By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky junior guard Bria Goss is one of the most versatile players on coach Matthew Mitchell’s team that is expected once again to contend for a Southeastern Conference championship. She has played in 71 games and is known for her teancious defense (she took a team-high 20 charges last yer) and ability to score in transition. She’s one of five McDonald’s All-Americans on the team (and a former Indiana Miss Basketball), and didn’t flinch when Mitchell asked her to give up a starting role to come off the bench in the final 14 games last season. She improved her scoring average from 8.4 points per game as a starter to 9.0 as a reserve.
Goss, who was the Southeastern Conference freshman of the year in 2012, shot a team-high .843 percent from the free-throw line and had the fourth-most double-figure scoring games for UK last year with 17.
She offered her insights on offseason workouts, team expectations, her role, coach Matthew Mitchell and more during this preseason interview:
Question: What was your summer like?
Goss: “It was great. I went home in May to spend some time with family and friends. Came back here and got to work four days a week at 6 o’clock in the morning. Blood, sweat and tears out on the football field. Just a lot of team bonding, lot of closeness. I also took two four-week classes, Spanish 201 and Spanish 202.”
Question: What does the UK women’s basketball team do on the football field?
Goss: “We did a little bit of everything. We will do anything from running to pushing the sleds and tires to carrying big 45-pound weights across the field to anything. It was a little bit different. We had a new head of athletics trainer. It is similar things, just different format. It helped our strength and endurance, but also helped the team togetherness. One person could not do that by themselves on the sled. You needed three or four. We would go home sore every day, tired. But we now have a different mindset about playing every play.”
Question: Looking back, how do you explain the easy transition you made from starter to reserve, especially since you might be first player ever to raise her scoring average coming off the bench?
Goss: “It was where the team needed me to be I felt like. Some things were not working offensively or defensively, but once he did his five in, five out I had to be that scorer on that second five. It worked. I really can’t remember how I thought it would work because I was angry at myself. I felt like I had lost a spot. I talked to my dad and he said I could not think like that but to see how I could benefit from it, so that’s what I did.”
Question: Since you have played 71 games at UK now, how has that experience changed you on and maybe even off the court?
Goss: “It has changed a lot of things. When I first got here, I had no discipline when it came to time management. Now I am perfect. I was here early for this interview. Just being disciplined and taking care of my responsibilities. Coach Mitchell is always on us about social media and how that changes. People look up to us and what we write on there, so I just feel older, more mature. It has been a natural progression.”
Question: While your wins at UK have been impressive, have you had to adjust to even an occasional loss since you almost never lost in high school when your team won 105 of 108 games, including 81 in a row?
Goss: “I only lost three games in high school. I lost two in postseason and one regular season. That regular season loss, I was right back in the gym and that’s how I do it here. That’s the way to look at it like, ‘I should not have missed that shot. Go work on it.’ That is what I do. I am a competitor and never like to lose and will do whatever it takes to win. Even being in that first five with all the scoring tools we had, I needed to pick up on the defensive end and that’s what I did. Whatever it takes to win, I will take those reins. I can’t win every time, but I definitely learn from every loss.”
Question: Do folks back home in Indiana actually now wear blue and cheer for Kentucky or is that still a no-no in Indiana?
Goss: “My family is not even from Indiana. We are from Atlanta originally, so they put on blue and are proud. I have a bunch in Atlanta that could be Georgia fans rooting for me. Now my friends in Indiana, they have trouble wearing blue. My best friend is actually the worst. They will come to a game, but that’s it. I have learned to deal with it, and they haven’t even gotten better during my career.”