Before the UK women’s basketball team clinched a much-needed win against Alabama Thursday, Coach Matthew Mitchell divulged the secret to this team’s new-and-improved mentality: the word purple.
No, not blue. Purple.
Prior to the the Alabama victory, the Cats had lost nine of their previous ten games. With that disappointing record, the young team had to find a way to stay positive. Under the suggestion of assistant coach Kyra Elzy, the freshmen began using the word “purple” as a codeword for positivity. And what started as a sort of inside-joke between freshmen has turned into a team-wide phenomenon – even Coach Mitchell is in on it.
“They say [purple] and then I started saying it too now because there are a lot of times that I want to go negative because they are not doing what I want them to do,” Mitchell said. “They want me to go positive, then they ask themselves to go positive, everybody needs to go positive.”
But, of course, it hasn’t always been easy.
“There have been days we have gone negative because it’s been a tough go,” Mitchell said. “But what I love about it is they are still coming to practice hungry and that they even care enough to understand that they need to be positive and keep going on. That just tells you about them as kids. They are not where we want them to be skill wise, but you can teach skill, you cannot teach the other.”
The positivity paid off for the Cats, who blew past Alabama 79-54 Thursday night. Now, they’ll have to capitalize on this momentum, as they travel to play Arkansas on the road tomorrow and return to Memorial Coliseum Thursday to face-off against Auburn.
“Very happy for our players. They have been working extremely hard. A lot of hard work went into that one,” Mitchell said of the victory over Alabama. “They’ve been working really, really hard. We need to build on this one.”