By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky will have had 15 days since its SEC Tournament loss when it takes on Princeton Saturday afternoon in Raleigh in the NCAA Tournament first round.
Kentucky seniors Maci Morris and Taylor Murray both had injury issues late in the season as did freshman Rhyne Howard. Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell hopes the rest has helped his team.
“Coming down the stretch, we were playing tough games, we were trying to position ourselves. After that eighth win in the conference we thought we were in the tournament, we felt pretty good that we would be in the tournament. So now, those last four games were very good teams and very tough teams and then another in the conference tournament, so five games in a real grind had depleted us a little bit, from an emotion standpoint and energy standpoint,” Mitchell said.
“We were able to get three days off, completely off of basketball and school, it was spring break. So, I thought that was great. We were able to come back with some bounce. We scrimmaged on Saturday to try to keep some rust from setting in and I thought they were very energetic, so I think the time off helped us.
“We need energy, we need enthusiasm, we need to be the aggressors, we need to be on the attack, we don’t need our tank half empty. We need to be ready to roll and I think the time off was very beneficial, I think the players did a good job pf rebounding from a tough SEC season.”
Mitchell said Morris is “feeling a lot better” after trying to play through injuries and fatigue the final part of the SEC season.
“She is feeling really confident in her health right now, so that was one of the big reasons, of many, one of the things I wanted to see on Saturday in the scrimmage was getting her back in game action and seeing how she is feeling and moving, and help her get her timing going,” Mitchell said.
However, the UK coach is not worried about how Morris will compete Saturday.
“She is one of the most incredibly competitors I have ever been around. I can promise you she wants to win on Saturday and she will move heaven and earth to get it done,” Morris said. “So, on my list of concerns, she is way down the list. I can tell you that she will be ready to roll Saturday.”