The SEC Women's Tournament is generally considered one of the toughest in all of college basketball, and this year 5 ranked teams are looking to win that trophy while simultaneously improving their seeding for the NCAA tournament. Kentucky, who had numerous stumbles at the start of SEC play, has pulled off a stunning end to their regular season with a six win streak that included 3 wins over ranked foes, two of which were on the road. So where do the Cats go from here?
The Cats had to pay for those earlier inexplicable losses at Auburn and Ole Miss, and it cost them the double bye at the Tourney. If they get past LSU today, they will move on to face a fresh-legged Florida team. Get past the Gators, and UK gets to face the top rated South Carolina Gamecocks. If they pull all of that off, they'll be in the Championship game, and on their fourth game in as many days. Impossible? No. Difficult. Absolutely!
LSU's win over Tennessee moved them up from last place in the league to 13th place, and their late game rally over Alabama Wednesday has the Tigers feeling confident. How can the Cats pull off the victory today?
- Aggressive Defense. LSU this year is not the LSU we've come to know and
despiserespect, but Nikki Fargas is an incredible coach, and has this young team playing their best basketball going into the post-season. Don't let the 10-20 overall record fool you, this is still an SEC team with SEC quality players. They seem to have finally found their rhythm after Fargas dismissed Danielle Ballard back in June by building the team around incoming freshman Alexis Hyder and veterans Akilah Bethel and Raigyne Moncrief. The renewed focus on defense is what brought Kentucky their 6 game win streak, and we can't back off on it at all in Jacksonville.
- Effective Offense, and that includes making the bunnies. (I'm afraid to ever drop the bunnies reminder after that delightful 1-10 start against A&M on Sunday.) One of the best things about the Cats' win in College Station was how well the entire team contributed on offense. Four players had double-digit performances, and Janee Thompson and Taylor Murray were darned close at 8 points each. If we can continue to spread our offense that well, we have a serious shot of making it to Championship Sunday.
- Smart Ball Management. After a nice reduction in turnovers of late, the Cats had sixteen against A&M. We simply cannot have that many self-inflicted wounds this week.
- No injuries. That 2 minutes when Makayla Epps was on the court clutching her knee took at least 5 years off this writer's life.
- Have fun. This season is rapidly drawing to a close, and you want to send your team heartbeat Janee Thompson out in serious style. Making it to the Championship game is a good way to start.
The other bit that stinks about drawing a 5 seed? The early games are all on when most fans are working! For those of you lucky enough to take time out of the day to enjoy a little feline on feline mayhem, the game is on the SEC Network at approximately 2:30 PM EST.
Until Gametime, Cat fans - GO BIG BLUE!!!