By LARRY VAUGHT
When Kentucky plays at Georgia tonight, coach Matthew Mitchell says his team might be close to full strength. Not at full strength, but close and that is a big step forward for this team that is short-handed even when at full strength.
“I think that we have a chance to be full strength as we head into the final weeks of the season and that is a real blessing to where we have been. I don’t know if people realize that Taylor Murray has been playing with a broken finger and one-handed for over half of the conference season,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “I mean, it is amazing what she has been able to do with one hand.
“We have had different illnesses. The flu really hit UK in general with the student body and athletic department and our team. We have had a lot of physical issues and I am really proud of where we are right now because with our relative lack of depth we have handled it well.
“Jessica Hardin (concussion) seems to be progressing back towards the floor. So it would be great for us to be healthy down the stretch, every coach would love for that to happen. But we have a chance right now and we just have to keep going out there every day and hustling and playing hard and if you are full strength at the end of the season good for you and keep going. But we are doing OK right now and hopefully it can stay that way.”
Mitchell thinks despite the physical problems his team has endured, it still is ready for a big finish starting with tonight’s game against Georgia — a team UK has already beat but a team that has wins at Arkansas and at home over Tennessee in its last two games.
“I feel like everyone is still very, very hungry to be the best that this team can be. If we can continue to improve and we can continue to win some games, that is going to give us an opportunity to be our best in the postseason,” Mitchell said.
“Our No. 1 goal coming into this year was to push it to the absolute limit to for whatever we can become. I don’t sense any wavering in that attitude. They still come to practice and have flaws and make mistakes, but just their overall attitude towards really trying to reach our goal of being the best we can be and seeing where that can take us. And we think that can take us a long way.
“That is what I am really pleased about is they don’t seem bored or tired or hit a wall or anything. We have had major rotation issues and depth issues and illness and injury and all these different things that could have knocked us back and they continue to show and attitude of improvement. That is what I like and you know our staff meeting this morning was very lively and our coaches are thinking about how we can get this team to improve. So that atmosphere right there is one that we need to keep so we can just become the best that we can be.”