Matthew Mitchell’s team has one goal in mind this year: A berth in the 2013 Final Four in New Orleans. Last year’s team was one game away from accomplishing that goal, but was eventually overwhelmed by a talent-laden Connecticut team. The remaining players from last year’s team still have a bad taste in their mouths from the defeat and want nothing more than to finish what they started a year ago. Unfortunately, this team will not have the privilege of sneaking up on anyone. In a preseason media poll, Kentucky was picked in a landslide to win the SEC conference with no other team coming close to the amount of votes they received. Mitchell knows how good this team can be, but still cautions expectations before a product is seen on the floor. “Being picked to win the SEC means absolutely nothing for this year’s team, it speaks more of last year’s team than this year’s,” Mitchell explained. “We’d love to get to New Orleans, but we’re a long way from there and today.” In the video above, Mitchell talked more about handling expectations, the three new additions to the team, and an early season match-up with defending National Champion, Baylor. Take a look.
-How far this team goes depends on senior guard and Preseason SEC player of the year, A’dia Mathies. Mitchell acknowledged her impact on the team and how much the program has thrived since she made her commitment to Kentucky. “The program has literally transformed right in front of our eyes since A’dia arrived on campus,” Mitchell said. “We want nothing more than to send her out with her best season to date.”
-All indications is that Mathies is ready for the challenge. She didn’t shy away from the Final Four talk and stressed how confident she is in this year’s team. “I think that the [Final Four] is the big step this year. We work hard in practice everyday to try to make that dream a reality.”
-When asked if this team could be better than last year’s Elite Eight team, Mathies didn’t hesitate in her answer. “I believe so. We have even more pieces this year to fit the puzzle and ultimately make a Final Four.”
-Mathies is very happy with the talent in this year’s backcourt, especially with the additions of Jennifer O’Neill, who missed all of last season with injury, and freshman Janee Thompson. Mathies thinks it all starts with Bria Goss, though. “Bria is my ace. I know that if we need a play made, I can count on Bria to make it,” she said.
-Goss thinks reaching the goal of a Final Four is all about mindset. “We had that mindset last year, we definitely have it this year, and we expect to have it next year. This year is our year, it’s going to be a good year for us, and I’m excited to go out there and perform.”
There’s no way you can mention college basketball these days and not mention Kentucky. The men’s team is coming off an outstanding National Championship run and have the talent to do something similar again this year. Kentucky’s women’s team is starting to get national recognition coming off an Elite Eight appearance with a chance to have a special season this year as well. Kentucky, right now, is the epicenter of the college basketball world, which makes it a very exciting time to be a Kentucky fan.