UK Hoops Opens 36th Season Against Boston

Nov. 12, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women's basketball team opens "Year Three" of the Matthew Mitchell era and its 36th season of varsity women's basketball when it plays host to first-time opponent Boston University Friday, Nov. 13 in Memorial Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for an unusual 11 a.m. EST start as it will mark the nation's first Division I women's basketball game of the 2009-10 season. The game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with Neil Price.

Fans are encouraged to park in Parking Structure 5 located next to Kennedy's Bookstore on Limestone Avenue. Parking within Parking Structure 5 will be available free of charge. When you enter Parking Structure #5, you will receive a white voucher. Upon arrival at Memorial Coliseum, please exchange your white voucher with a pink payment voucher at the Fan Assistance Booth in the Euclid Lobby or see a member of the event staff. Insert the pink payment voucher to exit Parking Structure #5.

There also will be a shuttle from Parking Structure #5 to Memorial Coliseum, which will begin at 10 a.m. To access the shuttle, walk across/above Limestone, via the skybridge (accessible on Floor 3 of the parking structure). Shuttle picks up at the end of the sidewalk on Administration Drive.

Game Day parking will NOT be available in the E lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum and the R lot (residential), directly north of the Joe Craft Center is not available for event parking. Vehicles will be subject to ticket/tow.

“We are fired up to play because it's our first game and it's the first women's game in the nation,” Mitchell said. “The players have worked extremely hard getting ready for this opportunity. Boston University had a fantastic year last year. They lost some of their top players but anytime you're playing a program that has had success you're getting prepared for a team that is confident and prepared to come out and beat you. So we're going into this game with a lot of respect for Boston University and were going to have to play well to get a win against them.”

The Wildcats are coming off a 107-57 win over Bellarmine in their only exhibition game of the season. Junior All-Southeastern Conference forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) looked impressive as she posted a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds, both game highs. She also added a game-best four steals and three blocks to lead four Wildcats in double figures. Freshman A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) and sophomore transfer Rebecca Gray (Georgetown, Ky.) combined for 18 points apiece while senior Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) charted 15.

Boston, under the direction of sixth-year head coach Kelly Greenburg, was picked to finish fourth in the America East Conference by the league's coaches. The Terriers are coming off the program's best season which included an undefeated conference regular season and its first appearance in the postseason WNIT. The Terries finished 25-8 overall and a perfect 16-0 in AEC play.

Senior forward Aly Hinton is the team's top returner in points (8.0 ppg), rebounds (4.9 rpg), assists (1.0 apg) and steals (18). Five freshmen join the Terriers in 2009-10.

This is the first meeting between Kentucky and Boston in school history. In fact, UK has met only one team (Maine) from BU's America East Conference.

Five returning veterans will join six highly touted newcomers as Mitchell looks to lead his Wildcats to a school-record sixth consecutive postseason tournament.

With only two seniors in Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Lydia Watkins (Hopkinsville, Ky.), the Cats will look to their three juniors for additional leadership. Heading that list is Dunlap. The 6-1 forward led the Wildcats in nearly every statistical category last season and has started in all 65 games of her career. Point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.), who dished out a team-high 114 assists in 2008-09, is back to direct the UK offense and guard Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) looks to again be a threat from three-point range after nailing a team-best 48 three-pointers last season.

Along with three impressive freshmen in Mathies, Anna Cole (Mondovi, Wis.) and Brittany Henderson (Altadena, Calif.), three transfers also will join the Wildcats' arsenal. Gray is eligible after transferring from North Carolina while Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.), the nation's sixth-ranked three-point shooter in 2007-08, returns to the court after one year at Akron. Crystal Riley (Memphis, Tenn.), a transfer after one semester at LSU, will be available for action following the 2009 fall semester.

UK is 27-8 all-time in season openers and 31-4 all-time in home openers. The Cats have won 10 of their last 11 season openers, dating back to the 1998-99 season.

Single-game general admission tickets are available for $5 adults/$2 senior citizens and children 6-18. Ages five and under are admitted free. UK students, faculty and staff also are admitted free with valid identification based on availability. For ticket information, log on to or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).

UK Hoops Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

On signing day …

“Yesterday was a culmination of a tremendous amount of work by a number of different people. We signed five really good players and the amount of work it took to get it done was no small feat. It starts at the very top of our University with Dr. (Lee) Todd. He'll meet with the recruits but he creates an atmosphere on campus that is very important to sign these players. Also, Mitch Barnhart meets with our recruits and we have a great situation here with our facilities and the people that are in place. Our assistant coaches work really hard and support staff. It's not just one person or a handful of people, it was really a team effort and I just want to thank everyone involved in it.”

On the upcoming class …

“It's a class I'm particularly excited about not only because of the quality of basketball talent but also the character of the players that we signed. We just have tremendous group of women.”

