Most Recent Posts
- Goodwin getting “postive feedback” from workouts with various NBA teams
- Ohio twins will transfer from Pittsburgh to Kentucky
- Photo Gallery: Alex Poythress at Camp Cal
- Ohio RB Mikel Horton did all he could to help convince Georgia RB Boom Williams to commit to UK
- Boom Willams expects to make impact returning punts, kickoffs
- UK commit Stanley Williams ready to bring the “Boom” to Kentucky football
- Calipari uses Twitter to explain Kentucky’s recruiting success
- Longtime sports writer Joey Fosko dies from apparent heart attack
By LARRY VAUGHT
Just in case you were wondering, here are the SEC coaches who were present for the announcement Thursday about the new SEC Network. Is there anything to read into who was there, or not there? You decide.
SEC coaches in attendance: Arkansas men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson, Georgia swim coach Jack Bauerle, Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema, Arkansas men’s cross-country coach Chris Bucknam, Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan, Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin, Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze, Missouri men’s basketball coach Frank Haith, Auburn swimming coach Brett Hawke, Texas A&M track and cross-country coach Pat Henry, Auburn soccer coach Karen Hoppa, Tennessee football coach Butch Jones, Ole Miss men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy, Georgia women’s basketball coach Andy Landers, Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn, Tennessee men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, LSU football coach Les Miles, Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell, Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen, Florida football coach Will Muschamp, Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel, Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Ray, Georgia football coach Mark Richt, Alabama football coach Nick Saban, South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, Vanderbilt men’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings, Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops, Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin, Auburn women’s basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy and Florida volleyball coach Mary Wise.
By UK Media Relations
Former Women’s National Basketball Association assistant coach Jeff House has been hired as an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky women’s basketball program, UK head coach Matthew Mitchell announced Wednesday. House comes to Kentucky after spending 10 years in the professional ranks, including the last two seasons with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. During his 27-year career path, he has coached 19 WNBA All-Stars and major award winners along with four Olympians.
“I am excited that Jeff House is joining our staff at Kentucky,” Mitchell said. “He and I share a vision for this program that is based on the principles of honesty, hard work and discipline. He, his wife Ann and children Elizabeth and Tom are a wonderful family and we are proud that they now become part of our UK Hoops family. His years of experience at the highest levels of professional and college basketball will benefit the growth of our program greatly. I am thrilled that Jeff is a Kentucky Wildcat.”
“In the basketball world there are a handful of really special places and Kentucky is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when people talk about special places to coach or play,” House said. “It’s thrilling and humbling to be on a campus like this and at a university like this. I’m looking forward to working with this amazing staff, our student-athletes and being a part of the Big Blue Nation.”
After seven seasons with the New York Liberty and one year as the top assistant coach with the Washington Mystics, House joined the college ranks serving as the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at Virginia under Debbie Ryan from 2005-2009. As the program’s recruiting coordinator his recruiting classes were No. 10 (2008), No. 3 (2009) and No. 14 (2010) nationally by multiple national services, including Blue Star Report, All-Star Girl’s Report and Collegiate Girl’s Basketball Report. House recruited and helped develop Monica Wright, who was chosen by the Minnesota Lynx as the second overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft. He also played a role in recruiting 2009 WNBA draft picks Aisha Mohammed (Minnesota) and Lyndra Littles (Connecticut) and 2008 draft pick Sharnee Zoll (Los Angeles Sparks).
With the New York Liberty, House was instrumental in the team’s 1999, 2000 and 2002 WNBA Eastern Conference Championship titles. Under his tutelage the Liberty made four appearances in the Eastern Conference Championship series, three appearances in the WNBA Finals and he coached in three WNBA All-Star games. House initially joined the Liberty in 1998 as the video coordinator and advance scout after spending the 1997-98 season as a member of the New York Knicks video staff.
“Being in the WNBA I was able to see what Coach Mitchell has done for Kentucky,” House said. “I came to practice here a few years ago to evaluate Victoria Dunlap and other players, and to see him take this program from where it was to now have it knocking on the door of being a national champion is really, really special. For me and my family to now be a small part of it is even more special.”
