Nov. 26, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The seventh-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team will play host to Bradley in Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at Noon ET. UK will look to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 2011-12 and third time under head coach Matthew Mitchell. Fans can listen to the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price or follow Twitter updates on @UKHoopCats. Live streaming video is available to members of the subscription video portion of www.UKathletics.com.
Single-game reserved tickets cost of $9 for all ages. General admission tickets for adults are $8 while single-game general admission tickets for seniors and children (ages 6-18, 65 and over) are only $5. UK faculty, staff and children ages five and under are admitted free in the general admission seating area, while supplies last. Season tickets are also still available for just $65. Lower-level chair back seating ($80) is sold out.
Fans are asked to bring unused toiletry items travel size or regular size (tooth brush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant) to either game. The items will be donated to Bluegrass Hospitality Group's Thanksgiving Dinner for the less fortunate, which will take place on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, Nov. 28) from 11-2 p.m. ET at Malone's and Sal's on Tates Creek Road.
Fans who donate items will receive a voucher for a free box of popcorn with their donation. Fans can bring their toiletry items to any of the UK Marketing gazebos located inside Memorial Coliseum.
“We are asking people in the community to help the people who are less fortunate than we are by bringing any unused or new toiletry items that we are going to distribute at a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday,” Mitchell said. “We had a great response to that at our last home game and we are asking the community to rally and really help us out with that community service initiative. We would really be appreciative of that.”
Wednesday’s game also is the first of three UK sporting events for the “Big Blue Triathlon.” UK Hoops has the first event at Noon followed by men’s basketball vs. Eastern Michigan in Rupp Arena at 4 p.m. ET. The triathlon concludes at 8 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum where the volleyball team plays host to Florida in the squad’s regular-season finale.
Fans will have an opportunity to register in person prior to the women’s basketball game in Memorial Coliseum. Participants will receive a wristband at each checkpoint.
- Checkpoint #1 – Prior to women’s basketball on the West Concourse
- Checkpoint #2 – Women’s basketball postgame on West Concourse
- Checkpoint #3 – Prior to men’s basketball in Rupp Arena main lobby
- Checkpoint #4 – Men’s basketball postgame in Rupp Arena main lobby
- Checkpoint #5 – Prior to volleyball match on West Concourse
- Finish – Volleyball post match (must have all 5 prior wristbands)
All finishers will receive a commemorative Big Blue Triathlon t-shirt. One grand champion (random drawing) will receive a Nike gift pack and two lower level tickets to the men’s basketball game vs. Louisville, VIP access to ESPN College GameDay on February 15th, two lower level tickets to men’s basketball vs. Florida, and two lower level tickets to men’s basketball vs. Alabama (senior day). The winning “triathlete” will also get to shoot baskets on the Rupp Arena floor prior to one of the games as well as get their picture taken at mid court.
Participants are encouraged to stay hydrated throughout the day. First aid stations are available at each venue. Sign-ups will begin at 11 a.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum on November 27.
Parking is available in all available “E” lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum. Parking Structure #5 will be available but fans need to pull a white ticket from the dispenser and exchange for a pink voucher with Event Staff at the entrances of the Coliseum. The Lexington Parking Authority Transit Center Parking Garage, located between High Street and Vine Street, is also available. If parking in this garage, bring the yellow token and game ticket to the Guest Service table at the Lexington Ave entrance to request a free parking coupon. Shuttles are available beginning 1.5 hours prior to tip off and pick up/drop off near Parking Structure # 5 (blue route) and near the Transit Center Parking Garage (green route).
For more parking information, please visit www.ukathletics.com/wbbgameday.
Located in Peoria, Ill., the Bradley Braves enter Wednesday’s game at 2-3 with wins over Illinois (98-92) and Southeast Missouri State (72-68) and losses to Stony Brook (83-79), South Florida (87-63) and Northern Illinois (63-60).
Junior guard Michelle Young leads Bradley through five games in scoring at 19.4 points per game and 42.9 percent shooting from the field.
The Wildcats (6-0) are riding a 16-game winning streak over nonconference opponents after a hard-fought victory at Middle Tennessee on Sunday.
