UK women notes: It's no John Wall dance, but ...

jsmith3@herald-leader.comOctober 28, 2010 

  • Pre-season rankings

    School Points

    1. Tennessee 121

    2. Kentucky 108

    3. LSU 93

    T4. Georgia 88

    T4. Vanderbilt 88

    6. Auburn 59

    7. South Carolina 48

    8. Alabama 43

    9. Mississippi 42

    10. Florida 39

    11. Arkansas 35

    12. Mississippi State 28

    Player of the Year

    Player, school Votes

    Victoria Dunlap, Kentucky 8

    Shekinna Stricklen, Tennessee 2

    Marah Strickland, S. Carolina 1

    Jence Rhoads, Vanderbilt 1

    FIRST TEAM ALL-SEC

    Player, school

    Alli Smalley, Auburn

    Porsha Phillips, Georgia

    Victoria Dunlap, Kentucky

    A'dia Mathies, Kentucky

    LaSondra Barrett, LSU

    Angie Bjorklund, Tennessee

    Shekinna Stricklen, Tennessee

    Jence Rhoads, Vanderbilt

    Second TEAM

    Tierney Jenkins, Alabama

    C'eira Ricketts, Arkansas

    Jasmine James, Georgia

    Katherine Graham, LSU

    Marah Strickland, South Carolina

    Kelley Cain, Tennessee

    Glory Johnson, Tennessee

    Hannah Tuomi, Vanderbilt

    As voted on by the coaches

University of Kentucky senior Amber Smith was slightly worried about what she was going to see at Big Blue Madness two weeks ago.

She'd been secretly coaching her basketball coach, Matthew Mitchell, to do "The Dougie Dance" in front of a packed house at Rupp Arena.

Mitchell kept trying to add his own twists and flair to the dance.

"I was kind of nervous he was going to do some stuff and add to it," she said, adding that she strongly advised against that.

Smith was surprised to see him pull it off flawlessly.

Mitchell did the dance so well that it's become an Internet sensation.

As of 7 p.m. Thursday, Mitchell's Dougie had 52,410 hits on YouTube.

It gets played over and over in the lobby of the Joe Craft Center where the teams practice.

It's a hit with the players, too.

"I walk by the little video thing and I can't stop laughing," senior Victoria Dunlap said.

Guard Crystal Riley gave her coach faint praise.

"He can dance a little bit," she said. "He kind of went overboard with it a little bit, but he can dance a little bit."

Mitchell said as he stood beneath the bleachers at Rupp that night he questioned the decision to do it.

"I was thinking, 'You idiot. Why did you think it was a good idea?' " he recalled for members of the media Thursday at the team's annual Media Day event.

Tongue firmly in cheek, he said he was glad he did.

"It's one of the crowning achievements of my career," he said. "I know my parents back in Mississippi are extremely proud of me."

Dunlap, Mathies honored

The Southeastern Conference coaches put out their pre-season honors list Thursday, and both Victoria Dunlap and A'dia Mathies of Kentucky were picked to the first team.

Dunlap, last season's SEC Player of the Year as a junior, was picked as the top player again. Mathies was league Freshman of the Year last season.

Mitchell had glowing praise for each player.

"Victoria Dunlap and A'dia Mathies are both special because they work as hard on the defensive end as they do on the offensive end," he said. "(Mathies) and Victoria are obviously good players, so if we don't have a good season, it will obviously be coaching."

As in the media poll, UK was picked to finish second behind Tennessee.

Smith's knee progressing

Senior point guard Amber Smith has been diligent about doing the rehab on her surgically repaired knee in hopes of getting it strong enough to return to help her team.

"The doctors are very pleased with her effort at this point," Mitchell said. "She is doing everything she needs to do and doing it better than we would normally expect."

Smith is expected to start jogging in a couple of weeks and she has been doing some running, jumping, swimming and kicking in the underwater rehab tub at UK.

But neither Smith nor her coach wanted to speculate on a return date — if there will be one — this season.

"We're just trying to get the knee as strong as it can be," Mitchell said. "Amber will be able to make whatever decisions she wants to make as far as trying to finish this season out."

Smith said going through the process on her other knee two seasons ago has helped.

"It's not particularly easier, but mentally it's helped me become stronger," Smith said. "It definitely helped going through it once."

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