House played basketball at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y., before suffering a career-ending injury. He immediately jumped into the coaching realm, beginning his coaching career at McQuaid Jesuit High School also in Rochester while he was an undergraduate. At McQuaid, he served as an assistant to former Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy in 1985. In 1986, House was a key component to McQuaid’s run to the Class B, Section 5 New York State Championship.
House spent tadecade honing his skills as an assistant men’s coach, including four seasons (1988-91) at the University of Lowell as an assistant to former Miami Heat and Orlando Magic head coach and current ESPN analyst Stan Van Gundy. He also spent two seasons at Jacksonville University as an assistant coach with Matt Kilcullen and following the receipt of his master’s degree, four seasons (1992-96) as an assistant coach at Rutgers University during its transition into the Big East Conference with Bob Wenzel. While at Rutgers, House served as head coach for the 1995 People-to-People Sports Holland All-Star Tour. He directed a combination of Big East, Atlantic 10 and Big Ten All-Stars to a 6-1 record, losing only to Holland’s national champions.
House, 47, has been a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches for 26 years and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association for the last 15 years. He currently serves as president and on-court director of House’s HOOP Headquarters, a basketball skills and development company he created in 1996. In 2009, House also founded AllBasketballReview.com, a coaching, player and parent resource for all aspects of basketball development.
House has always been an active member in the community. From 2001-09, he helped executive director Ben D’Alessadro run a Virginia 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Virginia Basketball Academy, whose mission is to build character and shape lives through the game of basketball. The organization services over 1,000 boys and girls year-round in the Charlottesville area, providing skill and character development through a wide range of programming. In 2010, House helped establish the Junior Basketball League a boys and girls league for grades 1-4, as well as the Virginia Developmental Basketball League for boys and girls in grades 5-8. These leagues currently have nearly 80 teams participating.
While in New York, House worked closely with the Cheering For Children Foundation and The After School Corporation. He has also served as a regional presenter and coaching instructor for the New Jersey Special Olympics. House participated with the WNBA Read to Achieve program and the Junior WNBA/NBA coaching clinics and is a frequent speaker and volunteer for numerous charitable functions.
House and his wife Ann Leonard-House, the former head women’s volleyball coach at UMass-Lowell and Rutgers, have two children – daughter Elizabeth and son Thomas.
If you haven’t seen this skit performed at UK’s Catspys last night, it’s a must-see. Many thanks to KSTV for providing this video.
By LARRY VAUGHT
CHICAGO — After she failed to make the USA Basketball tryout roster, Marion County’s Makayla Epps figured she had no chance to be a McDonald’s All-American.
“I thought maybe I just wasn’t good enough and when I did get picked, it meant so much to me. Knowing I get this opportunity means the world to me,” said Epps.
She’s here now to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game Wednesday (7 p.m. on ESPNU) at the United Center.
“I know a lot of the players. I have seen them in AAU tournaments and their names are real big out there,” Epps said. “You have players on North Carolina, Duke and Notre Dame. I am going to be out there with the best of the best. It is exciting.
“Just the game itself at the United Center is special. Derrick Rose (of the Chicago Bulls) is my favorite player, so I will be out there playing where he played at. Then going to the Ronald McDonald House was a great thing to do, too.”
Epps, a 5-10 point guard led Marion to a perfect 39-0 record and Marion’s first state tournament title in eight appearances. Epps averaged a team-high 23.0 points, 5.5 assists, 4.3 steals and 5.5 rebounds per game. She also was named the Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year and is a three-time All-State honoree who scored over 3,300 points in her prep career. She was also named Kentucky’s Miss Basketball.
“She is a true leader. She is one of those students that crosses all sub-groups in the school. It is not like she is just strictly an athlete or in that clique. All the kids know Makayla and she has relationships with all the kids,” Marion High School principal Stacey Hall, a former high school coach, said.
