First off, I need to apologize. I am now seeing that doing anything in covering Women's Hoops is going to be almost impossible with my new schedule. So, if I can get it done, I am going to try and post a weekly column on their comings and goings with a mini postmortem/preview combination. It will not be anywhere close to comprehensive, but it will at least keep us involved with what's going on, so it is gonna be a shot in the dark until I figure out how to do this.
Over the last couple of days, the UK Hoops Squad has been pulling a heavy duty weekend that's every bit as difficult as the SEC conference schedule in it's peak.
The season kicked off with a road game of all things in a very hostile environment. "Mitchell's Minxes" as someone penned them as the other day, were at Marist for a game that was played at the same time the men were kicking off in the comfort of Rupp arena. Marist was not going to be taken lightly either, as they tried to grind it out with UK and forced the women to play tight at the start, running out to a 15-8 lead. Fortunately for themselves and Coach Mitchell, Kentucky was up to the task and came storming back to take a 13 point halftime lead. They only played Marist to a draw in the second half though, and added just a single point to that lead outscoring them 36-35. The Hoops Squad ended the game with a 75-61 hard fought victory.
Kastine Evans and Janee Thompson lead Kentucky with 15 and 13 points, respectively, and that is a great stat to hear, as it means that UK made outside shots when it counted. They came away with a 33.3 shooting % from the three. And a 46.3% overall from the field shooting 31-67. There were inside points as well, so the balance in scoring that Kentucky so desperately needs is beginning to develop early this season. The FT% is another matter all together. The Cats barely managed 50% from the charity stripe and are going to have to improve on that greatly if they expect to compete in the SEC and beyond.
On Sunday, however, a different story occurred. November 10th saw the Hoops Squad go to their veterans and established make-or-break players to get a crushing victory put on the books as Kentucky destroyed a Wagner women's team that frankly, did not belong on the court with UK. A 96-57 victory by the Cats put up the kinds of numbers that Hoops fans are much more accustomed to. Denesha Stallworth posted a double-double with 18 points and 13 boards, and Bria Goss and Jennifer O'Neill decided to get in on the party as well with 17 and 11 points of their own. The UK women used their trademark "40 Minutes of Dread" gameplan to post a lot of points and hold Wagner down to 38.7% shooting for the game while they posted just under 50% themselves. The game was never in question and the Seahawks were just no match for Kentucky's veteran players and overwhelming level of talent.
Next week, Wednesday is going to bring Georgia Southern to town for the Kentucky home opener at Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky and the Eagles tip off at 11AM, as the Georgia Southern women are coming off a tough loss at Auburn 69-59. The Lady Eagles play in the Southern Conference and Head Coach Chris Vozab, who came to GS from Dayton and the Lady Flyers staff last season, has herself a challenge ahead in making the Lady Eagles a Southern conference contender in the future as they only posted 6 conference wins last season, and 8 overall. Georgia Southern is lead by 5'9" Sr. PG Mimi DuBose. They are from Statesboro, GA. a small town close to Savannah, on the beautiful Atlantic coast region of the Peach state.
Sunday, it's Central Michigan at Memorial for UK as the Chippewas come to town fresh off crushing UMass 105-61 in their season opener, and they are picked to win not only the Mid-America Conference regular season but their conference tournament this year as well. The Chippewas will be the first real test for UK at home this season. They play tough defense, smart offense, and they are capable of competing with the Cats and Mitchell's "40 Minutes" defense. A 2:00PM start on Sunday will be the first televised contest for UK, and it should be a good one. Head Coach Sue Guevara is in her 6th season at the helm and has led the Central Michigan to post-season play the last three years consecutively with 2013 being their first year in the NCAA tourney under her tutelage.
Kentucky will have a hard week, but should escape this 4 game run undefeated and ready for a big Thanksgiving week when they will see Middle Tennessee State at Murfeesboro, the site of their last loss to the Blue Raiders.