UK Women's Basketball

UK women find losing is a team effort, too

UK forward Victoria Dunlap, foreground,  pressured by Georgia defenders Sunday, "needs some help from her teammates," Coach Matthew Mitchell said.
UK forward Victoria Dunlap, foreground, pressured by Georgia defenders Sunday, "needs some help from her teammates," Coach Matthew Mitchell said.

Only three times this season has Kentucky shot lower than 30 percent from the field.

All of those times were losses, and two have been in the past week at Arkansas and against Georgia.

It would be easy to blame the poor offensive performance on UK's lack of a true point guard, with senior Amber Smith out indefinitely with a knee injury, but Coach Matthew Mitchell said it's much more than that.

"Once I had a chance to really go back and watch it on video, there was really no one doing what they needed to do, so it wasn't all on the point guard," said Mitchell, the coach of No. 19 Kentucky, which will try to end its three-game losing skid when it plays South Carolina on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.

"A true point guard may have been able to cover some of that up, but it wasn't all on the point guard," he said. "There were a lot of people not doing what they're supposed to do."

Two games ago against the Razorbacks, UK made just 28.4 percent of its shots. Against Georgia on Sunday, the Cats made 29.5 percent of its shots.

UK also turned the ball over a season-high 24 times against UGA.

After the loss to the Bulldogs, UK's top players conceded the team was struggling offensively.

"There are moments on offense where we're just not all focused at the same time," senior Victoria Dunlap said.

Sophomore A'dia Mathies agreed.

"We have some good plays, and then there are other times where some people don't get the plays," she said. "It's something we've got to adjust and get right. ... We've just got to put the ball in the basket consistently."

Kentucky's schedule was no doubt a contributing factor to its offensive woes. The Cats played three games in six days — including two on the road against fellow ranked opponents.

Mitchell said UK is a team that thrives on repetition and individual instruction. Those things are difficult to come by when the games are so close together and the focus has to be on the next opponent.

The coach hopes that as the team eases into its much more predictable conference schedule, things will get better all around.

"We're off to a poor start in league play — not what we had wanted — but we've learned something about our team through the last week or so," he said, adding that practice this week has been much improved.

Being able to see the problems on video helped a lot, he said. It showed a lack of "people doing the little things to help you get some buckets," he said.

So the Cats have gone back to the basics in practice this week to help them get over their offensive woes.

"It was nothing really major," he said. "We have to get better at offensive execution. We had a lot of people standing. We don't set screens very well, just a lot of fundamental breakdowns."

The lack of offensive execution overall has taken its toll on Dunlap, whom Mitchell noted had six turnovers against Georgia because she's trying to do too much.

"Victoria needs some help from her teammates; she needs some help from her coach," he said. "She's not playing up to her capability because she's trying to force things, but she's trying to do that because the people around her aren't making things happen. She can't do it all by herself."

Mitchell to be dad again

The UK coach was so deep into planning for his team's game with South Carolina on Thursday that he didn't stop to think about the repercussions of doing what his wife, Jenna, had asked.

So he re-Tweeted her message that the couple are expecting their first child in August.

"We've reached new depths in our life when we announce that on Twitter," he said jokingly. "I really didn't think that through. So now my Twitter box is just full with congratulatory messages."

Mitchell has a daughter Lacy, a student at Mississippi State, from a previous marriage.

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