By LARRY VAUGHT
Want to know why Kentucky has been able to have such a successful season with a young team and roster depleted by preseason defections?
Let Washington coach Mike Neighbors, who sends his team against Kentucky tonight in Rupp Arena, explain in baseball terms what UK coach Matthew Mitchell has done.
“I think Matthew’s done a really good job changing the depth, taking the pressure off full court all the time and becoming a really good half-court team when he needs to be, and I think that’s made them a lot harder to play against,” Neighbors said Thursday.
“Used to be you knew what you were going to get and he wasn’t going to change. Again, it’s like a pitcher just having a fastball. They used to have a fastball, and now he’s got a changeup, a curve, a slider. It’s not just Makayla Epps. Maci Morris can go 4 for 5 on you, if you spend too much attention on her, and if you get a body on those bigs, they’re going to both get double- doubles.
“And Janee Thompson, I’ve seen her play probably more than anybody in the SEC. We recruited a few of her teammates when I was coaching at Xavier. Just her steady and ability to be big when they needed her to be big.
“I think their role development with this team is probably as identifiable as any team of theirs I’ve seen in the last eight or nine years. I think they really, really have done a good job with the group they’ve got.”