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After just recently graduating this past May, Kastine Evans, Samarie Walker, and DeNesha Stallworth have all signed professional contracts to play overseas.
Evans, 2nd on UK’s all-time list of most games played with 139, will pursue her master’s degree of finance while playing in England. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to continue playing after my college career,” Kastine said, “I am excited for the overall experience in another country and to be able to learn more about myself and grow each and every day.”
DeNesha Stallworth, widely considered to be one of the best women’s basketball players to ever put on a Kentucky jersey, will be playing in Spain. In her two seasons in Lexington, Stallworth was able to make the All-SEC team twice, as well as being named to multiple watch lists for national player of the year during her senior season. DeNesha was selected 25th overall in the WNBA draft, but has chosen to play overseas instead.
Samarie Walker will be joining her former teammate in Spain to play for rival team Stadium Casablanca. After playing just one season at UConn, Walker transferred to Kentucky, where she was able to become an All-SEC player. Walker started 80 consecutive games for Matthew Mitchell, and was able to finish in the top 10 in UK’s career list in double-doubles, rebounding average, and blocked shots.It has always been a dream of mine to play basketball beyond the college level and to also travel the world,” Walker said, “I am very thankful for the support from my family, coaches and fans.”
It isn’t going to be easy, but it’ll be interesting to see how Coach Matthew Mitchell plans to fill the void left behind by these three women.
— UKWomensSoccer (@UKWomensSoccer) August 31, 2014
University president Dr. Eli Capilouto, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, men’s soccer head coach Johan Cedergren, and women’s soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz will all be speaking.
The first 500 fans to the stadium today will receive a commemorative soccer ball bell to mark the stadium’s historic opening. Fans will have the chance to tour the complex from 12:15 to 12:45 before the Wildcats face the Ohio Bobcats at 2 p.m.
Some news for all you UK Hoops fans going into the weekend: the SEC has released the full women’s basketball conference schedule. Kentucky, widely considered to be a top-10 team once again, will have its fair share of tough games in the 2014-15 campaign. Featured match-ups on the schedule include South Carolina and Tennessee twice, Texas A&M at home, and LSU away. Only four of the sixteen conference games will not be shown on television, with eight of them being aired on the newly-launced SEC Network. You can check out the full schedule below.
A sad note from the UK Hoops family: Samantha Drake has decided not to play her senior season after tearing the ACL and meniscus in her left knee last November. She will instead focus on her academics and graduating in the spring. The former Nelson County star played in 88 games and started 23. She issued a statement thanking Mitch Barnhart, her team, and her coaches:
“I would like to thank Mr. Barnhart, all of my teammates and coaches for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this amazing women’s basketball program at UK,” Drake said. “I was given the chance to show my talent and be a part of a lot of success during my four years. Although I won’t be playing anymore, I’ll still be the biggest cheerleader for the team. I am going to turn my focus on academics and walking across that stage in May to receive my degree.”
Matthew Mitchell also issued a statement in support of Drake and her decision.
“We support Samantha and her decision to forego playing her senior year,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Samantha contributed to so many victories during her career and we are grateful for her efforts. We will continue supporting her any way we can as she works toward graduation.”
Tough, tough news. Best of luck to her going forward.
The Annual Bluegrass Battle begins Friday at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington at 4 p.m featuring four squads from across the country: Butler, Virginia Tech, Wichita State and Kentucky.
The Bluegrass Battle will feature six matches Friday and Saturday, with Kentucky playing in three. The Wildcats will face Wichita State at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Butler at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The Wildcats will close out the tournament against Virginia Tech at 8 p.m.
The roster is heavy with upperclassmen this year. Kentucky returns three seniors (Lauren O’Conner, Jackie Napper and Alyssa Gergins) and four juniors (Shelby Workman, Kayla Tronick, Sara Schwarzwalder and Morgan Bergren). The rest of the roster is rounded out by two sophomores and a whooping five freshmen.
