Nov. 22, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 14/11 Kentucky women’s basketball continues its nine-game home stand with a matchup against first-time opponent Nebraska Omaha on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Game time in Memorial Coliseum is 4 p.m. ET.
“We are looking forward to another challenge tomorrow as we try to improve as a team and get better,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We need to come out with a lot of energy and continue to try to improve as a defensive team. I’m looking for, hopefully, some steps forward from our post players. That’s been a real big emphasis in practice. There’s a lot to work on this time of year and we have a good challenge ahead of us tomorrow. We’re looking forward to playing them.”
Kentucky went 3-0 last week, defeating Jacksonville State, 100-25, Northeastern, 81-47, and Southern Mississippi, 88-71. It is the third straight season UK has started 4-0. Last Tuesday, UK forced a program-record 48 turnovers against Jacksonville State, and held the Gamecocks to a program-tying low of 25 total points.
Junior guard A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) had a fantastic week, averaging 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 4.3 steals in Kentucky’s three games. Mathies scored the 1,000th point of her UK career vs. Southern Mississippi, becoming the 28th member of UK’s 1,000-point club and the fourth-fastest Wildcat to ever reach the storied mark (74 games).
Overall this season, Mathies leads five players in double-figure scoring with an average of 18.5 points per game. She also leads the team in steals with 14 and is tied for the lead in rebounding with 6.8 boards per game. Sophomore Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) follows Mathies in the scoring column with 13.0 ppg, while Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.), Azia Bishop (Toledo, Ohio) and Bria Goss (Indianapolis) add 10.5, 10.3 and 10.0 ppg, respectively.
As a team, Kentucky leads the SEC in seven different statistical categories: scoring offense (91.2), scoring margin (+40.5), rebounding offense (47.8), steals (18.0), turnover margin (+18.2), offensive rebounds (24.8) and offensive rebound percentage (.516).
Mitchell is just one victory shy of moving into a tie for third all-time at Kentucky in wins, while the Wildcats look to continue their 24-game home winning streak vs. non-conference opponents, dating back to the 2008-09 season.
The Mavericks come to Lexington coming off a 70-57 win over Upper Iowa in their home opener. Nebraska Omaha is 2-1 on the season.
Fans interested in tickets can visit the Joe Craft Center ticket office, go to UKathletics.com, or call the UK ticket office at 1-800-928-CATS.
Single-game reserved tickets are available at a cost of $7 for all ages. General admission tickets for adults are also $7 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (18 and under, 65 and over) are only $4. Age 5 and under are admitted free.
Season tickets for the entire 18-game home schedule are also still available for $45, except lower-level chair back seating, which are $60 and sold out.
If not able to attend the game, it can be heard live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action. Fans can follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game. A live video stream is available on the subscription video portion of www.UKathletics.com.
Women's basketball parking is available in the following surface lots and parking structures. Because of the Thanksgiving break, more parking is available in the lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum:
- Student Center Lot - off Euclid Ave
- MLK South Lot - between Lexington Ave and MLK Blvd. and south (towards Euclid) of the center drive lane.
- Note: The residential (R1) lot in the northern portion of the MLK lot will also be available during the Thanksgiving Break for games on November 23, 25 and 27 only.
- Handicapped Parking (first come-first served until full) is located in the Northeast corner of the MLK South Lot, must have valid state-issued hang tag.
- Joe Craft Center North E-Lot - large lot located north of the Joe Craft Center, and accessible via Lexington Avenue or Rose St.
- Good Samaritan surface Lot - accessible off MLK Blvd
- Parking Structure #5 - entrances off Limestone and S. Upper
- Doors to the Coliseum will open one (1) hour prior to tip-off.
- UK Athletics encourages women's basketball fans to arrive early to ease traffic and parking congestion around the Coliseum.
- Surface event lots (i.e. Student Center, Hardymon, South MLK, Joe Craft Center North and Good Samaritan Surface Lot) typically reach capacity approximately 45 minutes prior to tip-off, at which point, vehicles should proceed to Parking Structure #5 (PS#5).
- The PS #5 shuttle will begin one hour prior to tip and end one hour post-game. The PS #5 shuttle picks up on Administration Drive, accessible via the sky bridge located on the 3rd Floor of PS#5.
