Dishin & Swishin 12/05/13 Podcast: Matthew Mitchell & Kentucky are ready for the SEC and a national championship run
On the social media service Twitter ESPN commentator Rebecca Lobo and Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn discussed and debated the perpetual success of teams like UConn and Tennessee, and whether that is good for women’s college basketball. UConn coach Geno Auriemma has for years said that it is incumbent on the “other teams” to bring their programs up to the level of the Huskies and the Lady Vols, not legislate their programs down.
In Lexington, Kentucky, the Wildcats are striving to do just what Auriemma suggested. A historic men’s program at Kentucky helped to establish a surging women’s program under seven-year head coach Matthew Mitchell. After two years of mediocrity and a 33-32 start, Mitchell’s teams have embraced his “forty minutes of dread” up-tempo system on both ends of the court. The results have been spectacular. Kentucky has won at least 25 games each of the last four seasons, earned tournament berths each year. They made it to the Elite Eight in three of the last four seasons. Yet prior to junior Jennifer O’Neill’s arrival on campus, the team did not have a McDonald’s All-American in its history.
Coach Mitchell returns to the Dishin & Swishin podcast this week, on the heels of their second consecutive upset victory in the Battle of the Bluegrass, coming from behind to defeat in state rival Louisville, 69-64, then ranked No. 3/4 in the polls, this past Sunday. However, this was not the first difficult out-of-conference game on the Kentucky schedule this season, nor is it the last.
While most top programs play a few out-of-conference games against other top programs, there are few that are willing to take on the top mid-major programs, and even fewer are willing to go on the road to face them. Those schools do not generate the same interest as “the big names,” can be tough games, especially when you consider that it is “an event” on the smaller school’s campus. Yet already this season Kentucky has gone to Poughkeepsie, New York and taken on Marist, and Mufreesboro, Tennessee to play Middle Tennessee State. On top of those games, Central Michigan played in Lexington, and Kentucky will travel to play the Chippewas on CMU’s home court next year.
Still on Kentucky’s schedule in calendar year 2013 are second-ranked Duke, DePaul in Chicago, and this Friday they have a big road “event” game, when they will join the men’s team in a double-header against ninth-ranked Baylor, at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. This has the potential to be a great game in a great setting, with two tough, aggressive, talented programs facing off. Kentucky looks to continue an 18-game regular season winning streak against non-conference opponents, while Baylor wants to eliminate questions about their post-Griner team in the wake of an easy non-conference schedule. The game will be televised on ESPN3 at 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET.
Mitchell discusses his 2013-14 Wildcats, led by the talented senior front line of DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker plus the outstanding shooting of Kastine Evans. Other topics include:
- This year’s SEC, the perpetual challenges involved with conference play.
- The men’s team and their success, coach John Calipari’s support and involvement with the women’s program.
- Big Blue Madness and the dazzling dance moves of Matthew Mitchell.
- Points of emphasis, rule changes, adjustments and his thoughts on each.
- Road games in the NCAA tournament, including this year, potential regional matchups on the home courts of Louisville, Notre Dame, Nebraska or Stanford.
- Promoting the game of women’s basketball, including the use of beer, bacon, and men’s games to encourage fans to come to games.
Always entertaining and outspoken, Mitchell is one of the favorite guests of Dishin & Swishin.
Enjoy the podcast!