Sports

Mitchell looking for three-point thunder

To say it simply: Kentucky needs shooters.

It has a few pure shooters, Coach Matthew Mitchell assured, they're just not necessarily in the rotation that the public gets to see.

"They're in practice at times, but they're not eligible to play right now," Mitchell said, referring to Rebecca Gray and Keyla Snowden, who are sitting out this season per NCAA transfer rules.

Mitchell, who added later that he was only kidding, was probably only partially kidding.

Kentucky, which has won four in a row and will play at No. 25 Xavier on Tuesday, is still searching for a consistent three-point threat that will open up the inside for players like Victoria Dunlap and Eleia Roddy.

The coach saw glimpses of three-point heat in UK's first game at the Turkey Classic last week. The Cats shot a season-best 55.6 percent, including 37.5 percent from three-point range.

They followed that up with a season-worst 27.9 percent shooting night 24 hours later. That included a 10.5 percent clip from beyond the arc.

"We were sort of like the stock market there in the second half," he said. "We had a crisis of confidence in the second half. ... We were mentally out of sync with making shots."

It has been a problem that has plagued UK all season.

The Cats are shooting just 21.2 percent from three-point range. They have made only 18 shots from the outside.

Of the five Kentucky players who have attempted five three-pointers or more this season, none is shooting better than 23 percent.

The coach insists UK really does have more shooters than the two in dress clothes on the bench.

"We try to give encouragement that we are good shooters and can shoot the ball," he said. "With the three-point shot, if we can get anybody making them with some consistency ... then it will take some of the pressure off everybody else. It's very difficult to make the shots when you feel like, 'This has to go in. I'm the only one who can make shots.' And that's the kind of mentality our team gets into."

He pointed to junior college transfer Jackie Sanders as a potential "knock-down shooter.

"One player like that can make a tremendous difference," he said of Sanders, who has played just 10 minutes this season after being suspended for several games.

He also mentioned guards like Amber Smith and Carly Ormerod as other potential game-changing shooters.

"We have enough three-point shooting to get the job done," Mitchell said.

Now he just has to persuade his shooters of that.

Notes

Kentucky is 0-2 in games at Xavier and 1-5 overall. ... A win over UK would make Coach Kevin McGuff the Musketeers' all-time winningest coach. He is one shy of eclipsing Melanie Balcomb, who is now the coach at Vanderbilt.

  Comments