Kentucky’s 2018-19 rendition of women’s basketball media day allowed the public an inside glimpse of what to expect from the Wildcats this upcoming season on Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum.
“We are excited to kick the season off,” said head coach Matthew Mitchell. “I think this is a special group of people who care a whole lot about each other and are going to look after each other. I am looking forward to getting the season started.”
Mitchell credited last summer’s visit to Italy with providing a head start on the preparation for his 12th year at the helm. Kentucky picked up two wins in three exhibition games last August.
“There were so many great moments we had during the trip … and we certainly had some basketball benefit from it,” Mitchell said. “The greatest benefit for us was their opportunity to come together as a team and help each other out.”
Senior guard Maci Morris, who recorded the highest scoring output of Kentucky’s foreign tour with 24 points on 6-of-8 (.750) shooting from three-point range in an 81-64 win over Marghera Select Team to end the expedition, joins Taylor Murray as the only returning starters to bring back double-digit scoring averages from a season ago. Mitchell looks to lean on the pair for added leadership on the floor.
“(Morris and Murray) have fully invested in their time at Kentucky,” said Mitchell. “They have given a lot on the court, but also been through some turbulent times. They have kind of run the gamut during their time here. For them to really finish off with a special season, I am highly motivated as a coach to help them do that. I know they are motivated to do that as players. I’m looking forward to their senior season. They are going to do great.”
In addition to the experience of Morris, Murray, sophomore KeKe McKinney, and seven role players returning from a unit that produced the first losing record of Mitchell’s storied tenure, Kentucky expects an immediate impact from the prolific freshman duo of Rhyne Howard and Blair Green.
“(Howard) is very talented in really every way you can measure a basketball player,” Mitchell said. “I think she has a chance to be a very good player, and she’s already shown that in the time that she’s practiced with us. … I look forward to a successful career for her. We’re sure glad she came to Kentucky.
“(Green) came in very fit, very focused, and with a real genuine humility,” said Mitchell. “She and Rhyne both, I want to make sure that it’s clear: They have got things they have to learn and do better, and they have got to get lower and more physical, and they have got to get stronger. But, just from an effort standpoint, and an attitude and ‘coachability’ standpoint, I’m really impressed with both of them.”
After addressing the media for over 30 minutes, Mitchell led his team in a full open practice. Check out a short clip of the Wildcats below. Kentucky’s lone exhibition tune-up at Memorial Coliseum will take place Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. ET versus Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.).