Kentucky women's basketball hasn't had much success on the court against archrival Louisville in recent years.
Which is why the recruiting victory that Matthew Mitchell and Co. had in the Derby City last fall was especially sweet.
From the moment Iroquois High School star A'dia Mathies said no to Florida and hometown U of L and yes to UK in the early signing period, she says she started fielding the same question over and over and over in Jefferson County.
"It wasn't that people in Louisville gave me a lot of grief," Mathies said Thursday at Kentucky's women's basketball Media Day. "They just wanted to know why."
After Louisville — which has beaten Kentucky five years in a row — advanced to last season's national championship game, the questions for Mathies only increased.
So bear with us, and A'dia will tell you why it was Cats over Cards.
Few players who have signed with UK Hoops in recent years have brought as impressive a résumé as the one Mathies carried eastward down I-64.
The 5-foot-9 guard is Kentucky's reigning Miss Basketball and was the Sweet Sixteen MVP after leading Iroquois to the 2009 state title.
Mathies was ranked as the 13th-best senior shooting guard in the nation last season by ESPN's HoopGurlz.com.
With Kentucky's guard-heavy roster dictating a more up-tempo approach in 2009-10, Mathies is being counted on to play a large role.
"She's a player who can score, can shoot threes, has a mid-range game, and she can get to the basket," Mitchell said. "There are not a lot of players like that out there who can legitimately do all three."
Almost as impressive as her skill set, Mitchell said, has been Mathies' demeanor and maturity.
"In practice, she picks up unbelievably quickly what we are trying to do offensively and defensively," the UK coach said.
Incumbent UK point guard Amber Smith said, "I'm thinking SEC Freshman of the Year. That's what I told (Mathies). I have very high expectations for her."
Mathies (whose first name is pronounced AH-dee-uh) has excellent athletic bloodlines.
Her father, Johnny Mathies, played basketball at Shawnee High School back in the days when Wayne Golden and Ronnie Daniel were leading the school to the 1973 state championship.
Mathies' mother, Angela, has been an enthusiastic softball player. She still plays a bit of left field even now, and "she just turned 50," Johnny Mathies said.
A'dia's older brother, also named Johnny, was a point guard on the 2001 Male High team, with Larry O'Bannon and Michael Bush, that finished second to Lafayette in the Sweet Sixteen.
After high school, Johnny Mathies the younger became a standout at Creighton and played a year professionally in Germany.
Meanwhile, A'dia and her older sister by 11 months, Asia, wound up in the same class in school and were long-time fixtures at Iroquois.
A'dia began playing with the Iroquois varsity as a sixth-grader. Together, the sisters helped lead the school to the state tournament four times.
Asia is now a freshman playing basketball at Tennessee's Volunteer State Community College.
In fact, the biggest adjustment for A'dia at UK might be in playing on a team that does not include her sister.
"It's not weird, but it's definitely different," A'dia said. "Other than some All-Star games, we'd played together since, like, the fourth grade."
The path that led such an accomplished Louisville-area basketball player to pick Kentucky started with the short reign (2003-07) of former Pat Summitt aide Mickie DeMoss as UK head coach.
"When Mickie DeMoss was at Kentucky, I thought the program there had a chance to go to the next level," said Johnny Mathies (the father). "I sort of put that in A'dia's head. And I told her about the history of Kentucky basketball, admittedly more on the men's side, but I told her about the tradition and what playing there could do for her after her basketball was over."
By the time A'dia was weighing her college options, DeMoss had departed Kentucky. Meanwhile, behind star Angel McCoughtry and Coach Jeff Walz, it was U of L that went to the upper echelon of women's basketball.
Yet, at decision time, Mathies thought Blue.
"I was comfortable with UK," she said. "The tradition. It's a great school. And I wanted to get away from home a little bit."
For UK women's basketball, that decision projects as a notable victory.
"I think we have one of the most talented players I've seen in a while," Mitchell said of Mathies. "It's sure good she is wearing a Kentucky uniform."
Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your e-mail could appear on the blog Read Mark Story's E-mail at Kentucky.com.