What happened to Hailey Van Lith? Exploring potential reasons behind HC Kim Mulkey’s decision to bench LSU star at start of second half

Hailey Van Lith has been struggling for the LSU TigersHailey Van Lith has been struggling for the LSU Tigers

Haley Van Lith, who spent her first three seasons with the Louisville Cardinals, has been a significant piece to the LSU Tigers as they chase back-to-back national championships. However, she was on the bench getting emotional and not on the floor to begin the second half of their second-round game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Sunday.

Van Lith eventually played 12 minutes of the second half as LSU won 83-56. She was 0-for-2 with no points and two assists in 15 minutes of the first half and then had all four of her points in 12 minutes in the second half.

What happened to get to this point? It was only a month ago when LSU coach Kim Mulkey publicly defended her after a win at Tennessee:

“Hailey’s taken a lot of criticism, and it needs to stop. It needs to stop. She’s learned a new position, she’s on one of the top teams in the country and the defending national champions. She’s having to play the point guard and today she moved to the off-guard.” h/t Daily Advertiser

What has happened to Hailey Van Lith to get benched?

Hailey Van Lith, despite coming to LSU as a star, has seen her numbers and shooting decrease in 30 games as the Adidas spokesperson has been trying to get going.

Van Lith is shooting 39.3% from the floor, 35.8% from beyond the arc and 82.4% from the charity stripe while averaging 12.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game. She did not play well against Middle Tennessee she finished with four points, one rebound, three assists and a steal while going 1 of 5 in 27 minutes.

LSU won 83-56 after trailing 36-32 at halftime at home.

Another potential scenario is that LSU coach Kim Mulkey is trying to take the heat off of herself. With a Washington Post story focusing on Mulkey expected to come out in the coming days, she may be looking for perfection.

Hailey Van Lith has shown the ability to dominate, but getting into a rhythm with her new program this year has been a difficult adjustment period for her.

 

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