The Wildcats added another tally to their wins column with a victory over Grambling State this afternoon, 109-46. The Grambling State Tigers, part of the SWAC, came into today’s game vocal and aggressive, but left with their little Tiger tails tucked after a very physical beat down. A few different questions swirled about Memorial today, two of the main questions being, “Where is their coach?” and “Where is the rest of their team?” The Tigers were coached today by Assistant Coach Lou Hamilton, and only had seven players dressed, when their roster lists a total of 11 players. So what gives Grambling? Where is everyone?
Another record breaking for the Wildcats today!! I feel like every single game were breaking them or setting new landmarks. Today marked the largest halftime lead in program history. Today was also a career high game for Bria Goss, who scored 23 points, and also lead the team in rebounds with eight. Today’s game was the 5th game this season that every player scored, and also the 5th game this season that the Wildcats broke the 100 point mark. The Cats forced the second most turnovers of the season in today’s game with 34, and scored 47 points off those turnovers. Hoops also finished up with 62 points in the paint this afternoon.
Thankfully, the Grambling State interm Coach Lou Hamilton answered our questions about the whereabouts of almost half his team for us. Head Coach Patricia Cage Bibbs has been out this whole season recovering from surgery, while one player was gone because of a death in the family, one player had an injury, and two other players were “just held at home.” I won’t speculate as to what that even means… Coach Hamilton said, “I knew it was gonna be tough, coming in here and having a good showing,” and gave credit to a hard working UK team.
Coach Mitchell commented multiple times on how proud he was of his team for finishing out non-conference play with huge wins on the road versus Marist, Baylor, DePaul and Middle Tennessee, and notable wins at home versus Louisville and Central Michigan. This team has had to work extremely hard for every one of their victories, and should be well prepared to enter into SEC play in 2014. Coach Mitchell ended SEC conversation by saying that it is, “time for us to really get serious” and talking about how excited he was for the new year. Wilder said hes “so anxious” because SEC play is going to be “so competitive.”
Coach Mitchell also talked about DeNesha Stallworth and her progress in rehab. Stallworth is around week three of the four weeks she was estimated to be out of play, and I’m anxious to see her back on the bench for SEC games. He commented that she was “progressing nicely” and said “it was encouraging to see her with a basketball in her hands.” Stallworth, who had to have arthroscopic surgery on her knee, was shooting free throws today during warm ups. Bria Goss said, “We’re encouraging her and keeping her hopes really high, and we’re really excited for her to be back.” Coach Mitchell said that it’s possible she’ll have minutes Sunday against Florida.
Bria Goss and Linnae Harper, who scored 23 and 15 points respectively, are both “geeked” about starting SEC play. Goss commented that some of her best memories were from SEC season, while Linnae focused on talking about how competitive and intense every game would be. Goss also talked about how both Harper and Makayla Epps have risen to the occasion where injury has caused lapses in the roster. Goss said, “They’re both really comfortable on the court, and both have stepped up.” Harper said that “I’m still learning” during every practice, but she has assimilated well to college level basketball.
Thursday the Hoops will FINALLY begin SEC play! Their first game is against Alabama on the road, and will begin at 3PM. Alabama (7-6) is currently last in the SEC rankings, and has a brand new head coach. Starting off with a game against Alabama will be a great way to adjust the team to the tough defense associated with the SEC, and will also prepare the team for their next home game against Florida. Coach Butler of Florida will be stomping her way into Memorial next Sunday, and Wilder couldn’t be more excited.