With the regular season completed, the UK womenâ€™s basketball team (15-14, 5-9 Southeastern Conference) will need to win the SEC tournament to make the NCAA tournament. That hasnâ€™t deterred UK head coach Matthew Mitchell, who still believes â€œthis team has the capability of playing in the NCAA tournament.â€
One of the brightest spots for the Cats was sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap. Dunlap met expectations as a preseason second-team All-SEC player by leading the league with 9.1 rebounds per game and leading the Cats with 12.7 points per game. Senior center Eleia Roddy said Dunlapâ€™s play was â€œdefinitelyâ€ worthy of first-team All-SEC honors.
â€œItâ€™s just great to have her as a teammate, because it gives you extra confidence,â€ Roddy said. â€œI canâ€™t imagine what teams are facing when they have to face her.â€
In her fifth year with the Cats, Roddy became a force after overcoming major injuries earlier in her career. She led the conference with 11 double-doubles and was fourth in the conference with 8.3 rebounds per game. Dunlap said she thought Roddy also had a major impact as a team leader, and that her play was even more special in the wake of all her previous injuries.
Ironically, Roddy would be one of the more consistent players on the team this season. After beginning the season with just 11 players, the Cats numbers began to dwindle. Junior center Jackie Sanders was suspended from the team before transferring mid-season and junior forward Lydia Watkins was lost for the year for unspecified personal reasons before conference play began. Senior guard Carly Ormerod missed seven games before conference play with sesamoiditis and turf toe.
More recently, sophomore center Catina Bett was suspended for a violation of team rules. Mitchell said she is still considered day-to-day. All the losses culminated when the Cats dressed just seven players in a 57-56 loss to Louisiana State on Feb. 22. Roddy said she believes the team could have finished much higher in the SEC standings if the team stayed healthy. The Cats will enter the SECâ€ˆTournament as the 10th seed.
â€œWeâ€™d probably be in the third- or fourth-seeded position in the SEC,â€ Roddy said.