LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky women’s basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell and freshman guard Bria Goss have been named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association watch lists for the National Coach of the Year and National Freshman of the Year.
Mitchell is one of 10 coaches named to the watch list for the National Coach of the Year. The others are Delaware's Tina Martin, Jim Crowley of St. Bonaventure, Princeton's Courtney Banghart, Duke's Joanne P. McCallie, Baylor's Kim Mulkey, Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw, Penn State’s Coquese Washington, St. John’s Kim Barnes Arico and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer.
Mitchell has led the Wildcats to one of the most successful seasons in school history after winning UK’s first Southeastern Conference regular season championship since 1982. He has led the Cats to their third straight 20-win season with a 24-5 overall record, including a 13-3 mark in SEC play. It marked the first time UK has had three straight 20-win seasons since 1980-1983. The 13 league wins were a school record for SEC wins in a season, breaking the previous two years’ record of 11 conference wins.
Over the last three seasons, Kentucky has gone 35-13 in SEC play, the best three-year conference mark in school history. At home during that time, Kentucky has been a formidable team at home, holding an impressive 48-2 mark in Lexington. UK was the only school in the SEC to go undefeated at home this season with a 16-0 clip. The Wildcats’ current 20-game home winning streak is tied for the fourth longest in the country.
No. 10/9 UK began the season at 21-3 which tied the best start in program history. The Cats set three school records of consecutive regular-season conference wins (13), consecutive SEC wins to begin a season (10) and consecutive SEC road wins (6).
UK, known for its defensive prowess, currently ranks in the top 12 of four national statistical categories, including leading the nation in turnover margin (+11.2). UK has forced a school-record 828 turnovers this year and has now forced 800 or more in three consecutive seasons. The Cats also rank ninth in steals per game (12.8), 12th in scoring offense (75.2) and 12th in scoring margin (+17.3).
In five seasons at the helm, Mitchell already ranks No. 3 all-time in wins at Kentucky with 110. He is just the third coach in UK Hoops history to record 100 wins and he earned the milestone in 151 games becoming the second fastest coach in UK Hoops history to reach 100 victories. His winning percentage of 67.0 percent (110-54) ranks second.
Although these 10 coaches have been selected to the watch list, all Division I coaches remain eligible to earn the coach of the year award when balloting by the entire USBWA membership begins next Monday.
Goss is one of five outstanding first-year players named to the watch list for the 2011-12 Women's National Freshman of the Year award, along with Duke’s Elizabeth Williams, Connecticut’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Tennessee’s Ariel Massengale and Oklahoma State’s Liz Donohoe. Similar to the coach of the year award, all freshmen remain eligible to earn the 10th annual award when balloting by the entire membership begins next Monday.
Goss was recently named the SEC Freshman of the Year, while also being named to the All-Freshmen team. The Indianapolis native was second on the team in scoring and first in the SEC among freshmen, averaging 11.6 points per game. Goss was also a consistent scorer, reaching double figures in scoring in 21 of 29 games. The freshman star shot the ball well from beyond the arc, ranking ninth in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (.337), and also got to the foul line well, making 76 of her 105 free-throw attempts (.724), the seventh best clip in the league. A fearless defender, Goss also took a team-high 18 charges.
In the UK freshman record books, Goss is on pace to have the sixth highest scoring average and already has the fourth most double-figure scoring games. She is tied for the fifth most 3-pointers made.
Junior and SEC Player of the Year A’dia Mathies was one of 20 players named to the USBWA Women’s National Player of the Year midseason watch list in early February.
The announcement of the winners will come at the annual USBWA breakfast at the NCAA Women's Final Four on Tues., April 3, in Denver. The event is open to all credentialed Final Four media with limited availability to others interested in attending the event.