UK Hoops’ shooting guards slumping


UK’s Carly Morrow shoots against Ole Miss at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010. Photo by Scott Hannigan

UK head coach Matthew Mitchell needs his two-guard to play like she’s No.1.

“I think, right now, our two position needs to be a little bit more productive,” Mitchell said. “If we could really get to firing at that two position with Carly (Morrow), Rebecca (Gray), Keyla (Snowden) or a combination of those three, I think our offense could be a lot better.”

After UK’s (21-4, 9-3 Southeastern Conference) first defeat in eight games at the hands of Vanderbilt on Sunday, it seems clear that stellar defense alone can’t win every game. UK sputtered to 55 points against the Commodores, well below its season average of almost 76 per game. The Cats struggled to attack the Commodores’ zone defense and were unable to knock down several 3-pointers.

The Vanderbilt box score was particularly cringe-worthy for UK’s trio of shooting guards: Gray finished with three points on 1-of-9 shooting, Snowden with four points on 2-of-3 shooting and Morrow with zero points on 0-of-3 shooting.

“(The offensive woes) can’t last forever,” Gray said with the typical swagger of many shooters. “Our confidence is fine…we’ve just got to focus on making shots and have confidence in ourselves that they’ll fall.”

But even before the Vanderbilt game, Mitchell was aware UK’s offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders. He admitted as much after the Cats’ defense-oriented win over Georgia last week.

During UK’s eight-game win streak, junior Victoria Dunlap and freshman A’dia Mathies shouldered most of the offensive responsibility, which overshadowed the lack of offensive production from UK’s other players.

Sophomores Gray and Snowden averaged 4.6 and 3.8 points per game, respectively, during the win streak. Morrow, a junior starter, has arguably struggled the most, averaging 3.5 points per game during the win streak. For the season, Morrow is shooting 28 percent from beyond the arc. Mitchell said he still has confidence in Morrow’s ability, adding that although she hasn’t made bundles of 3-pointers, she has made timely 3-pointers, especially in road games against Mississippi State and Louisiana State.

The better news for UK is the shooting guards’ offensive troubles haven’t affected their defensive play.

“(Morrow’s) struggling a little bit right now. She’s always been a little bit of a streaky shooter,” Mitchell said. “The thing that helps Carly is she is so solid defensively, and generally, there’s a higher value placed in our program on the defensive end.”

Morrow views her offensive and defensive responsibilities as completely different basketball spheres.

“You can’t let a slump get you down because defense wins ball games,” Morrow said. “We’ve got to stay focused on our defense no matter what else is going on.”

To help the guards get their shots back, Mitchell said he wants the team to recommit itself to Victoria Dunlap and the inside game. Gray already has her own hunch about the key to turning around the cool shooting.

“Usually for shooters it’s just a matter of one play,” Gray said. “It’s going to happen, the only part that’s missing from this team is the consistent play from the two.”