“It does not matter who they are. She is that one student if you know there is something going on and you just talk to Makayla, she will help you out to either solve the problem, stop the problem or give you information that will help us get to the root of the problem. She is one of those people who is going to be sorely missed from the standpoint of leaderships. She goes all the way across the board to kids who look up to her and she is friends with them.”
Marion hung a banner in the gym recognizing her being the school’s first McDonald’s All-American during a sendoff ceremony to Chicago for her last week.
“I have learned in seven years that Marion County has a very supportive fan base and great history. It just solidifies the legacy she has here and one-upping her dad (Anthony Epps) and getting out of his shadow and the great player and competitor he was by being part of the McDonald’s game,” Hall said. “As long as this school stands, she will always be the talk of this community along with this team. We are seeing history being made with her.”
Her father also helped Marion win a state title and was a starter on Kentucky’s 1996 national championship team. His daughter, who originally gave a verbal commitment to Louisville, signed with the Wildcats in November.
“She is laid back. I really truly believe she would rather be at Panama City Beach (Fla.) with her friends and enjoying the beach, but I think once she realizes being with these other great players and doing all these events they have planned let’s her see what being a McDonald’s All-American is all about,” Anthony Epps, one of many Marion fans expected her for Wednesday night’s game, said. “To be in history with some of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball is really special and that will eventually sink in for her.”
Marion head coach Trent Milby believes his star understands the value of being in this game.
“She loves basketball, so she knows who has played in McDonald’s games. She is very smart IQ-wise about the game,” Milby said. “She is a big deal in Marion County already. She won a state championship. They know she is good and probably the best this county has ever seen or will and they are proud of that.”
Hall expects a lot of Marion fans who can’t come to Chicago will be watching the game on ESPN to support Epps.
“Not only the kids in the high school, but the smaller kids, the teachers across the district. She has connections with all of them. Everybody will watch to show their support,” Hall said. “Of all the players I have ever seen, she is one of the best. She is the best girls player I have ever seen and I would put her up against any guy that I have seen, and I’ve seen a lot of good ones. She is just special. She knows how to play the game and she has got better in the seven years I have known her every year. She’ll do great in this game.”
Anthony Epps appreciates all the good things in Marion and across the state have said about his daughter.
“The highest compliment you can get as a parent is to have people tell you she is a sweet daughter and she is this and she is that outside of basketball,” Anthony Epps said. “People come up to me all the time saying that. A lot of people who have not seen her ask me what type person she is and I tell them once you meet her, I will let you make your own judgment.
“But to me she is a wonderful young lady and I can’t ask for a better child. She is an excellent role model for her younger siblings as well because they look up to her and really love her. It’s truly a blessing to have a daughter like her and I am so proud she’s playing in this game.”
So is Milby, who says 10 years from now he’ll still recall how special she was.
“I will always remember how good she was, how skilled she was and how good she was in the open floor,” Milby said. “She is so strong that people just bounce off her. In 10 years she will still be the best guard Kentucky has ever seen. All I had to do was just give her the ball. You never had to worry about getting the ball up the floor.”
He’ll also remember how she interacted with teammates despite the numerous accolades she received.
“They all respected each other. Makayla knows she needed those others to do what she is doing. She was one of them. The chemistry was great. They could care less about points, steals and rebounds. They just went out there to win and she was one of them all the way,” Milby said.
AP Basketball Writer
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut is headed back to a familiar place – the Final Four.
Breanna Stewart scored 21 points and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 17 to help top-seed UConn rout Kentucky 83-53 on Monday night and advance to a record sixth-straight national semifinal.
The Huskies will face either Notre Dame or Duke in the national semifinals on Sunday in New Orleans. The Irish and Blue Devils play Tuesday night. UConn (33-4) broke a tie with Stanford (2008-12), LSU (2004-08) and itself (2000-04) by reaching the Final Four again.
It was the second straight season that UConn beat Kentucky in the regional finals. The Huskies topped the Wildcats by 15 last year 105 miles to the north of Bridgeport in Kingston, R.I.
This game wasn’t as close. Kentucky stayed close for the first 10 minutes with their “40 minutes of dread” defense. Then UConn turned up its own defensive intensity.