On Sarah Beth Barnette …

“It's always great to have someone decide to come to Kentucky but it's even more special when they come from Lexington. She's a player that does things we highly value in this program. She has great size, great height, good athleticism and rebounds the ball tremendously. She plays with a lot of toughness and really tough defense. She has an outstanding ability to shoot the three-point shot which in our offense creates a lot of opportunities because she can really space the floor out playing the power forward position. I have not been around many players that are as excited to sign with Kentucky than Sarah Beth. That's what we want to get, people that are interested and excited about putting on our jersey.”

On Maegan Conwright …

“She is one of the most outstanding perimeter defenders in the class of 2010. I think that's important in the Southeastern Conference to have the confidence to shut down the opponents' best perimeter player. She has the ability to do that and is explosive on offense. She is a very good athlete who can make threes, can get to the basket, can play either one of the wing positions and can play the one. It helps us to be more versatile.”

On Kastine Evans …

“She's from Connecticut and is another versatile wing player. Her character impressed me when I met with her at her home. I got the chance not to see her, not play basketball, but volleyball and to see how great of leader she was on the volleyball floor, it brought it home to what we had seen on the basketball court. She's a great leader, has the ability to make threes, push the ball in transition and is another athletic wing player. She is a very good player. Her parents were very impressed when they came and visited. I think it speaks to the people and facilities we have here that her parents are comfortable letting their daughter go so far away to play basketball at Kentucky.”

On LaQuinta Jefferson …

“She's a big guard, sort of like Amani Franklin, who can swing from a guard to a small or power forward. Offensively, she scored 40 points in a big upset in the state tournament in Tennessee last year as a junior and you could just see the talent she had. You saw her ability to defend and rebound and many people think she's one of the best talents in the class of 2010.”

On Jennifer O'Neill …

“She's from the Bronx, N.Y., and you may have heard point guards that come from New York City have a little attitude about them, a swagger and a confidence they play with. Somehow that city breathes that into a player. Jennifer is no exception. She is one of the best playmakers I have ever seen and definitely one of the best playmakers in this class. She can make plays for her teammates and for herself. She is a good three-point shooter but her leadership is what attracted me to her as soon as I watched her play. She's of the best point guards in the class and overall players in the class. She just improves the overall talent of our class.”

On how Sarah Beth committed as a sophomore and how's she come along since then…

“She's a player I watched a lot in high school and on the club circuit. She's just very consistent. She's going to be one of the toughest players on the court no matter what or where she's playing. That's something that attracts me as a coach when I can see that toughness and tenacity. Anyone that's watched her play knows she can shoot the basketball and so we're trying to be a team that's versatile and I think she's a player that can do that. The character she has, I can't emphasize that too much.”

On what the key selling point is on getting recruits to come to Kentucky …

“I think a lot of it starts with our staff. What has to happen is we get them interested enough to get them to come to campus. It starts with staff getting on the phone and talking to players, building relationships with players and the assistants just being tenacious and staying after that. We just have quality people in the office right now. I think Kyra Elzy, in my opinion, is the best I've ever been around at coordinating things and keeping people on task and making sure things get done. Then, she connects with kids over the phone. It's a talent you have to be able to do because of the limited meetings in person we're allowed to have. It's a lot of hard work and a tremendous amount of detail that goes into it. If there's one thing that allowed us to get this class it was the interest level players had right of the bat as juniors.”

Game vs. Boston University

On what to expect from Boston University …

“We are fired up to play because it's our first game and it's the first women's game in the nation. The players have worked extremely hard getting ready for this opportunity and we go into the game needing to improve. Boston University had a fantastic year last year. They lost some of their top players but anytime you're playing a program that has had success you're getting prepared for a team that is confident and prepared to come out and beat you. So, we're going into this game with a lot of respect for Boston University and were going to have to play well to get a win against them.”

On how all the players have been able to mesh so well, especially in the exhibition game …

“We scored a lot of points in transition and we were athletically superior and we took advantage of that. In some instances we won't be athletically superior but when we are we need to take advantage and score in transition. I think the more you practice and the more you rehearse the better you'll be.”

On why the start time of the game is at 11 a.m. …

“We have a unique opportunity tomorrow at a special time for not only to start out season but because Coach Calipari has his first game. ESPN was kind enough to come televise that and anytime any of our programs can get national exposure like that we need to take advantage of it. We had thought about doing something in the afternoon or that game being a later tip but when that time came out at 6:30 p.m., we thought it was best to have our game in the morning. Some schools are going to take the day off and come in and some businesses are going to take advantage of it and have an extended lunch to come watch it. It just made sense with the situation we had. Everyone I've talked to said they're coming to the game.”