT twice during her tenure. Overall, she won just 41% of her games and just 30% within AAC play.

AD Mike Bohn made the decision after the 2018 season to make the change. And it turns out he and Clark-Heard both did their homework, because the Bearcats 2018-19 season was a huge success. Hopefully the same can be said for the 2019-20 season as well.

Around women’s sports:

The volleyball team continues to “kill” it and have been a big “hit”. Get it? No? Well, than check out this stat.

Jordan Thompson was named to the AAC Honor Roll last week and the Bearcats are off to a 6-0 start.

In soccer, Cincinnati is off to a 2-0 start in conference play, after shutting out Temple 2-0 and UConn 1-0 last week. The women are 4-5 overall and has three players receive recognition in the conference last week - Ashley Barron was named Defensive Player of the Week and Madison Less and Camryn Hartman were both named to the weekly Honor Roll.