The Huskies trailed 23-22 with just 9 minutes left in the first half. That’s when Stewart – honored as the outstanding player of the Bridgeport Regional – and UConn’s “no-name” defense took over allowing three points the rest of the half. Kentucky missed 13 of its final 14 shots in the half with the only make coming when Jelleah Sidney banked in a 3-pointer from the wing.
While UConn was playing lockdown defense, Stewart was dominating on the offensive end. The 6-foot-4 star, who was the national high school player of the year last season, scored nine points and had a vicious two-handed block during that closing run.
After Sidney’s 3-pointer, Stewart calmly converted a three-point play on the other end. UConn led 48-26 at the half.
Kentucky couldn’t get within 20 in the second half.
The loudest cheer of the night from the sellout crowd of nearly 8,600 came when the video board showed highlights of Louisville’s upset victory over Baylor on Sunday night.
UConn’s only losses this season came to Baylor and three times to Notre Dame.
Stewart didn’t play well in most of those losses, but really has stepped her game up over the past few weeks. After struggling through the middle part of the season, the heralded first-year has averaged 16.4 points since the start of the Big East tournament.
It’s been an unusual season for UConn, which for the first time in 19 years didn’t win either the Big East regular season or tournament title. Now the Huskies are two wins away from an eighth national championship.
This was the 19th time in the past 23 seasons that UConn had reached the regional final. They have made the Final Four 14 times overall, including the last six.
None of the regional final games during this current run have been close with only Rutgers coming within 10 in 2008. UConn’s lead ballooned to 36 points in the second half of this game. When the final buzzer sounded Mosqueda-Lewis jumped into the arms of Stewart to celebrate.
Coach Geno Auriemma got a gritty effort out of junior center Stefanie Dolson, who has a stress fracture in her right ankle and an injured left foot as well. She wore a brace on her left leg and a compression sock on her right one. While she only scored two points, she had 11 rebounds and four assists.
The loss brought to a close a record year for the Wildcats (30-5). Kentucky had the most victories in school history. Not bad for a school rich in basketball tradition on the men’s side. Still coach Matthew Mitchell was left searching for the school’s first trip to the Final Four.
The Wildcats have made the NCAA tournament in each of the past four seasons and reached the regional finals in three of those years falling short each time.
Senior A’dia Mathies, the two-time SEC player of the year, had a quiet game scoring only 14 points with 11 of them coming in the second half. Kastine Evans, who hit the big 3-pointer to help beat Delaware in the regional semifinals had just two points on 1 of 9 shooting. Her older brother R.J., who played on the UConn’s men’s basketball team this season, sat behind the Wildcats bench in a Kentucky shirt.
The Huskies have won 43 of their past 44 NCAA games in the state of Connecticut, including going 9-1 in Bridgeport. The lone blemish came against Duke in 2006 in the regional final.
UCONN 83, KENTUCKY 53
KENTUCKY (30-6): O’Neill 5-12 2-3 13, Mathies 4-9 4-6 14, Stallworth 4-12 1-2 9, Walker 0-1 2-2 2, Evans 1-9 0-0 2, Thompson 1-5 0-0 2, Pinkett 0-1 0-0 0, Sidney 2-5 0-0 5, Goss 2-8 2-2 6, Henderson 0-0 0-0 0, Bishop 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-62 11-15 53.
UCONN (33-4): Doty 1-1 0-0 3, Mosqueda-Lewis 6-11 2-3 17, Stewart 8-14 5-6 21, Dolson 1-4 0-0 2, Faris 3-4 6-6 12, Tuck 1-3 4-4 6, Jefferson 5-7 0-0 10, Hartley 3-10 4-4 10, Buck 0-1 0-0 0, Stokes 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 29-56 21-23 83.
