UK Hoops notes with Matthew Mitchell

By Les Johns

The UK women’s basketball team (2-0) will face Northeastern University (0-2) from the Colonial Athletic Association Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum.  The Cats are coming off a historic 100-25 win Tuesday over Jacksonville State, in which they forced a program-record 48 turnovers.

Northeastern comes into the matchup with losses at home to Eastern Michigan 53-83 and Temple 58-72.

UK women’s basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell addressed the media Wednesday afternoon to reflect on the victory over Jacksonville State and the challenges to come.

  • Mitchell said the quick turn-around, with just one day in between games, will be a good challenge for the team and will help them prepare for the postseason tournament run that they are seeking. He said that the team could be satisfied with the record-breaking results from yesterday, but they should come to practice today ready to move forward.

    “I’m looking for a good focused effort in practice today,”  Mitchell said  “If we can do that day in and day out this is going to be a good basketball team.”

  • Mitchell said that the staff doesn’t stress statistics, but one stat they do look at closely is turnovers and points scored off turnovers.  According to Mitchell, the team goal in conference play will be 25 turnovers forced and 25 points scored off those turnovers.  Tuesday against Jacksonville State, the Cats forced 48 turnovers and converted them into 50 points.

    “Defense turning into offense is a good thing for our team, it’s something we need to focus on constantly,” Mitchell said   “Our identity as a basketball team and program will always start at the defensive side of the floor.”

  • The Cats shot 20-for-24 from the free-throw line against Jacksonville State, including 3-of-4 bank-shots from freshman Azia Bishop.

    “Twenty-for-24 from a team standpoint is outstanding,” said Coach Mitchell.  “If this team can shoot free-throws well we are going to be tough.”

    Mitchell was unsure if Bishop was intentionally banking her free throws.  “If she can shoot 75 percent banking them in,” Mitchell said that would be fine with him.  “If it’s working you don’t want to fool with it too much.”

  • Senior guard Crystal Riley won’t play Thursday and will likely be out another week or so, according to Mitchell, due to stress reaction in her right foot.

    “She is fantastic at getting the ball up and down and pushing the pace, so I am really going to be careful with her to make sure we get her back to full speed,” Mitchell said.