Kentucky women tired of winning ugly

jsmith3@herald-leader.comDecember 6, 2012 

ukVul

Coach Matthew Mitchell and the UK women face a pair of tough tests in De-Paul on Friday and Middle Tennessee on Sunday.

JONATHAN PALMER — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

  • Where: Rupp Arena | When: 7 p.m. Friday | TV: Fox Sports South | Radio: WLAP-AM 630Records: Kentucky 6-1, DePaul 6-2 | Series: Kentucky leads 2-0 | Last meeting: Kentucky won 77-63 on Feb. 15, 1984, in Lexington

  • Lineups

    KENTUCKY

    Starters — A'dia Mathies, 5-9, Sr., G (13.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.3 spg); Jennifer O'Neill, 5-6, So., G (5.2 ppg; 1.7 rpg); Bria Goss, 5-10, So., G (8.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg); Samarie Walker, 6-1, Jr., F (8.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg); DeNesha Stallworth, 6-3, Jr., F (9.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.9 bpg).

    Key reserves — Bernisha Pinkett, 5-7, Jr., G (8.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg); Janee Thompson, 5-6, Fr., PG (6.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg); Azia Bishop, 6-3, So., F (5.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Kastine Evans, 5-9, Jr., G (4.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg); Maegan Conwright, 5-8, JR, G (3.5 ppg); Samantha Drake, 6-3, Jr., F (2.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg); Brittany Henderson, 6-2, Sr., F (1.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg); Jalleah Sydney, 6-2, So., F (1.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg).

    DEPAUL

    Starters — Anna Martin, 5-9, Sr., G (12.1 ppg, 5.0 apg; 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg); Brittany Hrynko, 5-8, So., G (14.4 ppg, 4.9 apg, 4.8 rpg); Chanise Jenkins, 5-5, Fr., G (7.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.8 apg): Katherine Harry, 6-3, Sr., F (11.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg); Jasmine Penny, 6-1, Jr., F (13.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg).

    Key reserves — Megan Rogowski, 5-9, So., G (7.5 ppg, 3.0 pg); Brandi Harvey-Carr, 6-4, Fr., F (1.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg); Kelsey Smith, 6-4, Jr., F (3.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg).

Forget the Kentucky comeback.

The 14-point turnaround at Louisville on Sunday night is old news.

In fact the comeback against the Cards led to the Cats' comeuppance this week in practice.

"The film doesn't lie," UK women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell said Thursday. "We were not sharp. It's sort of amazing (the players were) not focused for that game. It was not a pretty performance. We were very fortunate we won that game."

What the film told Mitchell and Mitchell in turn told his once-jubilant players is that they have loads of work to do before the No. 7 Cats take on DePaul on Friday in Rupp Arena and then Middle Tennessee State on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum.

Neither team is ranked, but both are receiving votes in the two national polls.

And either team could beat a UK team that is miles away from where it needs to be offensively.

Mitchell said he's been "trying to find the right buttons to push" with his team, but that nothing has worked.

"I would like for it to look like we are intelligent, in tune, focused basketball players," he said.

But if he can't get that, then he told his group it "better be just a bunch of junkyard dogs" who will win games in the ugly ways.

"They only have a couple of choices, either get going here and start playing together offensively and focusing and (making sure) each person has a hand in the possession," he said, "or we better become the most aggressive offensive rebounding team. ... We are not doing either right now and that is a challenge that we face."

Mitchell is not opposed to winning in ugly ways, but he told his players and in turn the media on Thursday that the Cats have to start putting in work offensively.

Sure, freshman Janee Thompson's three-pointer to beat Louisville with less than 10 seconds to play was a thing of beauty, but it was a mess of a possession from the start.

"I couldn't think of a play to run, so I was pretty much trying to create my own shot," Thompson said, noting that it "wasn't the best play, the prettiest play because I was dribbling everywhere."

It's not just a Thompson problem, Mitchell said. He said it's a team offense problem. Players aren't focused, they're standing around a lot watching each other make plays instead of making plays for each other.

It's led to shooting woes against quality opponents like Baylor, who held UK to 27 percent from the field, or Louisville, which held UK to 32.7 percent.

In both games, UK's three-point percentage was less than 20 percent.

Less than five years ago, he said there were about 40 different offensive sets available to the Cats.

This season he's comfortable calling maybe 10, Mitchell said.

"We did not play very cohesively at Louisville so we are so fortunate to have won that game," he said. "We made a bunch of outstanding individual plays, but that will eventually catch up to you.

"We have to play much, much better than how we are playing."

Cats will break own attendance mark

Late Thursday, Kentucky reported it had distributed 17,158 tickets to Friday night's game versus DePaul in Rupp Arena.

It would take just 1,406 more tickets sold (or given away) for the Cats to best last season's NCAA single-game, regular-season attendance record of 18,563 set in Knoxville for Tennessee's game against Florida.

Tickets can be purchased at TicketMaster for $1 for each of Kentucky's home games in December. Tickets purchased at the game will be regular price.

The 17,158 tickets already out will set an attendance record for the UK women, besting the 14,508 versus Duke last season in Rupp Arena.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service