No. 15/16 Kentucky begins its 33rd season of varsity basketball, the fourth for head coach Mickie DeMoss, when it plays host to the fifth annual Women?s Sports Foundation Tournament this weekend. Indiana, Wake Forest, and Washington State round out the talented field.
Indiana and Wake Forest begin tournament action Friday at 6 p.m. EST followed by Kentucky and Washington State at 8 p.m. EST. UK?s game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with Neil Price. Sunday game times are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. EST. UK will play the 1 p.m. game and it will be televised on the Big Blue Sports Network (television) and FSN South.
?We?re excited to host the Women?s Sports Foundation Tournament.? DeMoss said. ?We jumped at the chance to be able to bring in three schools from reputable conferences, with Washington State out of the Pac-10, Indiana from the Big 10, and Wake Forest from the ACC. I think it will give our fans an overall view of women?s basketball across the country. It will be a very exciting and competitive tournament to watch.?
UK went undefeated in its two preseason tune-ups, defeating Northern Kentucky (77-60) and Shawnee State (99-42) in convincing fashion.
?In both games, our running was consistent,? DeMoss said. ?I really felt we got up and down the floor really well. We have gotten into some good habits as far as running the floor hard, and I think that will pay off for us in terms of our depth. We?re going to be able to wear some people down the last 10 minutes of a ballgame.?
This is the first meeting between Kentucky and Washington State and just the ninth meeting all-time vs. a team from the Pac-10 conference. UK is 2-6 in those games.
Washington State is coming off the most wins since the 1998-99 season with an 8-20 mark last season and a 2-16 record in the Pacific 10. The Cougars return eight letter winners from last year's squad, including three starters, and feature a young team with six newcomers.
?Washington State is playing some young kids,? DeMoss said. ?They?re a real scrappy team.
Pac-10 teams are usually physical. They run a lot of ball screens, and handoffs, things that we have to get down and defend. I?m sure they are going to come in here and play very physical.?
The Wildcats are looking for their 10th consecutive win in a home opener dating back to the 1997-98 campaign. Kentucky is 25-7 all-time in season openers and 29-3 all-time in home openers. Kentucky has won its last eight season openers dating back to the 1998-99 season.
Tickets for the WSF Tournament are $10 for adults and $4 for children ages 6-18. Five and under are admitted free. Single-game general admission tickets will allow spectators to watch both games of that day's session.
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 for all games being played at Memorial Coliseum. 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.
PRESS CONFERNCE QUOTES - NOV. 9
Head Coach Mickie DeMoss
On this year?s ?
?We?re really excited about the four players we signed. I felt like our needs were met. We signed two front-line players in Catina Bett from Alabama, being our biggest player at 6-foot-5 and Victoria Dunlap, a 6-foot-1 power forward who is also a track athlete. Both of them are very talented and we feel very fortunate to sign them to Kentucky. Two star guards in Amber Smith, out of Winter Haven, Fla. ? ?Moe? Gamble?s high school. She?s about 5-foot-6, a real quick point guard, which will be a good combination with Carly [Ormerod]. Then we signed Carly Morrow, a shooting guard from Chattanooga Prep. She shoots the three extremely well, and I think we were looking for a three-point shooter since [Jenny] Pfeiffer will not be back next year, so we need to replace that three-point shooting.?
On playing host to the Women?s Sports Foundation Tournament this weekend?
?We?re glad to be opening up our season. I think the players are ready to get started with the season. We?re excited to host the Women?s Sports Foundation Tournament. This is the fifth year that they have had the tournament. We were asked a couple of years ago if we would be interested in hosting, particularly because of our crowd support. We jumped at the chance to be able to bring in three schools from reputable conferences, with Washington State out of the Pac-10, Indiana from the Big 10, and Wake Forest from the ACC. I think it will give our fans an overall view of women?s basketball across the country. I think it will be a very exciting and competitive tournament to watch.?
On having a difficult schedule to open up the season?
?I think it will definitely test us early. When you have a veteran team, you need that. I think you have to be strategic with your scheduling. When you have a young team, you?re more concerned about confidence, and getting players the needed minutes. With more of a veteran team, we were looking to get tested early. I think this tournament definitely will test us. It will test us on the floor with executing, our strategy, and our endurance.?
On how the team has improved its rebounding and defense over the preseason?
?I have seen improvement. With a veteran team, you have players that have been with you two or three years, and they know what you expect. I think, starting with the preseason, I focused more on offensive execution because I?m thinking that these veterans know how serious I am about rebounding and defense. If you have an all senior team, you?re going to slip if you don?t emphasize it and work on it daily in practice. Last week, we picked the intensity back up with the defense and the board play. To have a chance to win, you have to bring those two things every night, particularly when you go on the road. I think this weekend will be a good test for us to see where we are in both of those areas.?
On what pleased her during the exhibition season?
?In both games, our running game was consistent. I really felt we got up and down the floor really well. We?re more committed to the running game this year. I?ve made more of a commitment to it as a head coach. We have gotten into some good habits as far as running the floor hard, and I think that will pay off for us in terms of our depth. We?re going to be able to wear some people down the last 10 minutes of a ballgame.?
On sophomore point guard Carly Ormerod being more comfortable in her second season?
?I think last year she was more comfortable with slowing the ball up, and settling things down. I think now she?s more comfortable in the running game. She?s more comfortable throwing that long pass. She?s the one that has to make the running game go if she?s in the game by pushing the ball.?
On playing Washington State on Friday?
?They?re playing some young kids. They lost three of their starters from last year. Our tapes are based on last year?s team. We feel like we still have some question marks on personnel because they?ve played one exhibition game. They?re a real scrappy team. Pac-10 teams are usually physical. They run a lot of ball screens, and handoffs, things that we have to get down and defend. I?m sure they are going to come in here and play very physical. They play a combination of man and zone, so we?re going to have to be ready for both.?
#4 Sarah Elliott, C
On starting the regular season Friday?
?I can?t tell you how excited we are. We had our exhibition games - those were like a little test, and now it?s time for the real thing. The regular season starts tomorrow.?
On starting the season with a difficult schedule?
?We?re going in head first this time. We?re playing big conferences and big teams. We?re ready. It lets you know where you are early. You don?t want to wait later on to figure it out. If you figure it out now, you can work on things, so later you?re ready.?
On if being a veteran team will help them handle the early-season schedule?
?I think it will help us. I think because we are older, a lot more experienced, and we work really hard. We?re definitely ready. We definitely know what we want, and we?re not going to let up.?
#20 Chante? Bowman, G/F
On the team running more offensively this year?
?In practice, we?ve been doing running drills. We?ve been committed to running. It?s hard, but we like it. The conditioning is hard, but running comes natural because you do it all the time in practice. I think we?ll do a lot more running this year.?
On the team working on defense and rebounding?
?It?s challenging to work on, but you?ve got to do it. Those are the little things that you have to do to be a successful team.?
On the team?s mindset this year?
?We have to fight still to maintain our record, and to maintain our reputation. We don?t want to get a big head and be complacent or settle for our No. 15 ranking. We also don?t want to settle for getting one game into the NCAA Tournament; we want to get further.