UK came out firing on all cylinders against the Blue Raiders, leading by as many as 17 points and shooting 50 percent from the field for the second straight game. In the 84-72 win, junior Bria Goss (Indianapolis) once again had an impressive outing as she netted a team-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Senior Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) continued her streak of hot shooting, adding 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Junior Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) and senior Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) followed with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Walker narrowly missed her third straight double-double as she grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Overall, senior forward DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif), an All-America Candidate, leads a very balanced scoring attack this season. She averages a team-high 13.8 points per game, while shooting a team-high 62.7 percent from the field which ranks second in the league and 18th nationally. Evans follows closely behind with 13.2 points per game. She is netting 60.0 percent from the 3-point line, a mark that ranks first in the Southeastern Conference and eighth nationally. Goss and Janee Thompson (Chicago) also are averaging in double figures this season with 11.7 and 10.5 ppg, respectively. Walker is the team’s leading rebounder with 9.7 rebounds per game.
UK leads the all-time series over Bradley 2-0.
Media Opportunity - November 26, 2013
Opening Statement …
“This is an exciting press conference with a lot going on today for the people sitting in this room and the millions who are tuned in on the World Wide Web streaming live today. First of all, big game tomorrow with Bradley at Noon. We are asking people in the community to help the people who are less fortunate than we are by bringing any unused or new toiletry items that we are going to distribute at a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. We had a great response to that at our last home game and we are asking the community to rally and really help us out with that community service initiative. We would really be appreciative of that.
“Before we talk about Bradley, who we have tremendous respect for, I would like to touch on recruiting and allow you to ask any questions you may have there. We have released our signing class for 2014 and it was a good one. We are really, really excited about it. As we approach recruiting every year that we are here, we understand the uniqueness of Kentucky and how we do things here. We are on the search for the right kinds of people. Not only do you have to have a high level of talent, you have to have the desire to be in this atmosphere and in the environment every day where we are really trying to push young women to be their best. We are so thrilled with the four players that we signed.”
On filling the need in the post with this class …
“What I really loved about the high school players, Alyssa Rice and Alexis Jennings, is they have very good size, big post players, strong, but have the athleticism and the speed for us to continue to play an up-tempo style. Those are not the easiest players to find. It really is a small group of players each and every year. For us to get two of them out of the high school ranks really, really helps us a lot. Then Ivana (Jakubcova) being a junior college player and having two years of college experience under her belt sometimes that helps a player transition easier into the college game. I think when you lose really dynamic and productive post players like Samarie (Walker) and DeNesha (Stallworth) we need to make sure we did our best to fill that gap. It is really fortunate for us that we were able to get three players that fit our program, not only off the court being high character young women, but also on the court having the athleticism, speed and skillset to play Kentucky basketball.”
On the recruiting process of Ivana Jakubcova …
“You are always looking at all times for people that will fit. Ivana came to our attention and very quickly became a person we thought was a great fit at Kentucky. What I have said many times, it’s funny, recruiting now is 365 days a year and you just have to keep plugging and keep working. Sometimes you recruit a kid from eighth or ninth grade on and she ends up at Kentucky and sometimes it happens with different timing the way that Ivana’s did. Just always on the lookout for the right kind of player and person to help us play championship basketball. She has great size and is really, really tall but still mobile. She is not a plotting slow post (player). She has some great length and can be disruptive around the basket just with her size. The thing we liked most about her is her skillset. She can really run and catch and has great hands. You know, 15 to 17-foot range that is just knockdown deadly and we feel like she can make the 3 enough to keep people honest. Really like her size, speed and skillset.”
On the importance of this signing class with the senior class that is leaving after 2013-14 …
“Yeah, you look at DeNesha and Samarie and look what they have become here and you want to try to get some players that could become what they are. That is kind of what you look for and we think that clearly with Alexis and Alyssa, they remind me of those two players and what they can do. Alexis can really handle the basketball and Alyssa can really handle the basketball sort of like Samarie and DeNesha. They both have great size and both are explosive athletes. That helps a lot. Losing Kastine (Evans), losing Bernisha (Pinkett), two players who have throughout their careers made significant contributions, but both of them have been able to make shots from the perimeter and help us there and Jaycee Coe is one of the elite-level shooters in this class and what a high character young woman she is. I am really excited that we were able to identify some players that can come in and become top-level, top-notch Kentucky basketball players.”
On if he has coached anyone with the size of Ivana …
“Not many. There are not a lot of 6-6 post players out there. I have been around some and size and height is something that you are given by God and you can’t coach that. We were really excited once we got to know her and the kind of person she is. I think she has a tremendous potential to have a really good two years here at Kentucky.”
