The university seems patient. It extended Elliott's first contract as head coach three more years in July, meaning she has security through the 2017-18 season.
But key injuries have left the Bearcats short-handed and on a five-game losing streak as it prepares for Saturday's game against No. 3 UConn in Cincinnati.
"The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is get down on yourself," Geno Auriemma said. "But she is a pretty positive person. "
Elliott said she has refined some of the team objectives for the season.
"Before the DePaul game [earlier this week], we decided to give ourselves individual goals outside of the big picture," Elliott said. "For the most part, we started to achieve those goals and my expectation is not going to be any different when Connecticut comes here on Saturday.
"Are we going to beat Connecticut? Anything is possible, but at the end of the day, I want to make sure we go out there and give maximum effort. That can mean losing the game but still leaving that floor feeling like we gave it everything we have. That's the big-picture goal, but … I feel like small victories are going to be something that is going to be important to us for the rest of the year."
After losing to Ohio State 87-49 on Nov. 14, the Bearcats won three straight and five of six. But since then they've won just two games since Dec. 15.
"We were thrown into the fire right away at Ohio State and got our tails handed to us," Elliott said. "But if there was such a thing as a good loss, that was it because it kind of woke us up and refocused us for the remainder of the year.
From that day on, we were trying to beat Ohio State in practice. We prepared for the day we'd meet a team like them again so we could be ready."
The Bearcats have had Jeanise Randolph for just six games this season because of a knee injury. Starting point guard Dayeesha Hollins missed two games with an ankle sprain. Alyesha Lovett has also missed time with a knee sprain.
Big East Waits
The conference continues to wait for its seven Catholic institutions to decide their future. But it is also planning for any contingency — including where future Big East tournaments will be played after this season.
Danielle Donehew, associate commissioner of the Big East for women's basketball, said the conference office is waiting just like everyone else for a resolution.
"Everything is on the table now, as far as timing and pending litigation of some of our members is concerned," Donehew said. "That requires to us to pay attention to what may happen, the timing of it all, in terms of making a decision for the future of our sport."
The Catholic 7 have retained a lawyer and consultant to help it decide their options. There's a possibility the schools could secede and start play in 2013-14, either in a newly named league or one that bears the conference name.
A conference source said Thursday that is what the Big East is expecting.
"We have taken the approach that we will work with the information we're given and think outside the box by preparing for any scenario that might happen," Donehew said. We've developed a number of contingency plans and strategies which has provided us solid exercises for preparedness."
With SMU, Temple, Central Florida, Houston and Memphis scheduled to join UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida as basketball schools, the Big East could have as many as 17 teams or as few as eight next season, depending on the Catholic 7 and Louisville and Notre Dame, which have not officially announced when they will join the ACC.
"We committed, as a conference last year [at the annual May meeting] to an 18-game conference schedule [in 2013-14] for a possible 18-team league. That would include everyone playing everyone once with one repeat opponent," Donehew said. "Our campuses are working on their non-conference schedules based on knowing they will play 18 [Big East games].
Donehew added that if the Catholic schools leave, as well as Notre Dame and Louisville, the conference will have to come up with a new format.
Additionally, if the number of schools drops below 10 the conference may have to reconsider the 18-game conference format.
The Big East tournament, which has been played at the XL Center since 2004, is in the final year of a two-year deal. No one knows what the future of the event will be."