Halftime_UConn 48-26. 3-Point Goals_Kentucky 4-16 (Mathies 2-3, Sidney 1-3, O’Neill 1-4, Stallworth 0-1, Thompson 0-1, Goss 0-2, Evans 0-2), UConn 4-11 (Mosqueda-Lewis 3-6, Doty 1-1, Tuck 0-1, Stewart 0-1, Hartley 0-2). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Kentucky 33 (Stallworth 8), UConn 41 (Dolson 11). Assists_Kentucky 9 (Evans 3), UConn 12 (Dolson 4). Total Fouls_Kentucky 20, UConn 18. A_8,594.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Matthew Mitchell is trying to build Kentucky into a women’s basketball power. Getting to the Final Four for the first time will be a huge step in reaching that goal. Mitchell’s team is one victory away, and Connecticut stands in the way for the second straight season. The two teams played last year and UConn came away with a 15-point victory. They’ll meet again tonight in the Bridgeport regional final.
“This program’s come a long way and made a tremendous amount of progress in last four years,” Mitchell said. “We want to be the best team in the country and that doesn’t happen by making one Final Four. One Final Four is an outstanding achievement and something we’re working hard to get to. It’s a huge step we’re 40 minutes away from.”
The Wildcats have made the NCAA tournament in each of the past four seasons and reached the regional finals in three of those years. The run has impressed UConn coach Geno Auriemma.
“Kentucky was one of those places where if they get the right coach they’ll be really good,” he said. “Any place that’s good in men’s basketball should be good in women’s basketball. (Matt’s) carved out his own style and I don’t know if anybody’s gotten that far that quickly and done a better job in the country than they have.”
Now they just need to take that next step. The Wildcats have been focused on the Final Four since they started practice. Hanging in front of their locker room in Kentucky is a picture of the Final Four logo with a clock next to it. Ever since the first day of practice back in early October, that clock has been counting down the days and minutes until the Final Four in New Orleans. The second-seeded Wildcats hope to be in Louisiana when the clock reaches zero.
Whether they advance or not, it’s already been a record year for the Wildcats (30-5). Kentucky has the most victories in school history. Not bad for a school rich in basketball tradition on the men’s side, winning its eighth national championship last season in New Orleans.
While the Wildcats are hoping for their first national semifinals appearance, the Huskies are trying to make the Final Four for a record sixth consecutive year. It’s been an unusual season for UConn, which for the first time in 19 years didn’t win either the Big East regular season or tournament title. Now the Huskies have a chance at another title — an eighth national championship.
“I’m hoping everybody realizes that this is literally the last opportunity,” UConn senior Kelly Faris said. “And I’m hoping everybody’s getting the sick feeling in their stomach from losing every time. We’ve just got to come together and play Connecticut basketball and listen to every single thing coach says because, obviously, he knows what he’s talking about. And if we listen to him, we’ll be all right.”
The Huskies (32-4) have won 42 of their past 43 NCAA games in the state of Connecticut, including going 8-1 in Bridgeport. The lone blemish came against Duke in 2006 in the regional final.
The loss to Connecticut last season is still fresh in the Wildcats’ minds.
“We saw it as a missed opportunity,” SEC player of the year A’dia Mathies said. “We were there in the first half and had a mental lapse for a couple four-minute segments. If we did a better job staying focused we would have gone to the Final Four. We know it could happen this year.”
Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
AP Basketball Writer
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – The Kentucky Wildcats and their “40 minutes of dread” were too much for Elena Delle Donne and Delaware.
Jennifer O’Neill scored 19 points and A’dia Mathies added 16 to help Kentucky hold off the Blue Hens 69-62 on Saturday in the Bridgeport regional semifinals, bringing to an end the stellar career of Delle Donne.
It’s the second straight season that Kentucky (30-5) has advanced to the regional final. The Wildcats, who already have a school record for victories, lost to Connecticut last season by 15 points.
Delle Donne had 33 points for Delaware (32-4) and finished her career as the fifth all-time leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,039 points. She passed former stars Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw and Maya Moore on Saturday.
She finished well short of Jackie Stiles’ all-time scoring mark of 3,393 set at Southwest Missouri State from 1998-2001.
There’s little doubt that Delle Donne would have broken it had she not missed 22 games in her career. The 6-foot-5 star who is averaging 26.6 points in her career sat out six games this season with a reoccurrence of the symptoms of Lyme disease that forced her to miss a dozen games two years ago.
