Wildcats Try for Seven Straight Wins Tuesday vs. Miami
Nov. 30, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky women's basketball team looks to chart its seventh straight victory when it plays host to Miami (Ohio) Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. EST in Memorial Coliseum. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.
General admission tickets for the game are available for just $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. Season tickets cost just $45 for all 17 home games.
"We have a very tough test ahead of us tomorrow night against Miami (Ohio)," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "They have a record that is not very indicative of how good they are. I have watched them on film and I was very impressed with them. They can score a lot of points. They have played some really tough competition and they have some players that jump out when you watch them play."
UK, which is having one of its most successful starts in school history, ended November with an impressive 6-0 record, breaking the school record for most wins in the month.
The Wildcats are coming off victories over UC Santa Barbara and McNeese State last week and have won 12 of their last 13 contests against non-conference opponents.
Junior Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tennn.) continues to dominate in almost every statistical category, leading UK in scoring (19.5), rebounding (10.2), blocks (2.0), and steals (2.5). With 75 career blocks, she moves up to No. 8 on UK's career list. Following Dunlap in the scoring column is UK's diaper dandy, A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.). The freshman ranks second on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game and has netted double figures in five of six games this season.
Miami, members of the Mid-American Conference, looks to snap a four-game losing skid after falling in both of its games in the Pitt Thanksgiving Tournament last week. The RedHawks (1-4) fell by five to Marshall in the opening round (83-76) and lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Appalachian State a day later (79-76).
Freshman guard Courtney Osborn leads the RedHawks in scoring with 19.4 points per game. As the point guard, she also is dishing out a team-high 4.0 assists per game. Ashleigh Brown and Rachael Hencke follow with 10.6 and 10.0 ppg, respectively. MU is coached by Maria Fantanarosa, who enters her 13th season at Miami.
"Courtney Osborn is one of the best freshmen I have seen in a while," Mitchell said. "She is an explosive scorer with an average of almost 20 points per game. Their overall team size is extremely impressive and of great concern to me. We have a tough challenge ahead of us tomorrow night and we will practice hard today and do everything we can to prepare to win."
Tuesday will mark the 16th matchup between Kentucky and Miami. UK leads the all-time series 13-2, including an unblemished 7-0 mark in Lexington. This is the first meeting between the squads in Lexington since 2002.
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. A shuttle bus service also will be provided and begins one hour prior to game time until one hour after the game. Additional game day parking is available in the E lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum including the Martin Luther King Parking Lot and the Student Center Parking Lot.
For ticket information, log on to ukathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).
Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
"We have a very tough test ahead of us tomorrow night against Miami (Ohio). They have a record that is not very indicative of how good they are. I have watched them on film and I was very impressed with them. They can score a lot of points. They have played some really tough competition. They have some players that jump out when you watch them play. Courtney Osborn is one of the best freshmen I have seen in a while. She is an explosive scorer with an average of almost 20 points per game. Their overall team size is extremely impressive and of great concern to me. We have a tough challenge ahead of us tomorrow night and we will practice hard today and do everything we can to prepare to win."
On his team's passion and hunger...
"They have done well in practice with very few exceptions. I have been happy with the way they have come out every day and competed in practice. That is something as coaches we help them understand that it is our key to success, being a hard working team. Any success we have this year will because they remain hungry and committed. It is important for them to practice well every day and to have the right attitude. Attitude is very important."
On being concerned even though Miami's record isn't strong...
"That is something the coaching staff has to do a good job of presenting to (our players)what a good team Miami really is without getting caught up on the record. We show them what Miami is capable of doing through film and on the practice court. That is a big responsibility of the coaches. The players have to prepare their attitudes, not so much with the opponent in mind, but to focus on what they need to do to win. As a coach we try to guard against these things."
On his team's attitude...
"It is a good attitude that our team has. They have been willing to work. We try to explain to them at the end of last season, moving forward what would be necessary to be successful. Starting last spring they began to embrace that. As we moved through summer and then into fall practice the team has tried to do the things we ask of them. That sounds simple but that has been a difficult transition for us in the past. We have had to work hard. We have players that have been in the program now for a while so they understand better what we want from them. That has helped a lot along with players who are willing to help. Victoria Dunlap and Amber Smith are leaders on our team and it becomes a cumulative effect of a lot of hard work that has led us to this point. I give the players a lot of credit for having such a good attitude."
On Lydia Watkins...
"She is a big key to us becoming the best we can become. She is an experienced senior with talent. When players have the game taken away from them they begin to understand how precious the opportunity is and they take advantage of it. I think she has battled through a lot here and she has done a great job up to this point. She is definitely someone we need playing well for us to be at our best."
On an increase in steals this season...
"It is a combination of a few things. For one, the style is different. Last year we started out being a more contained team because of our personnel and our depth. We had several players having to play almost the whole game so we had to have a style where they could be productive. The depth (this season) is also much greater. That depth has become more athletic. Therefore it lends itself to being able to play the kind of style that is more aggressive. We are in passing lanes and we pressure the ball much stronger. When you get into passing lanes it increases your chances of getting steals. That is an important part of the defense now. Being able to play the style is predicated on having the depth that allows you to play that style, so it's certainly a combination."
On Miami's veteran coaching staff...
"They have a really good program at Miami. Since I've been at Kentucky, in this region you begin to understand who the respected programs are even if they are not in your league. Miami is one of those teams you know is going to be well coached and win a lot of games. We have had some tough battles with them throughout the years. We know we are going to play a team that is going to execute very well offensively. That is a credit to their coaching staff and their players being willing to execute the game plan. They are really big and that is of concern to us. It is always a good game for us regionally to play them because we know we are going to get a good game."
On Miami's overall size...
"Their guards are not small. Their overall team size is impressive. We on the other hand are not overall very big. That is the part that concerns me. Their big players can come out and play a screen and their guards can post up under the basket. They have some non-traditional things they are able to do. They are capable of exploiting some size matches. They are that smart. Their wings are bigger than what we have played the last few games. On the perimeter they have really good size."
On his team's rebounding...
"The biggest concern is that we are not offensively rebounding at the level we should be by now. We have had some good days but it hasn't been consistent. Rebounding is a big concern for me as we go forward especially in SEC play. As we start playing bigger opponents inside we have to improve our rebounding. What we have to do between now and conference play is work hard every day to develop a style that helps us overcome any deficiencies in size. We may not be a dominating rebounding team like we were when we had inside presence. We have to find a way where rebounding is not a glaring weakness in our game."
On his team's defense...
"I think for us as we got out of our first scrimmage we had been working a lot on our offense. When we played another team I realized we were behind on defense. I knew we could not succeed if we did not improve in that area. We have been working really hard on defensive fundamentals. I am starting to see those take route. We did a 21-day plan to form a habit. We are getting close to that in our defense and then we will have to maintain that. Our offense can also make some improvements. We are not shooting three pointers nearly as well as we will be down the road. That will work itself out in the future. I do not think we are moving as well on offense without the ball as we are capable of doing. I am glad we have been able to play as well offensively as we have been but there is still plenty of room for improvement. I have seen continuous improvement in our defensive fundamentals throughout this process. I think we are certainly benefiting."