UK Women's Basketball

UK women refuse to give in to complacency

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

Humble and hungry.

It's a phrase Kentucky's players have heard from their coach so often at practice that they're all starting to use it in their own discussions with the media.

So the Cats are aware that they are ranked No. 6 in the country and have five wins over ranked opponents this season.

The Cats are aware that they have won eight straight games midway through their Southeastern Conference schedule. The Cats are aware that they are in the league's metaphorical driver's seat.

They're also aware that their next two opponents at Memorial Coliseum — Alabama on Sunday and Mississippi on Thursday — are at the bottom of the conference standings.

But that hasn't changed anything, they said.

"We're not going to be complacent," junior Brittany Henderson said on Friday. "We don't take any team lightly in the SEC. Every team in the SEC is really physical, and we just come into every game with the same attitude that we're ready to play."

Matthew Mitchell knows his team could get complacent, set it on cruise control this week, but he said this group isn't built that way.

As Kentucky (19-2, 8-0 SEC) celebrates the 30th anniversary of the school's lone SEC women's basketball championship on Sunday as a part of Alumni Day activities, the current crop of Cats is reminded of the goal to not allow that title to be Kentucky's one and only.

"We are on a mission, and we are very confident in the team that we have," Mitchell said. "We can get a lot accomplished. Every win counts the same, and every loss counts the same. If we want to be the champions of this conference, which I think we are capable of being, we have to win games. I just don't think you're going to be able to lose very many games and accomplish that."

In typical coach form, he called this next game with the Crimson Tide (10-11, 0-7 SEC) the biggest game on UK's schedule.

"I don't think we've played a lot of games where we didn't respect our opponent," he said. "I don't have that trouble with this team. Sometimes, they lack focus — they're young kids, and they don't understand how important going as hard as they can every day is — but I don't think we have a group of kids that lacks respect for this league."

In hindsight, a loss at Middle Tennessee State in late December serves as a constant reminder that this team can lose any game, any night to anyone, coaches and players said.

And they don't want that to happen again against any opponent, senior Keyla Snowden said last week.

"After losing that game, we all just regrouped," Snowden said. "We give a lot of credit to (Middle Tennessee); they're a really good team. But, just playing at Kentucky, we know there are certain teams that we just shouldn't lose to."