Hoops fix filled by women’s basketball



Column by Timothy Kroboth

Hey, may I ask you a few UK basketball trivia questions?

Which UK basketball player wears No. 34 and is a legitimate All-Southeastern Conference candidate? No, it’s definitely not DeAndre Liggins.

Which UK basketball player wears No. 1, earned recognition as the best high school basketball player in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and is still a starter? No, it can’t be Darius Miller.

Which current UK basketball head coach is not named John Calipari?

If you paid attention during ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast from Rupp Arena, you may have learned from Coach Cal that the other UK basketball head coach is Matthew Mitchell.

But can I safely assume UK women’s basketball junior star forward Victoria Dunlap and freshman guard A’dia Mathies did not immediately come to mind?

Judging by the sparse sprinkling of UK students in the Memorial Coliseum crowds at home games this season, including UK’s 16-point win over No.19 Georgia this past Thursday, the UK women’s basketball team is one of the best-kept secrets on campus. Students pack Memorial Coliseum for ticket lotteries and student-only practices, but they don’t show up for women’s basketball games.

As for Thursday’s win, Mitchell’s Cats have claimed eight straight SEC victories en route to a 9-2 conference record and sole possession of second place in the SEC standings behind only coaching legend Pat Summit’s Tennessee Volunteers. Overall, the Cats have posted a stellar 21-3 record and risen to No. 17 in the Associated Press rankings. Where have you been?

You may have participated in the recent outcry against the current student ticket lottery system for UK men’s basketball home games. However, why rant against the ticket lottery’s great injustice when you do not capitalize on opportunities to attend UK women’s basketball games?

You reply, “Why on earth would I want to go to a women’s basketball game?”

Why not?

Comparing AP rankings, Mitchell’s Cats trail Cal’s No. 3 Cats by only 14 positions and with the new poll coming out this week, that gap will likely shrink.

Mitchell’s Cats have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the women’s college basketball world.

You are skeptical. “They may be relatively good for a women’s college basketball team,” you say. “But come on, Tim. It’s women’s basketball. Their quality of play cannot be that good.”

Don’t be too sure. Although Mitchell’s Cats may not be the best jump-shooting team you will see, Dunlap’s rebounding and inside offensive skills, which have garnered averages of over 17 points and 8 rebounds per game, may surprise you.

The lightning-quick Mathies, averaging nearly 13 points and 2.5 steals per game, offers glimpses of uncanny athleticism and creativity as she darts into the lane for a basket.

And if nothing else, Mitchell’s Cats’ all-out hustle and suffocating team defense is impressive.

“That almost sounds interesting,” you respond. “But isn’t women’s basketball boring?”

As I watched the Cats soundly beat the No. 19 Georgia Bulldogs, “boring” was far from my mind. Their all-out effort on the court inspired a raucous crowd that filled Memorial Coliseum with contagious energy.

“But going to women’s basketball games definitely isn’t cool,” you protest.

Judging by their recent appearances to watch Mitchell’s Cats in person, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Scott Padgett don’t think so. Are you too cool for Wall, Cousins and Padgett?

Looking for a loophole, you reply, “Doesn’t Cousins wear weird Eskimo hats and Peter Parker glasses? I am pretty sure I am cooler than him.”

Listen, I can’t make you go to the remaining women’s basketball games against Florida and South Carolina.

But why not try putting aside your bias against female athletes for a night?

If UK is a true basketball school, its students should support their nationally ranked basketball team, regardless of athletes’ gender.