UK Women's Basketball

Kentucky's wind-sprint penalty for turnovers was wearing on Goss

UK women's basketball team head shots for the 2011-12 season.
Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics
UK women's basketball team head shots for the 2011-12 season. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Please put 33 seconds on the clock.

It's the phrase that every Kentucky player dreads hearing from her coach at practice.

After Coach Matthew Mitchell says that phrase to a student trainer manning the clock, the players line up on the baseline and then proceed to run a suicide in 33 seconds or fewer.

Sometimes it's multiple suicides in a row, each in 33 seconds or less.

In an effort to cut down on his team's turnovers, Mitchell has put in a punishment of sorts for his sixth-ranked Wildcats.

For each time they go over 15 miscues in a game, the Cats have to run a wind sprint in 33 seconds.

So even though the Cats got a huge win over Tennessee last week, the next day the players had to run one suicide because they turned the ball over 16 times.

Same for after their big win over Georgia on Thursday night.

"They have to run even though they won," Mitchell said.

"It was 18 against South Carolina, so it was three suicides, and they really don't like that," he said two days before UK (17-2, 6-0 SEC) plays host to Florida on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum.

All the running might be part of the reason Kentucky leads the nation in turnover margin (plus-12.3).

But Mitchell didn't realize that the threat of running had weighed heavily on one player.

After her 0-for-6 performance against South Carolina, Mitchell asked freshman Bria Goss if she were OK.

She explained that when Southeastern Conference play started and he put in the turnover rule, she started to stress about every turnover she had.

Goss didn't want to be the reason her teammates had to run even more.

"I took it as I need to be more careful with the ball, go out and not make mistakes," she said.

He told Goss that it wasn't her that he was targeting, that it was the careless turnovers by the entire team.

"You need to really go back to being assertive," he said he told Goss, who responded by scoring a career-best 22 points at Georgia. "And you need to have a killer instinct, a killer mentality. That's what she is. She can just go get you some buckets."

Knowing that she didn't have to be perfect every possession made Goss feel better, she said.

"He helped me get my confidence back," the freshman said. "(Thursday) I felt a lot more comfortable, like he had a lot more faith in me. My teammates helped me out a whole lot to get my confidence back."

It seems funny that running suicides would even be much of a threat to hang over a team that runs as much in a game as UK.

Goss described conditioning this summer where the team would run so much that "your whole body goes numb."

But it doesn't mean they want to run extra, especially after a win.

The freshman guard admitted that being in such good shape has been a benefit at the end of games, though.

"We run a lot, but we're trying to use that as one of our advantages, to be in really good condition so if things aren't going so well, we can wear another team down," she said.

O'Neill likely to redshirt

It's looking less likely that guard Jennifer O'Neill will be getting on the floor for Kentucky this season.

The sophomore, who had a foot surgically repaired before the season started, probably will redshirt this season, Mitchell said Friday.

"The hopes of her playing are growing dimmer for the year," he said. "I don't think Jennifer's going to play this year, but it's not totally ruled out and we haven't made a final decision."

UK-Florida sold out

Tickets for Sunday's Kentucky-Florida game in Memorial Coliseum have all been sold, UK announced Friday. The Cats are averaging 6,015 fans at home, second in the SEC and 13th in the nation.

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