When the story of the UKHOOPS 2011-2012 Season is written, people are going to ask what happened at the end. They are going to want to know why UK fell. And when the question is asked there can be only one answer, execution. No, they were not executed on the court, they could not execute their game. When the chips were down, they could not make open shots, and they could not take advantage of opportunities. Oh, they had a great year. That should not be discounted. However the transition they wanted to make was just within their grasp, and it slipped away. And short of pointing fingers, there is one player that UK always turns to when they are in need, A'dia Mathies. And tonight, she just couldn't answer the call.
More after the jump.Don't get me wrong, I don't lay the blame all on Mathies shoulders. But this team looks to her to be there when they need the big basket, or they need the big stop. Tonight against UCONN, she just could not get herself where she needed to be. Be it UCONN defense, or just not being able to get into the flow of the game, or not finding her way, she just was a complete non-factor in a game where UK needed her to lead.
Going in at halftime, UK trailed by 2 on a run out with the clock expiring. that was the last time UK saw UCONN's tail lights. Hats off to UCONN, which turned a game in which they were beaten into a win. UK had their number, had them rattled and in foul trouble, and they just slipped away. Kentucky never quit hustling, they never quit playing, they quit executing. A'dia Mathies was nowhere to be found when she was needed most. This game was one half of bliss, the other half of blister. Blistering of UK by UCONN that is. In the second half, UCONN spent a full 10 minutes on the FT line, and by the time UK realized how many FT's UCONN had made, it was too late to correct. And when they tried to over-correct the problem, and start the haphazard play that is characteristic of UK's defense, UCONN already had adjusted and was off to the races, pounding the boards, and preventing UK from getting any 2nd chance points, a staple of the Wildcat diet.
I am not going to get into all the stats, because frankly, they make me angry. But I will say this. I have truly enjoyed doing these games the last half of this year, and this has been some kind of a season for UK and Coach Matthew Mitchell. UK will come back from this, and they will come back stronger and smarter. For now, UK is the SEC Champion, they made it to the Elite Eight, and they played way over their heads, thanks to a game plan and a strategy from Matthew Mitchell. UK lacked size and they lacked a true inside presence, and those things should rectify themselves next season. So, the final score was UK65- UCONN 80. Ladies, you earned my respect this season, and the respect of a big part of the BBN. I already loved the UKHOOPS team before this, I have said so on many occasions. This year I became a true fan. I have watched the ins and outs of this squad, and I can honestly say that they are only going to get better. A Final Four appearance next season will not just be a goal, it will be an expectation, much like their male counterparts.
I hope that next year will bring more and more of the UKHOOPS coverage to A Sea Of Blue. Those of us who participated this season were not disappointed, as the women played their backsides off at every turn. I will bring you season stats and a complete wrap-up after the men cut down the nets in Blue Orleans and the dust settles. So, for tonight, and from myself and a small group of dedicated fans, it's been wonderful, and thanks for reading.
For those of you needing to feed your stat fetish: Here you go.