She did all she could to take Delaware to the regional final. Trailing by 14 early in the second half, the Blue Hens cut their deficit to 62-60 with 2:47 left on a jumper by Delle Donne that touched nearly every part of the rim before dropping in. That shot moved her past Moore and sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy.
But Kastine Evans calmly responded with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 65-60. Jaquetta May had three chances at putbacks on the other end, but couldn’t convert.
Delle Donne exited with 10 seconds left and had a long embrace with coach Tina Martin.
The second-seeded Wildcats will play the winner of Connecticut and Maryland on Monday with a trip to New Orleans and the Final Four on the line.
Delle Donne had little help in the first half as her teammates struggled from the field. The senior forward did pretty much everything she could to help keep the Blue Hens in the game. She scored 13 straight points as Delaware only trailed 17-15 midway through the first half. Then Kentucky took over scoring the next 10 points. Bria Goss got the run started with a jumper and capped it with a layup that made it 27-17.
The teams then traded baskets the rest of the half with O’Neill hitting a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to make it 41-27.
It was the third straight NCAA game that the Blue Hens trailed at the half. They were able to rally against West Virginia and North Carolina at home and tried their best to pull off another, but the Blue Hens fell just short.
Lauren Carra had a big second half and finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds to provide a second offensive threat for the Blue Hens.
Delaware, which had never made it past the second round before this season, played its first two games at home in front of a loud raucous crowd that included Vice President Joe Biden.
While Biden didn’t make it up to the game Saturday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did. He graduated from Delaware where he met his wife Mary Pat. Christie was wearing a yellow Delaware fleece and took pictures and signed ticket stubs for fans.
The governor’s trip to the game was a lot longer than planned. Trenton was supposed to host the regional until the NCAA moved it in November citing a new law that allowed gambling on college sports in New Jersey. The late switch didn’t seem to impact ticket sales, as Saturday’s session was sold out with nearly 8,600 fans expected to attend each session.
The two teams had only played once before, with Delaware winning 86-70 in 2006.
KENTUCKY 69, DELAWARE 62
DELAWARE (32-4): Delle Donne 11-23 11-11 33, Parker 3-9 0-0 6, Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Richards 0-0 0-0 0, Carra 3-5 3-4 10, May 1-6 0-0 2, Buchanan 0-0 0-0 0, Lucas 3-9 5-5 11, Leon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-53 19-20 62.
KENTUCKY (30-5): Walker 3-8 2-3 8, Stallworth 2-5 0-0 4, O’Neill 6-14 3-6 19, Mathies 5-13 5-7 16, Evans 3-9 0-0 8, Thompson 1-2 2-2 4, Pinkett 0-1 0-0 0, Sidney 1-1 0-0 2, Goss 2-6 0-1 4, Henderson 1-1 0-0 2, Bishop 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 25-62 12-19 69.
Halftime_Kentucky 41-27. 3-Point Goals_Delaware 1-6 (Carra 1-1, Lucas 0-1, Delle Donne 0-4), Kentucky 7-24 (O’Neill 4-9, Evans 2-5, Mathies 1-6, Pinkett 0-1, Bishop 0-1, Goss 0-2). Fouled Out_Carra, Lucas. Rebounds_Delaware 40 (Carra 10), Kentucky 35 (Walker 11). Assists_Delaware 7 (Lucas 3), Kentucky 9 (O’Neill 4). Total Fouls_Delaware 21, Kentucky 18. A_NA.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
Dominique Hawkins of Madison Central and Makayla Epps of Marion County both led their teams to state championships, both have now been named the state’s top players and both may well end up playing at Kentucky.
They were named Mr. Basketball and Miss. Basketball Friday night in Louisville by the sponsoring Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation.
Now Epps, who scored over 3,300 points, will be off to Chicago to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game on Wednesday while Hawkins heads to Florida for spring break and awaits word on whether he’ll get a scholarship offer from UK coach John Calipari.
