Posts from Monday, March 2
Practice Report: men’s basketball
Posted at 6:31 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
They’re not talking about it, but hope remains alive.
In the division that nobody seems to be able to close out, four teams – Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida – still have a shot to win the Southeastern Conference East Division.
UK has an outside shot at the East crown – the list of scenarios would take up the majority of this page – but the possibility still remains there.
But that’s not the focus right now for the UK men’s basketball team. During a two-hour practice session at the Joe Craft Center on Monday, the Wildcats were worried about correcting mistakes that UK Coach Billy Gillispie has said shouldn’t be happening this late in the season.
One of the biggest areas of concern was closing out games. Gillispie said UK played some of its best defense during the first 10 minutes of the second half behind “a great deal of pride” and pressuring the basketball, but cited a lack of maturity as to how LSU scored at will in the final 10 minutes.
Gillispie said you can’t just suddenly turn the defense on, but you can certainly turn it off.
“Believe me, you can turn it off with the wrong mindset and the wrong approach,” Gillispie said. “When you get a 10-point lead at home, if you’re tough enough defensively and if you play hard, play smart, and play together, those are 18-point wins.”
Three of the game-changing plays came in the closing minutes of the game on defensive mishaps. The first came on an offensive put-back by Marcus Thornton. Seconds later, Thornton found a wide-open Bo Spencer in the corner for a 3-pointer. The final dagger came on a botched switch when Tasmin Mitchell was left by himself for the game-winning 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds left.
Following practice on Monday, Gillispie said the first two mistakes were caused by players missing their assignments. The game-winning shot came from a lack of communication.
Gillispie addressed the mistakes in practice Monday.
“(On the final play) they slipped the screen a little bit, but we should have still been covering it if we communicate better like we ask them to on a daily basis,” he said.
Gillispie reiterated that those mistakes have come from a lack of maturity. He said UK’s development will be tested again Wednesday against Georgia, a team UK beat by 23 points more than a month ago on the road.
“We have to expect the best,” Gillispie said. “We’re not world-beaters ourselves so we better be ready. That’s what’s scary about this particular team that we have. It’s like having a 10-point lead at home and not getting a victory out of it. You have to kind of be worried about the kind of approach and the kind of maturity that it takes to finish out those games but also beat a team that you beat pretty good on the road the first time.
“It’ll be interesting to see if we’re going to take a step in the right direction in maturity.”
Get to Know the Wildcats debuts Wednesday
Posted at 4:08 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Wildcat fans, we've got a really cool weekly feature that will kick off Wednesday that I wanted to point you to. The University of Kentucky athletic department and Ukathletics.com is launching “Get to Know the Wildcats,” a video feature where athletes will learn skills from other sports.
The features, which will have athletes from all 22 varsity sports, are definitely must-see web-TV. I've had a chance to view four episodes, and let me tell you that they are extremely funny and unique.
The idea of some of UK's premier athletes learning a skill from anther sports is a pretty cool idea, but the best part is that you get the see the personalities of each of the athletes up close.
If you don't believe me, check out a preview of what is to come.
The episodes will air each Wednesday starting March 4. In the debut episode, Tim Masthay (football) will teach Kate Hughes (soccer) and Brandon Austin (track and field) how to punt.
Posted at 2:45 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Mondays with Mitch will not be posted this week as Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart is out of the office today. Mondays with Mitch, which runs every other week, will be moved back to next Monday, when we'll talk about the upcoming men's Southeastern Conference Tournament, the softball team's hot start, the baseball team and much more.
Bell is SEC Freshman of the Week
Posted at 12:57 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Kentucky freshman pitcher Chanda Bell was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week for her performances last week.
Bell, a right-hander from Indianaoplis, Ind., went 3-0 at the Hatter Classic in Deland, Fla., over the weekend. She gave up just one unearned run and five hits in 14 innings of works, striking out 18 in the process.
Bell has been one of the main stalwarts behind UK's early season success so far. She leads the team in wins with six while surrendering just one loss.
Keep an eye out for a feature on her at Cat Scratches later on in the week.
SEC Coaches Teleconference
Posted at 12:29 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Short and sweet today. That's about all I can say about the Southeastern Conference Coaches Teleconference. I'm not sure what happened, but Gillispie was only on the teleconference for two questions. Nonetheless, here is what he and Georgia interim Coach Pete Hermann had to say: