Kentucky-Delaware notes: Will Saturday be up or down day for Mathies?

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMarch 29, 2013 

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Even in her final days in a Kentucky uniform, A'dia Mathies remains a mystery.

In the Bridgeport Region semifinals on Saturday afternoon, which Mathies will show up?

Will it be the Mathies who played against Navy, who didn't make a basket for the first time in her storied UK career and finished with five points?

Or will it be the Mathies who played through a violent stomach illness against Dayton and matched her career high with 34 points, making all but four of her 17 shots, including 6-for-7 from three-point range?

Not even the two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year knows for sure.

"I don't know what to expect," she said on Friday as Kentucky prepared to take on Delaware.

"But I know what I want to do: Be aggressive, play the game that I know I'm capable of playing. That doesn't mean I'm going to have another 34-point game. But I know I will give my best effort."

That's all anyone can ask of Mathies, who is just 16 points away from hitting the 2,000-point mark that only UK greats Valerie Still, Dan Issel, Jack "Goose" Givens and Kenny Walker have managed to reach.

Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell also doesn't know what Mathies will do, but he knows that her 34-point performance against Dayton in the last round was good for confidence.

"We'll do everything we can to encourage her," he said. "She's very motivated to win. People need to understand this: Anything that happens with any of these kids when they don't do well is all coming from a place of wanting to do well and just not handling it right. It's never a situation where she shows up and doesn't want to do well. It's the opposite. She wants to do so well and something doesn't go right and she doesn't handle it well."

Fellow guard Jennifer O'Neill mentioned that Kentucky is more than just Mathies. She tries to remind the senior of that as well, to take the pressure off.

"Look at the Navy game, she didn't have a really good game and that's what we're here for. We pick up her when she's down."

Is VP Delaware's MVP?

Not many coaches can say they've had an exchange quite like the one Delaware Coach Tina Martin had recently.

"He usually calls me out of the blue and says: 'Tina, this is Joe. If you don't know, Joe Biden.'

"And I'm like, 'Yes, Mr. Vice President,'" Martin recounted to the media on Friday.

Biden, a former U.S. Senator from Delaware, was at Tuesday's Blue Hens victory over North Carolina. Martin said she hasn't taken another call from Biden about Saturday's game but is hoping that he will make an appearance at Webster Bank Arena.

"I can't say if he will or will not be here," Martin said. "Certainly he's a good luck charm. We haven't lost since he's been in the stands. So if there's any way that President Obama could please let him come, we'd appreciate that."

Unless there's a March surprise coming, Biden probably won't be in attendance. According to the political blog on www.thehill.com, Biden and his wife, Jill, are spending Easter weekend at Kiawah Island near Charleston, S.C., and no public events are scheduled.

Enjoying the ride

Kentucky has been to the Sweet 16 three of the past four years, so there's no "just happy to be here" for the Cats.

But it's the first time in school history for Delaware, so there has been a little bit of wonderment and awe for the Blue Hens, Martin admitted.

"They're enjoying this moment and joking," she said. "I want them to enjoy this moment and take pictures and videos if they want."

The players have been messing around, making head bands out of pre-wrap tape for assistant coaches and other fun things, but that will change come Saturday.

"We're happy to be there, but once we step on the court, it's all business," said Trumae Lucas, a transfer from Florida. "We don't let that off-the-court excitement interfere with the game."

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

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