March 18, 2011
Note: If you are not getting the Kentucky-Hampton game on ESPN2 HD, try checking the standard definition ESPN2 for the game
No. 17/16 Kentucky earned its eighth bid to the NCAA Tournament with a No. 4 seed in the
Spokane Regional. The Wildcats (24-8) will square off with 13th-seeded Hampton (25-6) in the first
round Saturday at University of New Mexico Arena in Albuquerque, N.M. The other first-round matchup
at New Mexico features No. 5 seed North Carolina (26-8) and No. 12 seed Fresno State.
The Wildcats once again have compiled an outstanding resume which includes their second
straight 20-win season, a school-record tying 11 wins in the always-tough Southeastern Conference and
a second-place finish in the league standings for the second consecutive year.
Senior All-America candidate and AP's SEC Player of the Year, Victoria Dunlap, has been the catalyst
all season for the Cats as one of the nation's most versatile players. The 6-foot-2 forward is listed in
the top half of eight SEC statistical categories, including leading the league in scoring (17.0), field-goal
percentage (.463) and steals per game (3.2). She also ranks fourth in rebounding (8.8 rpg), tied for fifth
in blocks (1.5 bpg) and sixth in free-throw shooting percentage (.706). She is the only player in the SEC
to rank in the top five in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals.
Also averaging in double digits for the Wildcats this season is sophomore A'dia Mathies. Dubbed the
"silent assassin" by her teammates, the quiet-spoken guard ranks second on the team in scoring with 13.0
points per game. She has also dished out a team-high 85 assists in her role as point guard.
"We are excited to know where we are going now, and to have an opponent to prepare for. We will work hard on ourselves, and on Kentucky. I still think (our up-tempo style) will be key in the tournament. We are going to play as close to our identity as we can. We are going to play up-tempo. It's a lot of fun now that we are about to start the tournament. I am just so proud of this team for returning to the NCAA tournament. I am looking forward to getting ready for it, and I am looking forward to going to Albuquerque."
On if he has been to Albuquerque, New Mexico before...
"I have not. I have been to New Mexico though and have always wanted to go to Albuquerque. I hear it's beautiful in Albuquerque this time of year. It will be good for our players."
On what he told his team about the draw...
"As far as the NCAA considers you, you're one of the top 16 teams in the country. That's a tremendous accomplishment for this particular team. As it relates to our program, it's great to go back-to-back for the first time in a long time, but I'm more excited for this team because this team had to overcome so much. We've had so many obstacles we've had to clear and so many times of adversity where we've had to bounce back, and they've done that every time. To land inside the top 16 is a tremendous accomplishment for this particular group of players."
On if he is happy with his team's seeding...
"Sure. Listen, we want to be in this tournament every year and we start out with the goal of being in the tournament especially with where we are with so many young players. We are still developing our program, so we are very pleased."
On if he has connections to Hampton...
"I don't. I go to Hampton every year for an AAU tournament. Actually, Jenna's brother does live over there in that area. I have connections everywhere. I spoke too soon."
On what it will take to win...
"If our players will play hard and do what they're capable of, I really think our team is capable in tournament play. It's (UK's style) tough to prepare for, especially if you can get through one game and you have a team that has one day to prepare for you. It's a good style of play for a tournament. It's very hard to play and very hard to get yourself where you can legitimately play pressure basketball defensively."
On the week off benefiting his team...
"A'dia (Mathies) is feeling better. She's not healthy yet. We will have to wait and see where she is on Saturday. You know, backs are a little bit tricky. I will tell you this, I have so much confidence in (Athletic Trainer) Courtney Jones, and if anybody can get her better Courtney can do it. She is moving around a lot better and has been working in our hydro-works pool. She has been active, just not out on the practice floor yet. The week off really benefited us. Victoria (Dunlap) looks very refreshed and very energized, so we will need that as we head to the tournament."