UK women's senior Henderson bleeds Blue and (Betty) White

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMarch 2, 2013 

To hear her teammates describe it, Brittany Henderson will be using her rubber-tipped cane to bust through the hoop bearing her likeness on Senior Day.

Then the UK forward affectionately nicknamed "Grandma Betty" will gingerly walk to center court for Sunday's pre-game festivities.

Henderson turns 22 on Senior Day, but in her teammates' minds she might as well be 102.

"She's definitely an old soul," said fellow senior A'dia Mathies, just 15 days younger than Henderson. "She never really does anything except stay inside and watch TV. She might as well have been in a rocking chair watching TV all day."

It was that vision of Henderson sitting in front of the television watching The Golden Girls with her quilt wrapped around her that inspired junior Samarie Walker to dub Henderson "Grandma Betty."

"She used to go to sleep at like 8 or 9," Walker said. "She's a grandma to me. She's a Betty. We started off calling her Betty Henderson, which got shortened to Betty, which shortened to Big Bet or Bet."

Henderson doesn't do much to dispel the nickname.

The 6-foot-2 senior (old lady from Pasadena, Calif.) confirmed that she's "an old soul."

"I go to sleep early," she said. "One of my favorite shows is The Golden Girls. I like to clean up when I'm bored. I don't go out too often."

The forward's goal is to be an executive chef one day. She frequently cooks meals for her teammates, comfort foods like pasta and enchiladas.

UK Coach Matthew Mitchell takes the nickname a step further, out onto the court.

"She moves a little slower in stretching so that may have something to do with it," he said when asked about the moniker.

The game has taken a toll on Henderson's body, junior DeNesha Stallworth suggested.

"Once you're in college for four years, your body's not the same," Stallworth said laughing. "She's just old."

But Henderson's maturity has been a key for Kentucky this season. Once a firecracker who butted heads with Mitchell regularly, she's now a veteran leader who went from averaging 20 minutes a game as a sophomore to 10 as a senior because of additions like Stallworth and Walker.

"She definitely has become a leader," Mathies said of Henderson, who averages just 1.1 points and 2.6 rebounds a game. "She doesn't complain about much. She just goes out and does everything."

There's no reason to complain, Henderson said. "As long as the team's winning, that's OK."

In fact, Henderson is one of the players the younger ones go to when they're not feeling good about themselves.

The senior is like that blue and pink quilt she wraps around herself.

"She has a real special connection with her teammates," Mitchell said. "They respect her and she's been a very giving person and very thoughtful of people and she has been terrific and really proud of her career and what she's accomplished."

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

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