#17 Kentucky Women's Basketball Preview

Kentucky Wildcats

Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank: #4 SEC
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Kentucky Team Page

The Kentucky women’s basketball program has long played in the shadows of the legendary men’s basketball program. But since the arrival of Matthew Mitchell from Morehead State and playing in the more intimate and home court friendly setting of Memorial Coliseum, that shadow is becoming smaller and smaller. The Wildcats have grown into a Top 20 program that can compete with anyone in the country. Last year they won 25 games, went 13-2 at home and made a run into the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to North Carolina. In 2011-12, they return a small yet very experienced squad.

2010-11: 25-9, 11-5
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matthew Mitchell (86-49 at Kentucky, 116-78 overall)

Who’s Out:
Victoria Dunlap is the only starter lost from last year’s squad. She did it all for the Wildcats. She led the team in scoring with 17 points per contests and averaged 8.7 boards. So Dunlap’s dynamic presence, missing from a team that is not the biggest height-wise in the SEC, presents an interesting challenge for Kentucky as they attempt to compensate for her departure.

Who’s In:
Samarie Walker, a sophomore transfer from UCONN, will be eligible after the fall semester. She will provide valuable height down in the post. As it stands now, Kentucky projects to play as many as four guards in its starting lineup. Denesha Stallworth is another 6-3 post player who transferred from Cal. She will sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules. Freshman wise, the Wildcats bring in two players in the top 50 of the College Sports Madness recruit list. Bria Goss should bring a high level of intensity and energy to the Wildcat backcourt while Azia Bishop, a 6-2 post player, possesses the speed that is going to make her an interesting challenge for opposing teams to deal with as she gains experience and acclimates to the college game. With the veterans, neither will need to be the savior right away and they will have time to develop within the Kentucky system.

Who to Watch:
Keyla Snowden shot 38 percent from behind the three point arc last season, so she will be key in igniting the Wildcat offense to take the load off of preseason all SEC conference guard A’dia Mathies.   Mathies is the leading returning scorer for Kentucky and is the leader of this squad without question. Amber Smith, returns to the point guard position after losing it last season due to a knee injury. She brings extensive experience and maturity as a grad student to the table as well

Final Projection:
The out of conference schedule is highlighted with home games against Louisville and Duke, which will be played at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats finished 11th nationally in attendance thus the home court will continue to be a huge weapon in 2011-12. There is plenty of experience, however the lack of experience in the post will be an interesting storyline to follow in the preseason heading into SEC play. But look for the Wildcats to make plenty of noise in the SEC race and have another 20 plus win season and be a dangerous sleeper come NCAA tournament time if everything falls into place in the frontcourt.  

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
A’dia Mathies, Junior, Guard, 12.8 PPG
Keyla Snowden, Senior, Guard, 9.6 PPG
Bernisha Pinkett, Redshirt Sophomore, Guard, 7.0 PPG
Amber Smith, Senior, Point Guard, 9.2 PPG
Brittany Henderson, Junior, Forward, 5.1 PPG

Madness 2011 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#26 Bria Goss
#46 Azia Bishop