A couple of unexpected stars came to the front in Sara Potts and Angela Phillips. The program also unexpectedly drew a great deal of interest and support from the community, finishing in the top 20 in the nation in attendance. Would DeMoss be able to build on this in season two?
Last season when Mickie DeMoss arrived
at UK, her program was watched with curiosity. What
style would she bring? Would this Pat Summitt
protégé bring the same style? What could she
do with a program that had lost 24 players to transfer over an 8-year period and hadnt
had a winning season since 2000? DeMoss
first season ended with an overall record of 11-17 (3-11), the same as Bernadette Mattoxs
final season and lost 5 seniors, including 2 starters in the post. While the overall record didnt reflect a
difference, those who followed the program saw a difference.
No longer were there blowout losses to conference powers Georgia, Tennessee,
and LSU. There was a new intensity and
attitude within the program and newly found toughness.
A couple of unexpected stars came to the front in Sara Potts and Angela
Phillips. The program also unexpectedly drew a
great deal of interest and support from the community, finishing in the top 20 in the
nation in attendance. Would DeMoss be able to
build on this in season two?
During the spring, Coach DeMoss and her
staff put together one of the top recruiting classes in nation. Overshadowed by the hype around Tubby Smiths
late season finds, DeMoss signed Sarah Elliott, Sade Buley, Eleia Roddy, Samantha Mohoney,
and Chante Bowman which was ranked #5 or #6 in the nation depending on which analyst
rankings you read. In addition, Nastassia
Alcius, the A-10 Freshman of the Year, joined UK after sitting out her transfer season. This class was a nice combination of size and
speed, which DeMoss needed greatly to add to her existing roster. More importantly, it helped build depth, which UK
did not have in DeMoss first season. In
addition, senior Danyelle Payne returned for a fifth year after graduating in four years
and receiving an additional year of eligibility after being a partial qualifier her
freshman year. Could DeMoss blend the old with
During the summer, Jenny Pfeiffer, a
sharp shooting 2-guard and starter, who had battled back from mono which had ended her
season, decided to leave the team. Following
the loss of Pfeiffer, sophomore power forward and potential starter Afton Perry tore her
ACL in an exhibition game versus the West Coast All-Stars.
Would this be a sign of things to come?
UK hit the ground running. Season ticket sales set a record with over 4000+
sold before the season started and the Cats started the season 3-0, quickly
dispatching of Butler and Florida A&M, and overcoming a 14-point deficit against Oregon
State. Senior Sara Potts picked up where she
left off from her all-SEC junior season, by averaging over 20 ppg during the first 3
contests. Nastassia Alcius found herself in
the starting line up at the 2 and the freshmen made their presence felt quickly from the
bench. Sarah Elliott and Eleia Roddy both went
to work inside and turned in solid performances. Sade
Buley quickly made it known why she was touted as one of the best recruits in the nation
with her smooth shooting stroke.
The Cats would then hit skids,
going 1-3 in their next 4 games. It began with
a loss to Division I newcomer South Dakota State at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. In what would become a disturbing habit at times
during the season, UK jumped out on SDSU and take a 13-point lead only to relinquish it
and lose the game. In the next game, senior
leader Sara Potts ran into the flu and UK ran into national power Rutgers and their HOF
coach, Vivian Stringer. After garnering a W
against Northwestern, the Cats would encounter in-state rival, Louisville. UK would take an 8-point lead early in the second
half, only to have UofL take control of the game. The
Lady Cards would take a 23-point lead in the second half and hand UK a 17-point loss. The five game road stretch had taken its toll on
this young team. Not only would Coach DeMoss
need to deal with getting her team to move past this loss, she would also have to deal
with an off-court distraction. DeMoss
dismissed frosh Sade Buley after she admitted to taking money from the UK ticket office in
It was time to return to the friendly
confines of Memorial Coliseum and Rupp Arena. The
Cats would go on a 7-1 run from here. Frosh
Samantha Mahoney and Chante Bowman would enter the starting lineup and not leave it for
the rest of the season. Along the way, UK
would defeat Charleston Southern, Marshall, UAB, and Nicholls State. The one defeat UK would suffer would be to Xavier. As they had done previously, UK jumped out to an
11-point first half lead on Xavier only to relinquish it despite a 21-point effort by Sara
UK would bounce back from the loss to
meet Wake Forest in Rupp Arena. Coming into
the game, Wake Forest had just defeated #15 Houston and was flirting with the Top 25. Coach DeMoss and her Wildcats would not be
intimidated. In a game that Coach DeMoss said
her team needed to win, UK would jump out to a 21-7 lead.
Wake Forest would attempt to come back, but UK would hold steady and take an
8-point lead into the locker room. During the
second half, Wake would cut the lead to 1 but UK never gave in. Behind a strong performance by freshman center
Sarah Elliott, who contributed 20 points and 8 boards, the Cats would hold off Wake Forest
and go on to victory. UK would finish
pre-conference play by defeating St. Francis and Longwood and enter conference play with a
record of 11-4.
Stay tuned for part two, which reviews the women's conference and post season play.