UK Hoops Notebook: Signing Day, previewing Sac State, injury report
After an impressive but sloppy win over Southern Indiana in their only exhibition game of the season, Matthew Mitchell's UK Hoops squad opens their season this weekend with two games at home.
The Wildcats play against the Sacramento State Hornets Friday at 7:00 P.M. and then on Sunday versus the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs at 2:00 P.M.
Coach Mitchell met with the press earlier today to preview his team's opening weekend, publically comment on UK's two new signees, and provide an update an injury update.
Cats To Be
Yesterday Kentucky inked signatures for one of the best players in the Commonwealth, Blair Green, and one of the best in the nation, Rhyne Howard.
"We're really really excited about Rhyne and Blair signing with us and becoming Wildcats. Big, big time additions for us. Both are very versatile players, both are tremendous students, and both are high character people", said Coach Mitchell about the two.
Green is a Harlan County native and a four-star prospect according to various recruiting outlets. She averaged 23 points and seven rebounds per contest during her junior season.
Coach Mitchell had this to say about her in a pre-prepared statement from yesterday: " Blair is a player that fits well into what we like to do having a hard-nosed, blue-collar work ethic. She is a gym rat and a great athlete with an outstanding skillset, which is a truly dangerous combination...She can play numerous positions and is very versatile."
Green's future coach also called her an "adventurous person," citing a well-publicized story where she talked him into zip-lining on a recruiting visit; something that Coach Mitchell admitted would not be his idea way to spend the day.
Howard hails from Cleveland, Tennesee and is a consensus five-star athlete. She averaged 20 points, seven rebounds, and five steals over the course of her junior campaign.
"Rhyne Howard is a player that Big Blue Nation is going to be really excited about. She is extremely versatile and can play – if called upon – all five spots on the floor. She is another very athletic player for us with a high basketball IQ and just the definition of a playmaker", said Coach Mitchell about Howard.
The Hornets finished last season with a losing record, 10-20, but Coach Mitchell is not taking the California visitors lightly.
"Sacramento State is going to pose a real challenge to us. They are going to try and play extremely hard and an unorthodox style, shoot as many 3's as they can and get the pace really fast."
Sac. State's reliance on the press will test the young Cats significantly at this point in their development, said Coach Mitchell.
Kentucky will need to keep the ball in front of them and be aware, or they will likely get swiped as often as they did against Southern Indiana this past Sunday. The Screaming Eagles forced the Wildcats into 22 turnovers.
However, breaking the press is something that the team has worked on in practice this week.
"We will be three or four practices better as far as the pass break goes," said Coach Mitchell. He also stated that his veterans understand that, but "youthful mistakes" are hard to correct at this point because more freshman are handling the ball this season as opposed to last.
Still, Coach Mitchell said his team has practiced well all week and are ready to play a team that will put up shots as soon as they get in the gym.
Junior forward Ogechi Anyagaligbo exited the Southern Indiana game early in the 2nd half, and today Coach Mitchell confirmed that she will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL tear.
Anyagaligbo was the America East Conference Rookie of the Year in 2016 at Stony Brook and sat out last season due to transfer rules.
She scored four points and grabbed a single rebound in six minutes of play during the exhibition game.