It might be the beginning of the NCAA season for the Cats, but it isn’t the first time the girls have seen action. Over the summer the team became the first SEC volleyball team to play in China while they faced off against Chinese teams. Last week, Kentucky Wildcats TV released a 20 minute video, UK Volleyball Goes to China, on the Cats trip which was full of volleyball, culture shock and excitement from the Volleyball team.
The Cats open the season in the top-25 for the third consecutive year, at No. 19. Something that will be different for Kentucky Volleyball this season will be the number of people who see the team play. A total of 27 matches will be televised for the team this year including every home contest and all SEC road matches.
As the 2014-15 athletic season starts up again, its nice to see that the UK women’s soccer team are getting the Wildcats on the board in the win column early. After losing 4-1 to Washington in the team’s first game of the year, the ‘Cats took down Seattle University 2-1 in OT earlier this evening.
The winning goal came in the 97th minute off the foot of junior Cara Ledman, who also assisted on the other goal scored.
The overtime win for Kentucky was its first since Nov. 9 of the 2012 season, when UK defeated UT Martin in an extra frame in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky will return home for the first time next weekend to christen the new Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Ky., with a Friday/Sunday weekend featuring matches against Francis Marion (Fri. Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET) and Ohio University (Sun. Aug. 31, 2 p.m. ET).
The first live broadcast produced by @KYwildcatsTV for the SEC Network will be tonight’s Men’s Soccer exhibition against Georgia State at the new Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex. UK christened the SEC Network last weekend with their game against the Dominican Republic in the Bahamas being the first game broadcast live on the network which was handled by ESPN crews.
The game will be on the SEC Network Plus which is similar to ESPN3 with Neil Price providing the play by play. If you get the SEC Network through your cable or satellite provider, you get the SEC Network+, you simply have to enter your account information when prompted, similar to the WatchESPN app.
In fact, all home Men’s and Women’s Soccer and all home Volleyball matches (as well as all SEC Road games) will be broadcast online in addition to the games previously selected for the SEC Network. The men’s team had to receive special permission for the broadcasts as the team plays in Conference USA since the SEC does not sanction men’s soccer.
Tonight is just the start as nearly every UK sport that can be put in front a camera this season will be broadcast. We are truly living in modern times.
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) August 21, 2014
One of the coldest Kentucky summers on record is winding down, and hasn’t really left us with much to talk about. Coach Mark Stoops and the rest of the football staff have once again spent the summer holding out to announce the starting quarterback, while the men’s basketball team spends time in the Bahamas with new assistant coach Barry “Slice” Rohrssen. Other than that, pretty much nothing notable has happened. The UK Hoops’ offseason has also been slow from a news point of view, except for some changes to the coaching staff.
Earlier this summer in Part I, I took a look at women’s basketball news from the season’s end on March 29 up until June 3. Let’s look at what has gone on since then:
August 4: ESPN Announces Tip-Off Marathon, Features UK
At the beginning of every college basketball season ESPN shows 24-straight hours of basketball as part of the Tip-Off Marathon. This year, the event will begin with a rematch between the UK Hoops team and the Baylor Bears on Monday, November 17 at 7pm on ESPN2. Last season, Kentucky split two games with the Bears, both at neutral sites. In Jerry World on December 6, UK defeated Baylor in a 4OT thriller in the first game of the double-header with the men. The game, played in a mostly empty arena due to an ice storm in Dallas, broke a women’s college basketball record for points scored in a game, with the final score of 133-130. That was not the only record broke that night: O’Neill’s 43 points off the bench were the most in Kentucky school history. The Lady Bears were able to get revenge, though, beating UK 90-72 in the Sweet 16. The game this season against the Bears will be apart of the women’s “Pack the House” event. During the event last season, UK took on Duke in front of a sold out Rupp Arena crowd of over 23,000.
