UK Hoops Makes Its School-Record Fourth Straight NCAA Tournament Appearance
March 18, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 7/7 University of Kentucky women's basketball team earned its school-record fourth straight bid to the NCAA Tournament, and 10th overall, with a No. 2 seed in the Bridgeport Regional. The Wildcats' No. 2 seed ties its highest ever in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats (27-5) will face 15-seeded Navy in the first round Sunday, March 24 at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, N.Y. The game will air live on ESPNU at 12:05 p.m. ET.
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The No. 2 seed is the third in school history for the Wildcats, and ties their highest seed ever in the tournament. Kentucky was also a two seed in 1982 and 2012. The other first-round matchup in Queens, N.Y., features No. 7 seed Dayton (27-2) and No. 10 seed St. John's (18-12).
"We're excited to be in the tournament again, and to get a two seed for the second year in a row shows you that the team has accomplished a lot over the season and they are considered one of the top eight teams in the country and there's a bunch of teams playing," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It's really, really good to be back in the tournament and we are excited to get started and see what we can do with the draw we received."
UK is 11-9 all-time in the Big Dance, including 7-3 under Mitchell. The best finishes for UK came in 2012, 2010 and 1982 when the Wildcats fell one win shy of the Final Four. Last season UK advanced to the Elite Eight with wins over McNeese State, Green Bay and Gonzaga. The Cats fell to top-seeded Connecticut in the NCAA Regional finals.
Navy (21-11), located in Annapolis, Md., and coached by Stefanie Pemper, claimed the 2013 Patriot League Tournament Championship with a 72-53 win over Holy Cross. It marked the Midshipmen's third straight tournament title. Navy, co-champions of the regular season, has won three consecutive games leading into the NCAA Tournament. It will be the Midshipmen's third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky has a connection with Navy as former Wildcat Jenerrie Everette Harris (2001-04) who is in her fourth season as an assistant coach. UK also has a connection with the host-town of Queens, N.Y., as two Wildcats are native New Yorkers. Redshirt-sophomore point guard Jennifer O'Neill hails from the Bronx, N.Y., while sophomore forward Jelleah Sidney is from Queens Village, N.Y.
This will mark the first meeting vs. Navy in school history. However, UK is 3-0 all-time against teams from the Patriot League. Kentucky is 1-0 vs. American, Holy Cross and Lafayette.
Kentucky was one of seven Southeastern Conference teams to be awarded a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Monday evening. Texas A&M earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning the conference tournament, and is a No. 3 seed in the Norfolk Regional. Tennessee (two seed), Georgia, South Carolina (four seeds), LSU (six seed) and Vanderbilt (eight seed) also made the field.
Earning No. 1 seeds are Baylor (32-1); Notre Dame (31-1); Connecticut (29-4) and Stanford (31-2). Baylor, Notre Dame and Stanford each won its respective conference regular season and tournament titles in the Big 12, Big East and Pac-12 Conferences, respectively, while Connecticut was an at-large selection from the Big East. The Final Four will be played April 7 and 9 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans.
The Queens, N.Y., pod is hosted by St. John's and will be played at Carnesecca Arena. Session booklets, which include all three games, are $25 for adults and $15 for students (must be purchased at ticket window). Single session tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are available through St. John's ticket office at 1-800-GO-STORM or online at redstormsports.com. Everyone regardless of age requires a ticket for admission.
Quotes About Selection - March 18, 2013
Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
On earning a No. 2 seed ...
"We're excited to be in the tournament again, and to get a two seed for the second year in a row shows you that the team has accomplished a lot over the season and they are considered one of the top eight teams in the country and there's a bunch of teams playing. It's really, really good to be back in the tournament and we are excited to get started and see what we can do with the draw we received."
On the term 40 minutes being developed after the Connecticut game last year and the opportunity to possibly have a rematch with the Huskies ...
"Boy, it would be great to play them again because that would mean we would be in the final eight. A lot of basketball between us and that matchup but we would certainly be very excited to play in the Elite Eight and it's going to be a tough road and there are real quality teams in our bracket but we have definitely learned a lot from that game last year and we felt like we have made some improvements this year because we were able to compete against an excellent program and UConn tests you in a lot of different ways so it's interesting."
