UK Hoops Closes Out 2008 Against IUPUI

Dec. 29, 2008

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – After an eight-day break for the Christmas holidays, the Kentucky women’s basketball team returns to Memorial Coliseum to close out 2008 with a matchup against IUPUI of the Summit League. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. EST and be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with Neil Price.

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 ukathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).

“We are glad to be back from our break,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Our players had a good break as they were able to go home and see their family and friends. I felt that was important for our team and now we have to come back and play a very good and dangerous IUPUI program. They have some talented players, a very good coach, and it’ll be a tough game for us but I’m excited about the opportunity to play them.”

The Wildcats (7-5) are riding a two-game winning streak after wins over Alabama A&M and UC Santa Barbara before the break. Senior center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) continued dominating both ends of the floor by tallying a career high-tying 17 points and 12 rebounds vs. the Bulldogs and 14 points and 10 boards against UC Santa Barbara. She currently leads the SEC in double-doubles with five, including recording four in a row. She is the first Wildcat to chart four or more consecutive double-doubles since Jocelyn Mills had four straight in 1991.

Junior guard Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) also had an impressive week after dropping 14 points vs. Alabama A&M and scoring all of her game-high 20 points in the first half vs. UCSB. She tied the school record for most three-pointers in a half with five against the Gauchos.

“Amani did a good job in the first half and we won the game in a convincing manner, that’s progress for our team,” Mitchell said. “She’s looked good in practice the last few days. I know an assistant coach talked to her about the need to remain aggressive because it’s not always about that game you’re playing. It’s about trying to get better as a player every day. She recognized that she probably needed to be more aggressive in the second half vs. UC Santa Barbara. I am so encouraged that she, over the course of the last 10 games, has been much more reliable and offensive-minded.”

The IUPUI Jaguars are 6-5 overall after a three-point loss (59-56) to Jacksonville in their last game on Dec. 20. Senior center Jernisha Cann leads three players in double-digit scoring, averaging 18.2 points per game. She also pulls down double-figure on the boards with 11.5 rpg. Julia Whitted and Nicole James follow in the scoring column with 12.4 and 10.5 ppg, respectively.

“Jernisha Cann, is a double-double machine,” Mitchell said. “She’s had 10-straight double-doubles and is a very good, tough player. I’m very concerned about her and then they have a big post presence in Julia Whitted. She takes up a lot of space in the lane and does a great job blocking shots and altering your offense. They’ve beaten some really good teams this year in an impressive fashion. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”

This is the third overall matchup between the teams. UK leads the series 2-0 with both games being played in Lexington. The last game was on Nov. 18, 2005 and the Cats took an 81-52 win over the Jaguars. UK is 5-1 all-time vs. teams from IUPUI’s Summit League.

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. The “R” lot north of Memorial Coliseum and the Joe Crafter center also will be open until Jan. 12. Due to the holiday break, Parking Structure 5 will be closed during women’s basketball games and there will there be no shuttle bus service.

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

  Opening statement…
“We are glad to be back from our break. Our players had a good break as they were able to go home and see their family and friends. I felt that was important for our team and now we have to come back and play a very good IUPUI team. They're a very dangerous team. They have some talented players, a very good coach, and it'll be a tough game for us but I'm excited about the opportunity to play them.”

On IUPUI…
“Their leading scorer, Jernisha Cann, is a double-double machine. She's had 10-straight double-doubles and averaging almost 19 points and 12 boards a game. She's a very good, tough player. I'm very concerned about her and then they have a very big post presence in Julia Whitted. She takes up a lot of space in the lane and does a great job blocking shots and altering your offense. Overall from a team perspective, they're a very strappy, very tough team that reflects the personality of their coach, Shann Hart. She is very good. She's a coach I have a lot of respect for. They've beaten some really good teams this year in an impressive fashion. It's going to be a tough game for us.”

On injuries…
“We're still evaluating Carly [Ormerod] right now and seeing what we're going to do with her. She's feeling good and it's a tricky situation to be honest. There's no clear cut path to take. Every game is important and we're just going to see what her availability will be for tomorrow night. Everybody else is looking pretty good and feeling good. I think the rest benefitted us tremendously because we have a lot of players playing a lot of minutes. Everybody has come back feeling good.”

On Carly Ormerod's situation…
“She has not been practicing. She had an injection in her foot earlier this month and as she walks around with no boot, she's pain free. It's just a tricky injury. It could stay that way the rest of the season. We're going to greatly limit her practice time. She's going to have almost all mental work in practice and we'll just try to make certain she's available for games. The good thing about that is she's a senior who has played in a ton of basketball games and has a high basketball IQ and she can probably handle that, whereas it might be tougher on a freshman or less experienced player. The goal is to use her in the most effective manner to win the most basketball games. We're just trying to balance what's best for the long term success of the team with the immediate need to win games right now.”

On turnovers vs. IUPUI…
“They do a good job at full-court pressure and some three-quarter-court defense so they're extending their defense and pressing you which puts you in situations that you have to make good decisions with the ball. They mix defenses on the half-court. They run a variety of defenses which makes it difficult on teams to get into a rhythm.”

On Amani Franklin scoring 20 points in the first half against UCSB and not scoring the second half…
“She did a good job in the first half and we won the game in a convincing manner, that's progress for our team. She's looked good in practice the last few days. I know an assistant coach talked to her about the need to remain aggressive because it's not always about that game you're playing. It's about trying to get better as a player every day. She recognized that she probably needed to be more aggressive in the second half vs. UC Santa Barbara. I am so encouraged that she, over the course of the last 10 games, has been much more reliable and offensive minded, so that's what we are going to take away from that.”

  On how he if he has figured out what motivates Amani's game…
“She's the kind of player that challenges you as a coach to try to figure out what exactly she is feeling about her game. That's definitely the challenge for me. I think Amani is a player that needs to have some confidence instilled in her and that takes a little more time as a coach than if you want to just scream and yell and say “look, go get it done!” I think it's a little more involved than that with her. I think you need to teach her more, motivate in a more positive manner with her. We talk to our players all the time about being honest and having discipline. That's where I as a coach have to have discipline and understand that she's motivated in a little different way than what I would like to motivate her. That's where I am with Amani and she has made tremendous strides. I'm feeling pretty good about where she is right now.”

On concerns heading into conference play…
“A big point of emphasis is how we handle the basketball. I think even in our wins we just turned the ball over far too many times. We didn't do a great job with that yesterday. We had a good practice, people played hard and tried really hard, but we didn't handle the ball the way I know we're going to have to against good competition. That's probably the biggest concern I have heading into conference play and hopefully we can take a step forward in that tomorrow. As we've talked about, IUPUI has the ability to create turnovers.”