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Will Mitchell’s press conference answer questions about Team Turmoil?

Matthew Mitchell is running out of players to hand the ball to. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Matthew Mitchell is running out of players to hand the ball to. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

With all the recent turmoil that has hit the Kentucky women’s basketball program, it reminded me of a conversation I had with assistant coach Camryn Whitaker before UK played Washington in the NCAA Tournament.

She was a standout player at Harrison County High School and then Western Kentucky University. She joined the UK program just over a year ago and I wondered what a year with coach Matthew Mitchell had been like.

“It has been great. He is so energetic. Our team really feeds off that and I know I do. I have learned so much from him. He knows how to win and that has been really exciting for me,” said Whitaker.

Winning next year, though, could be a lot, lot harder than what it has been because of both player and coach defections. As of today, Kentucky will have just eight scholarship players next season. That includes some top talent — seniors Evelyn Akhator and Makayla Epps along with sophomore Maci Morris and Taylor Murray.

Kentucky will have just one freshman — Chanin Scott — after Indianapolis standout Lindsay Corsaro, a McDonald’s All-American, was released from her scholarship Tuesday. A few days earlier commit Madison Treece, the 30th ranked player nationally in the 2017 recruiting class, reopened her recruitment.

Corsaro had agreed to an interview with me Monday night about her upcoming UK career but called it off because “UK coaches wanted her to wait until she got to campus.” When news came that she was being released from her scholarship by UK Tuesday, I contacted her again via email to see if she would talk.

“I’m sorry this has been very difficult and tonight probably is not good timing,” she replied.

That was a sentiment I totally understood. Her father told the Indianapolis Star that she was not ruling out UK but the uncertainty with the program made her decide to re-evaluate her options.

Sophomore Batouly Camara did more than that. After starting 14 games last season, she has opted to transfer. Remember, she had picked UK over UConn and was a top 10 recruit in some rankings.

Mitchell has also had one coach resign and another not rehired in the last few days. On Tuesday, Lexington Herald Leader beat reporter Jen Smith reported that former UK assistant Kyra Elzy would rejoin the team as associate head coach.

Have questions? Who doesn’t?

Mitchell has scheduled a press conference for 1:30 p.m. today. No word on whether it is mainly to announce Elzy’s return, but the coach has to know he’ll get a ton of questions about his program — and should. What answers will he give? I have no idea.

Speculation has been rampant. Many have wondered if players cannot get along with Mitchell. That reminded me of a question I asked Morris during the NCAA Tournament about if her father’s coaching/prodding had helped prepare her to play for Mitchell.

“My dad has definitely prepared me for how coach Mitchell has got on to me sometimes. I was joking with some of the coaches one day because coach Mitchell got on to me pretty hard and they wanted to know if I was okay. I said, ‘I am fine. This is nothing compared to how my dad will be,'” Morris said.

So maybe today we will get an explanation about the dysfunction in a program that has continued to win or maybe we will still have as many questions after the press conference as we do now.

6 comments

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  1. LindaS

    It surprises me how many fans don’t like Mitchell…I do. I hope it is not anything to do with how he acts with the players. I hope he is not ‘psycho’ and I can’t think of another word to use at this time other than that. I would have thought after the second girl left the AD might have gotten involved to see what was going on. Sometimes it seems like women’s sports does play second fiddle to the men…and then there is soccer, tennis, softball, baseball and the other sports who don’t seem to get love from the media…well, some of them don’t. Every student athlete deserves respect….it sounds like there may be some of that lacking in Lady Hoops…disgruntled players jealous of the treatment of others? It could be so many things and I hope it is minor. Some how I don’t think we will get the real reason for the departures of the players and assistant coaches. We will get some sugar coated reason that is suppose to pacify us. Dang, I hate saying that.

  2. Larry Pup

    IMO young women need to be coached by a woman who has played the game at the college level. Not implying anything, and no nothing about his program.

    1. Andy

      The UCON women’s basketball coach would beg to differ with your statement.

      1. Larry Pup

        Still don’t make it right in my eyes. Just saying. Let em coach men like Calipari does and hire women to coach women. Summit didn’t do to bad in her run.

  3. Theresa C

    Coaching young women is different than coaching young men…young women–girls, really– can be petty. Guys are not like that. A male coach has a hard time understanding and identifying that pettiness whereas a female coach would see it start and put a stop to it immediately. Pat Summitt would have nipped that in the bud in her locker room in a heartbeat. There is no room for quibbling about playing time or anything else–leave it all on the hardwood. It takes time for young women to mature and as freshmen and sophomores they simply are not there yet. Thus, the downward spiral. I think that Coach Mitchell is an excellent coach but how he handles this will shape this program for years to come. I am hopeful that bring Kyra Elzy back will be the start of good things.

    1. Larry Vaught

      Thanks for sharing that Theresa. Makes a lot of sense to me

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