On what he knows about Navy ...
"I don't know much about Navy except for one of our former players is an assistant coach there and really admire what Jenerrie Everette Harris has been able to do as she has been able to rise through the profession and clearly they have done a great job to be in the tournament and we will be prepared to investigate everything we can about them and find out what we face in this first game."
On being excited about going to Queens, N.Y. ...
"We were so excited about that possibility. As you work your way through the options you sort of felt like we were a two seed so you start looking at places where you could possibly go. When Queens looked like someplace we could go, clearly with Jennifer (O'Neill) and Jelleah (Sidney) that was the most exciting and attractive place for us outside of going to Columbus where our fans could travel and we just felt like that, just kind of hearing things that maybe Notre Dame was going down there, so besides Columbus where our fans could go that was really the most attractive place to us because of our kids getting to go back home and I think you saw them get very excited. We are very happy for them and it will be a really tough test with Dayton and St. John's if we are fortunate enough to beat Navy. It will be a real, real tough second round game."
#1, A'dia Mathies, Senior, G
On the team's NCAA Tournament draw...
"It's very exciting just to even be in the NCAA Tournament again. To get a seed like we did, a No. 2 seed, and be in a regional that we feel like we can definitely make it to the Final Four is very exciting and we are ready to get started."
On going to Queens where Jennifer O'Neill gets to go back home...
"Yeah, she is the most excited. She won't even fill out her bracket anymore. It's good because we know we are going to have a lot of supporters especially up in New York and with Kastine (Evans) and Bernisha (Pinkett) so it should be nice."
On the 40 minutes theme starting after losing to UConn last year and a chance for a rematch this year...
"I think it's definitely interesting. We watched film actually today and how it slipped away little by little but we know we are a different team this year and we feel like if we do things necessary that we should be doing then we should make it to the Final Four."
On how much this week has been about building confidence after the SEC Tournament ...
"Yeah, I think confidence is a big thing. We definitely feel like we should have won the SEC but we just didn't come out and we were very lethargic in the championship game and we know that's not acceptable. If we come out playing the way we should be playing we should win every game from here on out."
On if she will take this tournament any differently with it being her las t...
"I guess you could kind of say that. I definitely plan on being more aggressive, the most I can be. Everybody tells me over and over again when I'm aggressive and the team runs through me it flows better so I'm just going to do my best to do whatever I can for the team."
On what ways the team is more prepared this year to make a run ...
"I think it's more so just the talent. It's a lot with the help of DeNesha Stallworth coming and giving us a greater post presence that we didn't have last year. Everybody is still buying into their role and doing the right thing so I believe that once we get there it should be a different turnout."
#0, Jennifer O'Neill, Redshirt-sophomore, PG
On the excitement of going to Queens that she stopped filling out her bracket ...
"Yeah, I was done. I knew where we were going so I was fine."
Thoughts on the team's NCAA Tournament draw ...
"I'm just excited right now to have the opportunity to go home and see everybody, just for everybody to see us play. It's my hometown and a lot of my teammates have never been there so it's going to be a trip, it's going to be an amazing trip."
On if there will be an opportunity to show the team around in New York ...
"If we have a chance to do that I would love to but I don't really know if that's going to happen."
On if returning home will affect the way she plays ...
"Mentally, yes. Emotionally, yes. Physically, nothing changes. I don't get faster, my shot is not better or worse or anything like that so I just have to be ready to play regardless."
On her feelings when she saw Queens come up on the screen ...
"I was just so excited. I was like, 'I'm going home! I finally get to go home and we get to go to New York and a lot of people have never been there.' It's an amazing place and I'm just happy we get to play in my home state."
On what she is looking forward to showing the team in New York ...
"Just New York. The life of being a New Yorker is fast paced, the train system, everything."
On getting a No. 2 seed ...
"I think we have worked hard and over the summer everybody put in work and I think now we are seeing the results of it. Getting a two seed we are happy about that but at the end of the day our goal is to make it to the Final Four. Yeah, we have a two seed but that wasn't the goal, that wasn't what we really wanted to do but we are happy with it."