'Likeable' Bria Goss knows what to expect this year with UK Hoops
Bria Goss, left, and A'dia Mathies were two of the top players in the SEC last season and Goss says being picked to win the league this year puts no extra pressure on Kentucky. (Victoria Graff / October 29, 2012)
“I learned that it is a long season and really different from high school and I can’t play here like I did in high school,” said Goss. “I think going into this year I am really excited because I know what is coming. Coach (Matthew) Mitchell was very encouraging to me last year as a freshman playing as many minutes as I did and still having to go to class and do all the other things you do in college. It was a big transition, but now I know what will happen and what to expect.”
Even during her transition season, she was still second on the team with 52 assists and third with 50 steals and 34 3-pointers. She shot 73 percent at the foul line and 37.2 percent from the field.
Goss, an Indiana Miss Basketball and McDonald’s All-American in high school, started every game and scored in double figures in 23 of UK’s 35 games to lead all SEC freshmen in scoring.
Mitchell says her work ethic and attitude make her “likeable to coach” and set her apart from most players.
“Her attitude is one of wanting to get better every day and so when you have those kind of gifts that God's given her, she is tremendously gifted, then you couple that with that attitude of, I really want to come out here and be good today and I'm listening to the coaches and that the way to be good is to work really hard, then you have a chance to have a special player on your hands. I think that's the best way to sum up Bria Goss,” the Kentucky coach said.
He says she has improved her outside shooting in practice while still hustling and playing defense the way she did last season.
“I'm real excited to see how her sophomore season goes and sometimes people worry about a sophomore slump, and I would not bet against Bria Goss this year. She is poised for a great season and she is a mentally tough kid and wants to be good and understands what that comes through, having a great attitude and working hard,” Mitchell said.
She had a bevvy of college offers but says she chose Kentucky for its defense and style of play.
“We didn’t have a very good shooting percentage last year, but because of how many times we others teams over or other things we did well defensively, that all came into play for us on offense. We are not going to be the best shooters, but we are going to commit to our defense and that will get our offense going every game,” Goss said.
“I really liked coach Mitchell’s energy and his style of play. The style of play really got me to come here. I really like the up and down, in your face defense. The pressure. The atmosphere of the fans. Everything about Kentucky, the classes. I love it.”
She says Mitchell “takes pride” in defense more than anything else.
“I don’t know if he was good on defense when he was younger, but he really wants us to be good on defense. We have to step up to his expectations,” Goss said. “That and not having a good attitude or effort are the things that will get under his skin more than anything else.”
Kentucky might have a slightly different defensive look this year with a longer, bigger team that could have less speed to harass opponents into turnovers.
“We have to get in better shape. If we don’t come out on top, I know we will be the most conditioned team around because we do a lot of running. So I am not worried about our defense. More size could help us,” she said. “Today my legs are fresh. Come March I am in the ice tub every day (after practice). I get tired mentally. Right now I am vocal and giving energy and playing like it might be my last day. That’s all I can do and what we all do on defense no matter who is playing.”
She doesn’t mind having Kentucky tabbed as the SEC favorite, either.
“It is nice. It doesn’t involve more pressure. We just have to go out here and live up to our expectations,” she said. “People want to see us perform well, and who doesn’t want to perform well. That No. 1 is just a blessing and we could not have asked for more, but we can’t stop here. We have to go out here and play. We play against the best every day all year. To have high expectations for ourselves is where it all starts because we want a chance to play for the national championship at the end.”