Moving on from a head coach is something no program or team ever wants to feel the need to do. However, there comes a time where it is clear that a relationship has run its natural course between a program and the head coach of a team and a change needs to be made. In the case of UTSA women’s basketball and head coach Kristen Holt, that point appears to have been reached.
As a whole, UTSA women’s basketball has rarely been what you can call a “successful” basketball program. Since moving to Conference USA, UTSA has had only one winning season which came in the 2014-15 season under former UTSA head coach Lubomyr Lichonczak. With this in mind, expectations need to be set about the struggling program Holt walked into at the beginning of her tenure. However, no team hires a head coach without the expectation that they will improve the program and its performance during their tenure. Unfortunately, Coach Holt’s tenure has not been one of improvement, but of decline.
Starting with Holt’s first season as head coach during the 2017-18 season, she took over a team that had gone 14-16 and 10-8 in C-USA the year before while averaging 70.2 points per game and outscoring opponents by an average of 1.0 points per game. In her first season at the head of the bench, Holt’s team finished with a 9-21 record overall and 6-10 in conference play. The team saw their scoring average dip to 60.7 points per game and they were outscored by an average of 9.9 points per game.
Holt’s second season during the 2018-19 season continued to show signs of downturn. The team finished the year just 7-21 overall and 2-14 in conference play. The team averaged 58.6 points per game and they were outscored by an average of 10.4 points per game. The third year of Holt’s tenure continued to follow this steady pattern of decline, as the team finished the year out 6-23 overall and just 2-16 in conference play. Perhaps most alarming, however, was the fact that the team closed out the year on a 15-game losing streak. Looking at the stats, it is clear to see how such a poor record occurred, since the team averaged just 58.7 points per game and was outscored by a margin of -17.1 points per game.
This brings us to the 2020-21 season. Following the postponements of their games the past two weeks, UTSA is currently slated to finish the season with a 2-17 overall record and an 0-14 mark in conference play unless those postponed games are rescheduled. The team is actually averaging the most points per game they ever have under Holt with 61.1, but the defense has not been able to hold up, as they are still being outscored by 11.7 points per game. Similar to the year prior, this season’s team has also had to endure a 15-game losing streak.
In totality, Holt has gone just 24-82 in her tenure as the head coach for UTSA, that stands as a win percentage of just 23.5%. Her conference record is slightly better at 10-54, a winning percentage of just 29.4%, but this number is still far below what could be considered acceptable. Four of the five worst record seasons in the last 20 years for UTSA have come under Holt’s leadership although it should be noted all of Holt’s seasons have taken place while UTSA was part of Conference USA, something only her predecessor Lichonczak had to deal with.
The results of the team also cannot be laid at the feet of bad recruiting or a lack of talented players. Players such as Mikayla Woods, Karrington Donald, Timea Toth, Marie Benson and Adryanna Quezada have all shown the ability to be the best player on the court throughout each of their respective UTSA careers. Despite having players such as these to work with, the results simply haven’t matched up to the level of talent available to UTSA.
Change can be hard in sports, and some of the greatest fears we as humans possess are of the unknown. There is no guarantee there will be a better coach out there for the team than coach Holt. There never is such a guarantee when a team goes looking for a head coach. At the same time, however, we have seen what happens when a team manages to find the right coach to turn a program around, even here at UTSA. Jeff Traylor took over as the head coach of a UTSA football program that was treading water with no direction and took the team to a level of competitiveness that the program had never experienced before. Derek Pittman took over as the head coach for a UTSA soccer program that had been stagnant for years and in just his second season he led the team to their best winning percentage since 2011 and has the program headed in a positive direction. All it takes is the right coach to jumpstart a program and given the results we have seen from Holt in her tenure, it may be worth it for UTSA to explore their options elsewhere.
Coach Holt has been with the UTSA program in some capacity since the 2013-14 season. It has been a long relationship, but it has reached a natural endpoint. In the interests of turning around the women’s basketball program, and reaching a level of competitiveness once again, the time has come for UTSA basketball to part ways with Coach Holt.