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Women start with target afixed to backs

For the ladies, this will be a totally different experience.

As the women's basketball team begins its season, expectations are raised -- and that's a good thing. In addition to an infusion of fresh talent and the stability of returning standouts, opposing coaches and the media have begun to take notice of the job coach Mickie DeMoss is doing, slotting the Wildcats at No. 16 in the first ESPN/Coaches poll.

I have long said that in the basketball-crazy Bluegrass, where Kentucky girls have been making key contributions to NCAA powerhouses at Purdue, Tennessee and Western Kentucky for years, there is no reason that the state University shouldn't have an NCAA championship-caliber squad. All they needed was the right coach.

It sure looks like they got her in DeMoss.

Making the step from also-ran to surprise is the easy part. Building from surprise to contender takes much more effort, concentration and consistency. Do the Wildcat women have what it takes? Only time will tell.

One thing is certain, though. They won't be sneaking up on anyone this time around.