On Bradley …
“Bradley is a very impressive team when you put the tape on and start watching them. They have some really outstanding guard play. I just was so, so impressed when I started watching them. Kelsey Budd is their point guard and is a player that can really make all the plays. As you watch our personnel tape on her, she’s able to make all the plays, get to the basket, push it in transition, get to the basket. She’s able to hit the mid-range jumper, she has deep range from 3, so she can really push the ball. This is interesting: Bradley really pushes the ball. So another team sort of like Central Michigan wanted to come in and push the ball, so we’ve got to be ready in transition defense without a doubt. Their starting five is very, very impressive. We need to do everything we can to make our depth a positive factor in the game for us and this’ll be a tough challenge for us tomorrow at noon.”
On whether the team’s offense is even better than he thought it would be …
“I just never think in terms of, you know, measuring statistically. That’s one of the things that I’m trying to get better at using numbers and letting those things help us. But I just—My vision was we had some really good players, let’s get them in great shape, great situations, coach them well and so I just never start the season thinking, ‘Well, after six games we’ll be, you know, doing a certain thing statistically.’ So I thought, in the summer, that we had a chance to be a very, very good offensive basketball team because of our depth and because of the skills that our players have and I just think, with our combination of speed and then we have a really tough post presence at the basket, have a lot of things going on that we can use to be a good offensive team. I think the key for us really is trying to focus on execution. We had a great day at Middle Tennessee, made a lot of shots, weren’t as sharp execution-wise. Made a lot of just really athletic, great plays in that game, but I thought our execution slipped from some earlier games. So that’s going to be an important thing for this team is to not worry about what you’re averaging a game, not worry about what the statistics say. What does the film show, what are we doing from an execution standpoint and if this team will really focus on offensive execution every day, we’re going to be a really, really tough team to beat.”
On Bria Goss and her improved confidence as a shooter …
“I don’t know that I did a great job with her last year helping her in the season until maybe —The thing that happens when a kid like Bria shows up and she’s so mature beyond her years. She showed up and she just really had a great work ethic and did everything that you ask her to do, very little problems, sometimes I don’t do great with those players because, SEC Freshman of the Year, great success, I don’t know that I did a great job of helping her until it was sort of too late last year and being more aware. In building the program, I’ve spent a lot of time with the knuckleheads who are, you know, causing all sorts of trouble and I’m trying to get them fixed and get going and I think Bria has just benefited from us trying to spend some time with her, define her role more clearly, talking to her and checking in with her, making sure she’s doing well and feeling good about things and taking the time to invest in her and just being there for her like we would if somebody was messing up or causing trouble. I think that Bria deserves all the credit for just being confident because of her work and not confident or cocky just because something she feels. It’s based on something solid and so she’s put in a lot of work, a lot of hours. Her attitude’s terrific, her leadership. She’s always trying to become a better leader and so she’s a special young woman and I just think that, as coaches, we have to stay in tune with her and make sure that she knows she’s doing a good job and we have to make sure we’re investing time in her. And when we do that, I think we see good results from her.”
On what he invested in Goss …
“It’s nothing major. It’s just sitting down before the season and having a one-on-one conversation. What are your goals? She’s very goal-oriented, she’s very specific about who she wants to become and I think people like that need to express themselves and they need to know that, you know, people are listening. I don’t know if other coaches have struggled with it, but it’s just something that I’ve found is that, you know, it’s easy to take the really, really good kids for granted at times and they need as much encouragement and as much time with them as you do. If you spend all the time with people who are not trying their hardest, then these people may start to feel like all their hard work is for nothing. It’s nothing major. It’s just constantly trying to make sure that we stay connected and checked in with her and she’s doing a terrific job and I’m so happy. When someone works hard like that and they see rewards from that hard work, it makes me very happy for Bria.”
On how the team has handled the transition to the new offense and the hiring of assistant coach Jeff House this summer…
“I think it’s been a very good transition because where the improvement has been, is in the small details. What I love about Jeff (House) and what he was able to bring, is he didn’t have to worry a second about recruiting the last five or six years in the WNBA. Everything was just working on basketball execution and player relations, certainly. The majority of his time was on the finer points and details of offensive or defensive execution. His experience and the things he’s been able to bring to the table really, really helped our staff, who we’re college basketball coaches and spend a lot of time recruiting, a lot of time with academics and a lot of time with different things. Certainly, for me as a head coach, to bring in Coach House who was just able to help us with some details on things. I think it’s been great. (Coach) Santos and (Coach) Pillow have also done a great job with their respective positions and helping us stay focused on the details. It’s been a really, really good collaboration amongst the staff to help the players get into positions where they can be more successful.”
