With the latest edition of Big Blue Madness a little over a week away, most member’s of the Big Blue Nation are looking forward to what head coach John Calipari and his Wildcats will look for the upcoming 2013-14 basketball season. And if that’s all you’re looking for, let me quote ESPN’s great Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.” Because beyond what dance routine Women’s coach Matthew Mitchell is cooking up for the Big Blue Madness, he’s got the ingredients to make a deep run in March Madness as well.
Announced on Wednesday, October 9 by the NCAA, the University of Kentucky’s Women’s Basketball Team will host first and second round games in the 2014 Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament in Memorial Coliseum. The Cats will be first time hosts in 2014, an achievement that indicates that the women’s program is on the move toward that upper echelon of women’s basketball. With back to back Elite Eight appearances and three appearances in the last four seasons, the Cats will join perennial basketball powers UConn, Tennessee, Baylor and Purdue as site hosts. And with the Yum Center in Louisville, the Cats will be able to reach their first Final Four without traveling more than an hour or so from campus.
Of course, with the program’s external expectations having been raised, Coach Mitchell will have to really get the most out of one of the most talented rosters in program history. The Cats return four starters from last year’s 30 win team, including all-SEC honorees: DeNesha Stallworth, Bria Goss and Samarie Walker and also All-NCAA Tournament regional performer Jennifer O’Neill. Adding a trio talented freshmen, including McDonald’s All-American Makayla Epps and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers from Marion County, KY and McDonald’s All-American Linnae Harper to an experienced and talented the roster and Matthew Mitchell has a recipe for continued success.
Coach Cal and the men garner the majority of the headlines, both from recruiting and on-court success, but the women’s program is slowly, but surely making their own name in the sports world. Since the UK Athletic Department and Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart made the decision to invest into the women’s program, and Coach Mitchell, the return on that investment has produced on and off the court dividends, making the University of Kentucky a basketball mecca for young men and women alike.
So do yourself a favor and make it a point to root on the University of Kentucky’s Men’s and Women’s basketball teams. History could be made for both programs during the upcoming hoops season