Not long after ending one of the best seasons in school history, the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team already was talking about its potential for next season.
And why not? The Wildcats will return all but one starter and add three McDonald’s All Americans to the rotation.
“We’re going to be as good if not better,” freshman Bria Goss said after Tuesday’s 80-65 loss to Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament’s Kingston Regional. “We’re going to take this loss, remember this feeling and try to get better from it.”
The Wildcats finished 28-7, won their first Southeastern Conference regular-season title in 30 years and earned their highest NCAA Tournament seed, No. 2, before bowing out in the Elite Eight for the second time in three years.
Coach Matthew Mitchell was trying to take the program to its first Final Four, but after the game he noted that “it’s just so hard to get to this point.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop trying.
“We believe the potential exists for us to be at the top,” Mitchell said. “We’re just going to keep working hard every day. Our plan is to get to several (Final Fours) if we possibly can, or at least work with that intention in mind. We believe it’s going to happen one day.”
UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart believes in Mitchell, who is 114-56 in five seasons and was named SEC Coach of the Year. Barnhart, who was at Tuesday’s game, told the media earlier in the month that he was working on a long-term contract extension for the coach.
“Five years ago we sort of wondered if we could make progress,” Barnhart said. “He came in and changed the whole philosophy of the way we played. He said he wanted to change the way we play and for us to play fast and have fun, and he’s done that.