The marathon that begins with UK Hoops in Rupp Arena, will conclude in Indianapolis during the State Farm Champions Classic, where the men will take on Kansas at 9:30 on Tuesday on ESPN. Some other noteworthy games during the Tip-Off:
SMU vs. Gonzaga
UConn vs. Stanford (women)
Auburn vs. Colorado
Miami vs. Florida
Manhattan vs. UMass
Baylor vs. South Carolina
Wichita State vs. Memphis
Marquette vs. Ohio State
Texas Tech vs. LSU
August 5: Big Blue Madness Campout Set for September 17
Expecting a huge number of campers again this year, UK announces that you will be able to set up camp three days before ticket distribution. Tickets will be given out on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 7am outside of Memorial Coliseum, as usual. The Madness will be held at Rupp Arena on Friday, Oct. 17 to unofficially kickoff another basketball season in the Bluegrass.
August 13: Tamika Williams Added to Staff
Coach Matthew Mitchell announces that former UConn player, Tamika Williams, has been hired as an assistant coach. Mitchell in a statement said, “I have been a long-time admirer of Tamika Williams and her contributions to the game of basketball… Tamika has experienced success as a player, coach, broadcaster and in the business world. Her knowledge of the game coupled with the wisdom she can provide our players will be an invaluable asset to the Kentucky program. Tamika is a tremendous role model for our players and I couldn’t be happier to welcome her as the newest member of the Big Blue Nation.” As the number-one girl’s high school player in America, Williams chose to play her four years of basketball at UConn from 1998-2002, where she won two NCAA championships. She was chosen 6th overall in the WNBA draft, and experienced success during her professional career, leading the league in field goal percentage during a season. Over the past few years she has worked with nonprofit organizations as well as broadcasting for ESPN. Before that she was a graduate assistant at Ohio State and Kansas.
Williams will also be joined by new assistant coaches Adeniyi Amadou and Christian Stefanopoulos.
August 14: 2014-2015 Non-Conference Schedule Announced
With just two months until Big Blue Madness, and only three until the first regular season game, it’s time to get excited. When the conference schedule comes out and we get closer to the start of the season, we’ll preview this upcoming year, where Coach Mitchell hopes to have another deep postseason run — stay tuned!
UK Volleyball will begin the season ranked in the preseason top-25 for the third consecutive year. The Wildcats earned a No. 19 ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason poll. This marks the fifth time in six years the girls have been ranked under 10th year head coach Craig Skinner.
The Cats have also been selected to finish second behind Florida in the SEC by the league’s head coaches. Kentucky is coming off a ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and finished third in the SEC last season. They fell last year 3-1 in the second round of the tournament to Michigan State.
Junior Morgan Bergren was named to the Preseason All-SEC team. Bergren started in all 31 matches for the Cats in 2014 and led the team with 1,215 assists. She was second in team stats with 24 service aces to go along with her 192 digs, 130 kills and 77 blocks.
Kentucky will face five preseason ranked teams including Southern California, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Creighton. Kentucky opens this season against Wichita State on August 28 as part of the Bluegrass Battle at Memorial Coliseum. The tournament will feature four teams.
After an amazing performance last night, the Astros announced that AJ Reed was promoted to their Class-A affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits. Reed went 9-20 with three doubles, a home run and five runs batted over the six away games.
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) July 27, 2014
Reed was promoted after he hit a moon shot grand slam to help the Tri-City ValleyCats win their game. Congrats AJ!
Congrats to UK slugger AJ Reed, who won the Golden Spikes Award this morning, giving him a clean sweep of the National Player of the Year awards. In addition, Reed was named the Southeastern Conference Male Athlete of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, and the winner of the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award.
Reed is now the third all-time SEC player to earn unanimous national player of the year honors, joining Dave Magadan (1983) and David Price (2007). Reed is the sixth SEC great to win the Golden Spikes Award and the first since Florida catcher Mike Zunino.
Reed was drafted by the Houston Astros with the first pick in the second round. Reed’s career at UK was so impressive that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive included him in his “brag bag” during the opening remarks of Media Days.
Keep making us proud, AJ.