BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The need to change a flight this summer inspired the motto Kentucky's women's team will take into this season.
When Coach Matthew Mitchell realized he needed to change a flight, Administrative Assistant Pam Stackhouse told him, "Don't worry. We're in championship mode. We'll do whatever we need to do."
Voila! UK had a motto: Championship Mode.
"It just struck me," Mitchell said at the Southeastern Conference Media Days on Thursday. "This is what our players need to be all the time."
For Mitchell, that championship mode has three components: honesty, hard work and discipline.
"If we get those three things in our daily life all the time, we feel we'll be a championship team," he said.
The women's team will need a few factors to fall into place. Forward Victoria Dunlap needs to become a "leading-scorer type," Mitchell said. Eleia Roddy needs a healthy season to establish herself as one of the SEC's better frontline players. Point guards Amber Smith and Carly Ormerod must return from injury.
"It's a wide-open year," Mitchell said of the SEC race. "Tennessee and LSU lost two really special players. This year, it's a little more balanced."
Kentucky, which tied for fourth place last season, now aims higher.
"I think we can do some big things," Smith said. "People are going to leave the gym with their mouths open because of how exciting we'll be."
Porter leads at the point
Michael Porter leads the competition for the point-guard role on UK's men's team, Coach Billy Gillispie said.
"Mike's definitely way ahead because he has experience," said Gillispie, who noted how junior college transfer Kevin Galloway had "probably struggled the most" so far among the point-guard candidates.
Gillispie attributed Galloway's struggles to having to shed college systems and terminology from his mind-set.
Jodie Meeks might play some point guard, but UK wants to be careful not to take anything away from his production at shooting guard, Gillispie said.
The UK coach noted the need for freshman DeAndre Liggins to play a "major role" this coming season.
"But he's a freshman," Gillispie said. "He has the talent, the work ethic and the commitment (to play well). We need for him to be a major player for us."
UK sees better passing
Gillispie predicted better passing in the high-low sets, around the perimeter and into the low post.
"We have a ton more skill," the UK coach said of the big men in the high and low posts. "We can catch, shoot and pass better.
"Our ball movement on the perimeter wasn't good. We'll move the ball quite a bit better and give Patrick some easy baskets."
Blue with envy
As Gillispie sat down to begin his interview session, an SEC official announced to reporters that weather prevented Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy from coming to Media Day.
"How did they get away with that?" Gillispie said (in jest?). "Write that down. We need to do that.
"I hope Andy gets properly fined."
A reporter playfully noted that Kennedy's punishment was having to live in Mississippi.
"I didn't say that," Gillispie said. "I think Mississippi is a wonderful place."