Kentucky signee Derek Willis of Bullitt East went into the season as the Mr. Basketball favorite and had a splendid season, but Hawkins was sensational in March — including three games at the state tourney when Calipari watched himplay.
He scored a school-record 2,453 points in his career and averaged 20 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.
Hawkins had hoped to find out Friday if UK would offer, but that process was put on hold even though Calipari visited him earlier in the week. He has offers from South Carolina, Purdue, Morehead and Western Kentucky.
Epps, a guard just like Hawkins, signed with UK after originally giving Louisville a verbal commit. She averaged 23 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists this season to help Marion got 39-0.
She beat Duke signee Becca Greenwell of Owensboro Catholic and teammate Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, another UK signee, to be named Miss Basketball.
GARY GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON — Kentucky’s primary goal against Delaware will be like all Blue Hens’ opponents: try to keep All-American Elena Delle Donne from taking control of the game. It’s not the first time this season the Wildcats have faced one of the sport’s best players.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell believes his team learned from their experience against the game’s most imposing player — 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner — in an 85-51 loss to Baylor. The 6-5 Delle Donne presents a different challenge; she rebounds, is a willing passer and averages 25.8 points — but she can dominate from the perimeter.
Delaware’s supporting cast also makes it difficult to focus solely on Delle Donne, but having faced Griner and an even more balanced Baylor team, the Wildcats feel prepared for the round of 16 showdown in Bridgeport, Conn.
“We believe we’re ready,” said Wildcats senior guard A’dia Mathies, coming off a 34-point performance in Tuesday’s 84-70 win over Dayton. “We believe we can beat anybody in the nation if we come with our best effort and play how we can play at the top of our level. We’re not really worried about anybody else, we’re just focused on ourselves. If we play like Kentucky should play, we should have a great outcome.”
Still, Kentucky (29-5) enters the Bridgeport Regional respectful of how Delle Donne makes things go for sixth-seeded Delaware (32-3), winners of 27 straight.
Delle Donne originally signed with UConn before abruptly leaving after a short stay to return home to Delaware. She scored 11 of her 33 points from the foul line to rally the Blue Hens past North Carolina 78-69 on Tuesday. She has scored more than 3,000 points in her Delaware career. She didn’t have to carry the load by herself — Trumae Lucas (20 points) and Danielle Parker (14 points, 13 rebounds) had big games against the Tar Heels.
Delle Donne also averages 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. The versatility that allows her to play anywhere on the court makes her a difficult matchup. But the Wildcats can’t just focus on Delle Donne, they have to account for the other Blue Hens as well.
“She’s only a part of what they do because they have team chemistry,” Mitchell said of Delle Donne. “You make a big mistake if you put it solely on one player. She’s very important obviously to what they want to do because she’s so talented, but we’ll be really trying to make this more about our team and how we do what we do well. I think that’ll be very important to make our tempo a factor, our defensive pressure a factor.”
The Wildcats’ execution in those areas in their tournament wins should give the Blue Hens something to think about. Kentucky forced 48 turnovers while rolling past Navy 61-41 and Dayton in Queens, N.Y., to earn its way into the round of 16 for the second straight year. Another win puts the Wildcats in the regional finals for the third time in four years, where either Connecticut or Maryland will be waiting.
A red-hot Mathies hit 6 of 7 from 3-point range and 13 of 17 overall in Kentucky’s win over Dayton to advance to the round of 16. DeNesha Stallworth added 14 points, while Jennifer O’Neill and reserve Bria Goss each added 11 for Kentucky, which shot 47 percent. Nearly everyone contributed for the Wildcats, who needed a team effort considering how a stomach virus hit the team during their win against the Flyers. Even Mitchell was affected, jokingly using words such as “gutty” and “gutsy” to describe how the Wildcats fought through illness.
They’ll need another “gutsy” performance against the Blue Hens.
“We’ve prepared very well throughout the season and knowing we have to use our preparation now,” said guard Kastine Evans, a Salem, Conn., native. “We’ve had a lot of big games, we’ve played against great players and just need to understand that all the games we’ve played, we can pull from that and use our potential.”