Pre-Nebraska Omaha Media Opprtunity
Nov. 22, 2011
“We are looking forward to another challenge tomorrow as we try to improve as a team and get better. We have a chance to play the University of Nebraska Omaha at 4 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. We need to come out with a lot of energy and continue to try to improve as a defensive team. I’m looking for, hopefully, some steps forward from our post players. That’s been a real big emphasis in practice. There’s a lot to work on this time of year and we have a good challenge ahead of us tomorrow. We’re looking forward to playing them.”
On the connection to Nebraska Omaha…
“Their coach, Chance Lindley, was Niya Butts’ top assistant at Arizona. Niya and I met Chance when he was a junior college coach in Kansas and recruited a couple of his players. He’s a good basketball coach and a good guy. He has been selected to lead them in a new journey for their program. I know it’s an exciting time for him, and he’s a good basketball coach.”
On how hard it is to keep energy up with all these games in such a short time period…
“That’s what I keep telling my team. I firmly believe this; it’s all about being able to not only be in great physical condition, but I think this team needs tremendous mental and emotional strength and stamina. I feel like we really have an advantage because we practice so hard. If we will just stay tough mentally and believe in ourselves, there should be no stretch that’s too rough for us. I think we have had good success over the last couple years playing three days in a row with the SEC Tournament. We have some experience. I think this style of play, if the players will commit to practice this way, it really ends up building your team into a level of toughness that allows you to handle stretches like this. But it’s still so early, we did it last week, we have another stretch this week. I think it’s good for us. The easy thing to do now is just sort of show up, play the game and see if we can overpower our opponent. I think, what a great opportunity for our kids to really focus in and try to play very sound fundamentally. This is valuable for our team, but I think it all starts with practice.”
On if he changes his approach at all in practice during a stretch like this…
“What we’re trying to do right now is we have some people who are practicing at a very high level, and some people who are not. We just have some people who aren’t mentally prepared every day. One thing we try to talk about is being mentally prepared for practice – don’t just wait for game time for the lights to come on. We really need to have that kind of focus in practice every day. We’ve been having some tough practices. We had a very good session yesterday and we’ll try to work hard this afternoon to see if we can continue to get better. I think it’s imperative this time of year to try to get better. We’re nowhere near as cohesive as a unit as we need to be. It takes practice to get that done so we’re keeping the heat on right now.”
On how freshman guard Bria Goss has responded to his defensive teachings…
“She has responded well. She has responded very well. She has a positive, upbeat attitude, willingness to learn, willingness to accept coaching. Bria Goss is the kind of person we like to have here at Kentucky. A lot of that was coaching, and we needed to show her positioning. Sometimes in a game, you’re trying to make adjustments and kids, especially young kids, just can’t understand. Then you put the video on and that helps them tremendously. You’re able to slow it down and get them in practice and really work with her positioning. I think she will do well. We are in pretty good shape and pretty good physical condition. Now what we need to be is more aware of positioning, and technique, and fundamentals. If we can mold those together we’re going to have a pretty good defensive team.”
On how important it is for his players to like each other to play the style of ball that they play…
“It’s very, very key. I think we need to have a close team. I think we need to have a team that cares about each other because you’re really asking a lot of each other. There are so many factors that go into it. Defensively, we’re asking you to leave your player and go trap another player and trust that your teammates are going to cover your back and those kinds of things there. The practices are long, they’re grueling, they’re physically intense, and they’re emotionally and mentally taxing. I think you need to be able to look over to your teammate and know that that’s somebody you can count on to either tell you, ‘Look, pick it up,’ or, ‘It’s going to be OK,’ or whatever. I think it’s very, very important for us to have a close team. We work a lot on that. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can get closer as a team and I hope those efforts pay off for us because I think it’s critical.”
On if he’s comfortable in helping build chemistry amongst the team and setting Xs and Os aside for a bit…
“I am comfortable with it. I think it really comes before Xs and Os. You must do a good job at both. I don’t think I could ever be the kind of coach who shows up right before practice, ‘Hey let’s roll out and practice,’ and then head to the house. We are here a lot trying to spend time developing relationships with the players so they know we can be counted on. I want to count on them. That happens with time and I’m comfortable in it. That’s probably the part of the job I love more than anything is trying to develop a group of people who really want to give to each other and they don’t care about the credit. It’s just a special thing to be around when you can get that done. It’s a really, really good feeling and it’s worth all the effort when it happens, and it doesn’t happen all the time. It’s a pretty neat thing to be around.”