On if he learned anything about his team from the game at MTSU…
“I thought that we were able to cover up some mistakes just with effort. It was really good physical effort, and what we’re trying to do is just marry the mental and the physical together. If we can get those both working each day in practice and each game, then we’ll become our best. I thought the pace allowed us to break out and get out to a lead that was insurmountable for Middle Tennessee. You saw us just stay relentless on the push all day long and I think it took a toll on Middle Tennessee. I think it takes a toll on a lot of teams, so what we’re trying to do is become the very best we can be. The scoreboard is important because you need to win games, but really for us, I just want to see a maximum effort each game mentally and physically because I absolutely believe when we do, we’re going to be a tough, tough team to beat.”
On if he has any guidelines on the decision-making in the halfcourt offense and when to attack…
“It’s just repetitions in practice that help them make those decisions. We try not to say ‘here are the rules one, two, three, four, and be real specific.’ That challenges the players in practice to have more of a feel for when to do what. That is a lot responsibility on players and that is important for them. The only way you get good at that, in my experience, is practice and making sure that mental engagement is there in practice every day because we are going to give you enough reps where you can get it figured out. I think at this point, they’ve done a nice job of things. What is so exciting for me is there is still a lot of room for improvement with this team. We certainly know that the numbers are where they are now because some of the games have been big discrepancies or big disparities in talent. That will start to shrink as we move into conference play. You’ll have to rely on being able to make good decisions and be able to make the right reads and I think there is a ton of room for improvement there. We need to improve because the road just gets tougher and tougher the farther we go.”
On what he wants to get out of the game vs. Bradley before heading into a tough December schedule…
“I’d like to be able to put on the tape after the game tomorrow and see a very sharp, mental focus that leads to great execution and I’d love to see a supreme Kentucky physical effort. If those two things come together, I think that no matter who the competition is, then we have a chance to win every game we play and that’s what we’re trying to do is be our best every day. Tomorrow is very important for us to protect our home court and very important to get another quality win against a team that I think is very, very good. When that tape goes on after the game tomorrow, we’ll be able to know what kind of mental effort we gave and what kind of physical effort we gave. Very few times has the physical effort not been there, so I want to see that mental effort there as well.”
On if she felt like the coaching staff gave her more attention this summer than last year…
“It’s not like I was wanting the attention or the coaches aren’t doing this, this and this. I’m just going out there playing for my team. (The coaching staff) is always supportive and has always been supportive. I thought they were supportive last year, so (Coach Mitchell) was probably just being harder on himself than I would have given him credit for. I still felt I had a big role last year, although he may not have been encouraging me on the small things that I do. Over the summer we worked hard and I was in the office more, just building relationships. There will be times when Coach will take me out to eat and just talk. That carries over to the court and I think our bond has become stronger.”
On where the team is right now…
“I think the team is already further along than we were last year and I know you probably have heard that a lot, but I think the bond with the team and being able to take criticism from somebody else other than the coaches is stronger. I think that comes with off the court activities. We’ll all go watch the men’s game or go out to eat as a team, just being comfortable with each other carries over to the court.”
On if the team uses constructive criticism towards each other…
“One of our former players, Crystal Riley, pulled us all together and was telling us that she needs to see more of that this year. I know, me personally, that is kind of where I struggle with my leadership. I do a lot of encouraging rather than (constructive) criticizing and I think for us to get to the next step I think I need to take on that role of being the one to say, ‘hey DeNesha, get lower or get that board.’ I can’t always be the nice person and I think I’m a little bit too nice sometimes, but that is just my personality.”
On if the new offense implemented during the offseason has resulted in the team averaging 95 points per game to start the season…
“This was the first year where the coaches could come in and have those individual practices and I think that really helped, but I also saw a lot more people in the gym this summer. That’s kind of where it starts, getting in the gym and then doing work with the coaches. I think with more people in the gym getting shots up or working on ball handling is really coming into play.”
On what the team needs to do vs. Bradley to prepare for the tough stretch coming in December…
“Those are really good teams (we face in December), but the main focus right now is Bradley and taking it one game at a time. Right now, we have a tough team in front of us and we’re going to look at them as the top team in the nation.”