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Kentucky Wildcats: Getting To The Next Level in Women's Basketball

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Have Kentucky and Matthew Mitchell finally climbed the ladder? Does UK now have a top tier team? Or will this be another season that we inch closer without grabbing the brass ring?

Is this the year the Matthew Mitchell gets his seat at the table?
Is this the year the Matthew Mitchell gets his seat at the table?

Baylor, UCONN, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee, Duke. These are the names of the elite in women's college basketball. They are there every year, waiting for someone to try and take their crown. Baylor is new to the group, but they are right now the most powerful. Will they remain? Ask me again in a year or two. The question remains, however, where is Kentucky in all of this?

Well, Saturday at noon we will get some of that answer. Kentucky faces arguably the best pure shooter in the country in the person of Elena Delle Donne. She has Brittany Griner height, Skylar Diggins shooting, and throws in some ball handling skills to boot. If she were surrounded by a deeper supporting cast, she would be giving Griner a harder run for Player of the Year. Delle Donne is just smooth. She moves gracefully, has a smile that can launch 1,000 ships, and plays the game like a true competitor. For Kentucky to continue the climb, they have to get over Delle Donne.

Should the Cats accomplish that feat, well, they will probably have to face UCONN next. The same team that removed them from last year's Tourney. UCONN is deep, loaded with talent, and they don't make a lot of mistakes. They figured out the UK press early last year and make Kentucky pay every chance they got, mostly inside. Kentucky's tool chest this year is much more varied, and better equipped. With the inside play of Stallworth, Bishop, Walker, and Drake; Kentucky now has a formidable front line against any opponent. Can they put that to work against the likes of UCONN? They had better, assuming they use it properly against Delaware.

I have assessed the women's program on several occasions this season, each time giving them a glowing review, and each time getting my tail caught in a crack as they laid a huge egg the very next game. Will that happen again? Kentucky really cannot afford for it to. Right now, the program is being assessed as a second tier destination for the top recruits in the country. We are losing players to Tennessee, UCONN, and the like, because they are getting the name recognition, and they are backing it up with performance. There is not a bigger name in college basketball than Kentucky. It's name is easily recognizable all over the world. Now all we need to do is put that performance behind it. Now is the time, this is the place. We have excellent talent from the first name on the roster to the last. Everyone on this team contributes, we play as a team no matter what we are doing.

Is it time for Kentucky to join the party and make a place for the women alongside the men in the history of the sport? I think so. I think this team knows it to. All they have to do is go get it.