UK Hoops returns key components


UK guard A’dia Mathies goes for the layup against Bellarmine University at Memorial Coliseum on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Photo by Scott Hannigan

Just because the UK women’s basketball team didn’t cut down the nets to conclude the 2009-2010 season, doesn’t mean it didn’t finish the season with a lot of hardware.

UK Hoops’ slogan this season is, “Can you hear us now?” With all the awards the team won after last season the team is certainly being heard.

In the Southeastern Conference the Cats pulled the trifecta for awards to conclude the season.

UK head coach Matthew Mitchell led the Cats to the most successful season in school history. He led UK to its first Elite Eight appearance since 1982, and had the most wins in school history with 28. UK also went undefeated at home. All those accolades garnered Mitchell the SEC Coach of the Year.

UK’s improved season was led by then junior forward Victoria Dunlap. She excelled for the Cats, averaging 18.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. Those numbers earned her the SEC Player of the Year award. She was also an Associated Press and United States Basketball Writers Association All-American.

Dunlap isn’t going to forget the team’s memorable year but she plans on moving forward.

“We aren’t going to forget about it but we have to realize that it was last year and we can use that as motivation for this year,” Dunlap said.

UK basketball was known for its dazzling freshman last season. While John Wall is the first to come to mind, the women’s team boasted its own quality guard. A’dia Mathies’ first year in collegiate basketball she averaged 13.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game. She was UK’s first freshman All-American since 1980.

But when Mathies looks back on last season, she’s appreciative of her success.

“I didn’t know what to expect in the transition from high school to college,” Mathies said. “I was fortunate to have a good year last year and I am grateful for it.”

While all three award winners will be back for the Cats this season, their accomplishments from last season haven’t been forgotten. Mitchell has the Cats No. 9 in the preseason rankings while both Dunlap and Mathies have been named to the 2010-2011 Naismith preseason watch list. The Naismith is an award given to college basketball’s player of the year.

While awards and expectations won’t directly translate to wins, it shows the program is one that demands respect. If the trio can match last season’s numbers, this season’s results could be more of the same.