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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Know the foe....Kentucky has lost players, but remains undefeated -- Wednesday Cardinal Couple


The old joke goes:

"Will the last player left on the roster please turn out the lights to the gym?"

Ivana stares in disbelief at Matty's latest hand jive.
It isn't quite that bad in Lexington for Matthew Mitchell's #8 Kentucky Wildcats 2015-16 squad but four roster departures and an injury have left the Cats with eight players available for action when the 3-4 Louisville Cardinals come to visit Thursday night. 

The saga began when incoming freshman Morgan Rich left the squad before even participating in WBB Media Day. According to a University spokesman, she 'had not met certain program standards to practice'. Transfer Chrishae Rowe, a transfer from Oregon, was dismissed for 'failure to uphold standards of the program'. Junior Linnae Harper left the squad next for an unspecified reason. We're not sure if standards were involved here or not...

This is not the UK 2015-16 team photo
Junior Kyvin Goodin-Rogers became the fourth departure of the young season after the win over Jackson State. Add in an foot injury to sophomore Alyssa Rice that will have her out for several games and the UK squad resembles the Von Trapp family in the movie The Sound of Music..disappearing from the stage one-by-one during their final performance.

Mitchell retains a 'glass-half-full' attitude about the squad:

"The sky's definitely not falling. In fact the sun's coming up. There are going to be some storms here and there but I'm not concerned." 

A statement that resembles the famous Bill Murray quote in the movie Caddyshack:

"I don't think the heavy stuff is gonna come down for quite awhile." 

Despite the changes in the UK roster, the Cats are 7-0 and ranked #8 in the nation. They haven't beat up on a very challenging slate of opponents...#24 Arizona State took them to overtime in Tempe in their second game of the season. If you look at the combined win/loss record of the teams UK has played this season, it is an unimpressive 26-25. It's been a schedule that has also featured five home games and a brief jaunt to Highland Heights, KY to play NKU. 

Louisville's next? I'm all-in !!
Two players return that have a penchant for being "Card Killers". Senior Janee Thompson sank Louisville in the KFC YUM! Center with her performance her freshman year. She had 19 against the Cards last year in a 77-68 win at the KFC YUM! Center. She's never lost to Louisville, nor has junior Makayla Epps...who leads UK in scoring and was considered to be in the Louisville camp along with Goodin-Rogers back in high school at Marion County until a late reversal of thinking landed them in Lexington.

Beside the two, only Alexis Jennings has played in the rivalry for UK. Newcomers Evelyn Akhator (Chipola C.C.), Ivana Jakubcova (Murray State College, OK) and freshmen Batouly Camara, Taylor Murray and Bell County product Maci Morris round out a UK squad that averages 86 p.p.g. and has had five different leading scorers in their seven contests this year.

Matthew always seems to be doing something with his hands...
Wins over winless Rice, E. Michigan, Jackson State, Morehead State and NKU aren't exactly RPI builders. A home win over rebuilding Colorado and the Arizona State game lead us to believe that the Cats haven't been tested as strongly as the Louisville squad this season. It's been a UK schedule that Jeff Walz and the Cards probably would have prospered with. 

So, how does Louisville break the UK win streak over them? We'll go into more detail on that in Thursday's column...but stopping the impressive UK dribble-drive attack of Epps, Thompson and Morris has to be near the top of Jeff Walz's list. The Cards will need a strong rebounding effort from Cortnee Walton, Myisha Hines-Allen and Sam Fuehring and late-game lapses that have led to several losses this season can't poke their head into Rupp Arena.

Again...with the hands...
Yes. Rupp Arena. The game will take place there because of NCAA Regional Volleyball action in Memorial Coliseum. Regional volleyball action that the UK Volleyball team expected to be a part of until they were shockingly upended by American University.

The last time the two squads faced there was Jeff Walz's inaugural 2007-08 season...when the Cards took a 80-65 win home. A game where Angel McCoughtry took a bump over the eye that required 17 stitches. She watched the game in the locker room while getting treatment, demanded to be taken back to the floor and returned to play...ending up with 23 points.

With less than 48 hours before the tip-off, we're fairly sure that there will be no additional changes in the UK roster. Thompson was reported to have the stomach flu in the Cats win over NKU, but is expected back for the UofL game. Our attempts to send Epps on an all-expenses paid cruise to Alaska this week didn't come to fruition. 

The Cards will go into Rupp with four players who have experienced the rivalry. They hope to bring thunder and lightning to the blue skies Matthew Mitchell is experiencing these days. If the Cards wouldn't shock anyone. If they win, though...the storms could get nasty in Lexington.



  1. Former Card Megan Deines is finding Kansas State to her liking. She starting for the 7-1 Wildcats and averaging 26 minutes a game. She averages 11.5 points a game and is shooting 42% from the floor and 83% from the free throw line.

    1. We're happy for Megan. Her playing time at Louisville wasn't going to amount to much this season so it is good that she is in a place where she can see considerable court-time.


  2. Has the story behind Goodin-Rogers leaving UK ever been explained? Playing time for her really dropped off this year. Was it that or other circumstances? Gov, you have an insight on this?

    Nick O

    1. There is an unconfirmed rumor out there that it was about the playing time. She was usually considered the weaker duo of her and Epps in high school and the heart issue and concussion probably didn't instill a lot of confidence within the UK brain-trust that she could beat out Jennings or Akhator in the paint. A case of being recruited-over? Hopefully she'll find a happy ending somewhere like Deines apparently has.


  3. Taylor Murray will have a major impact in this game.


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