Coach's 'facts' for Cats don't include excuses

jsmith3@herald-leader.comFebruary 12, 2009 

  • Thursday

    Kentucky at Auburn

    When: 7 p.m.

    Records: Kentucky 13-11, (3-6 SEC); Auburn 23-1 (8-1)

    Series: Auburn leads 23-11.

    Last meeting: UK beat Auburn 62-55 last season in Lexington.

    Radio: WLAP-AM 630

  • Lineups

    Kentucky

    Probable starters — Carly Ormerod, 5-8, Sr., G (6.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg); Amber Smith, 5-5, So., G (7.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.1 rpg); Amani Franklin, 5-11, Jr., G (10.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg); Victoria Dunlap, 6-1, So., F (12.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg); Eleia Roddy, 6-3, Sr., C (11.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg).

    Top reserves — Carly Morrow, 5-11, So. G (7.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg); Brittany Edelen, 5-9, Jr., G/F (4.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg).

    Auburn

    Probable starters — DeWanna Bonner, 6-4, Sr., G (21.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg); Alli Smalley, 5-8, So., G (12.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg); Sherell Hobbs, 5-11, Sr., G (12.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg); Whitney Boddie, 5-9, Sr., G (10.3 ppg, 7.9 apg; 4.3 rpg); Trevesha Jackson, 6-0, Sr., F (6.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg).

    Top reserves — KeKe Carrier, 6-6, Jr., C (5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg); Chantel Hilliard, 6-2, Fr., F (3.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg); Reneisha Hobbs, 5-10, So., G (3.1 ppg); Morgan Jennings, 5-8, Fr., G (2.6 ppg).

"Just the facts, ma'am."

Or to be more appropriate: "Just the facts, Cats."

In a spirited team meeting Tuesday, Kentucky women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell laid down truths as he sees them.

"We're going to deal in facts," he said Wednesday at a news conference. "When we're playing well, we'll point that out to them, and when we're not playing well, we'll point that out to them as well."

Mitchell encouraged his team, which has lost five of its past six conference games and is facing a game at No. 5 Auburn on Thursday, to deal only in those facts, not in excuses.

He's heard them all from all around.

"There's so many excuses that can be made," he said he told his team. "Your family or your friends or the fans or whoever is involved on the outside of the program is looking for some type of reason (for your failures)."

Mitchell outlined for his team some of the excuses he's been hearing.

"That we're not deep enough or we're not talented enough," he said. "That the team we're playing had better players."

He told the UK players to forget those excuses. With five games left in the regular season, they have no excuse not to deal in facts.

Mitchell pulled out film during the team meeting and showed his team what he calls the facts as they are.

The video showed many things, including UK playing well for 25 seconds of a possession before falling apart during the final five seconds.

"It's just a breakdown here and a breakdown there and that's the tough part," he said. "You have to explain that we have to give a little bit more."

Mitchell knows he's dealing with diminished numbers, with just six players in the regular Southeastern Conference rotation right now, but he sees that lack of depth as just another excuse.

"Unless our players take the responsibility, we're feeding into excuses and I think people who make excuses generally end up not performing at their best," he said.

Mitchell said the spirited team meeting and film session seemed to inspire a spirited practice shortly thereafter.

"For us being 3-6 in conference, morale is pretty good," he said. "Would it be better if we were 6-3? Probably. But for the situation we're in, I was pretty pleased with practice yesterday."

With five games left, including games against back-to-back ranked opponents in No. 5 Auburn and No. 15 Tennessee, the coach doesn't believe his team is going to give up.

"I've seen some progress, but we need to continue to progress," he said. "There's still a lot of basketball left to be played. A lot can happen between now and then. That's what we're trying to keep our players focused on."

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