Matthew Mitchell says beating Tennessee was “great victory”

Kentucky Women’s Basketball

#12 Kentucky vs. #19 Tennessee

Postgame Quotes

Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.

Jan. 25, 2016

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …

“I’m very proud of our team tonight. I thought no matter what the outcome was going to be, I was really proud of how we had practiced the last two days and it’s just there for everybody to see where our flaws are. And we have many, but we just really believe in this team and believe in these kids and I just think a month from now we are going to be a much better team than we are right now. We had to work hard the last two days to get ready for Tennessee. Tennessee is an extremely talented team and you saw what they could do there at the end when they really dialed up the pressure. Great victory for us. We were fortunate to win and more than the win, I’m just proud of our players for practicing so hard. We need to practice hard tomorrow and try to get ready for Vanderbilt. Great result for us tonight.”

 

On if he talked to Makayla Epps about her energy in the second half…

“Yeah, I did. I just, right there on the floor, talked to her. We shot the ball 16 more times than Tennessee in the first half. I thought that we had some really good execution. We’re just not a real confident bunch right now and Maci Morris, it’s her first game against Tennessee. It meant a lot to her as a Kentucky kid. She wanted to do well and she was a little rushed tonight and I thought everybody was just pressing so much. I just tried to tell them at halftime, ‘you don’t need to try harder, you need to do it right.’ And we were just breaking down on our fundamental shooting. So I just tried to remind Makayla, just get really fundamentally sound. The attitude she needs to have is that no one can guard her. She is a fantastic player. She has to play with tremendous focus and confidence and she has to do it right with good footwork. She really, really took over in the third quarter and that was a huge positive development for our team. So I just tried to tell her to have some confidence and stop trying so hard and just focus in and do the right thing and shoot on balance and attack the rim and she’d have some success. She did that.”

 

On Janee Thompson’s ankle injury …

“We were really worried. Anytime you are carried off the floor, and it was the same ankle that she hurt at South Carolina, so it was a very traumatic experience for her. She didn’t know if she reinjured it or what. We were so disappointed with our play at Ole Miss. It was just a horrible trip back. We sent her (Thompson) down to Rupp at the men’s game on Saturday, so she saw the doctors down there and they did an x-ray. Everything was intact and that’s when she kind of turned the corner mentally. She’s like, ‘everything is okay.’ She didn’t practice Saturday, just went and got the x-ray. She was able to move a little bit on Sunday and after Sunday’s practice it didn’t swell, nothing bad happened. So I was pretty sure that she was going to play this morning.”

 

On what makes Tennessee’s press so effective…

“They have great players. They have really tall, long, athletic, talented players. They are extremely talented and just so much bigger than us and probably a little bit quicker than us. When they turned that heat up, it was tough. Listen; what you saw at the end of the game, we’ve been looking at in practice. That’s where we are right now. We have a lot of work, but we tried to go against seven guys today. We’re just going to put them in that situation and we just have to get tougher and we have to get the ball in the right spot and we have to start making some winning plays against pressure. I thought we did better at times tonight. Only 10 turnovers is a miracle for us right now. That is really, if you don’t believe in God, you need to go check that out because that’s about like him walking on water right there. That was a good development for us, 10 turnovers.”

 

On the five turnovers in the fourth period…

“We were missing layups. We were breaking Tennessee’s initial pressure then we were going down and we were all running this way. We miss a layup and now Tennessee is trailing and they were getting back.  If we could have made some of those layups we could have closed the game out pretty comfortably, but I told them our defense had been tough all second half. We just needed to believe in our defense. Tennessee missed two layups there at the end of the game. We were fortunate enough that they missed but if we could some of ours it wouldn’t have been as close as it was. Where we are right now, a young, inexperienced team and we just have to find a way to improve everyday and I think we will.”

 

On feeling tight towards the end of the game….

“Oh I don’t think there was any doubt that were feeling it. We were up 10 and it evaporated just like that and there’s no question that we were feeling it and we just have to fight through it. We’ll get out on the other side and we will be a really good team if they keep practicing the way they have been the last two days. It’s like I told them in the locker room, if Tennessee had made that lay up and won by one, we would have felt really bad but we have been in the same boat and we get to come back and practice really hard tomorrow. We need to get started on these defenses that we’re running and just improve.”

 

On the feeling of winning going into the next game…

“Oh, it’s great to win. We learned the lesson without a loss but we’ve got to stay firmly in reality so we know where we are. We’ve got to get a lot better against pressure defense we haven’t played good the last two games.”

 

On the play of three good point guards…

“Well, they’re out there trying to play with the other four players. It’s not just one of them and Taylor (Murray) is young and she has never had to play with her head up. She’s always just been able to get the ball and put her head down and she’s faster than everybody. She’s got to learn and Janee is smaller and she just has to get better and make some winning plays. Then Makayla can’t let her confidence drop as easily as it has with this rough patch for us. I was proud of her in the second half. She played with a lot more confidence.”

 

On coming out winning on the other side….

“We’ve got to get through this tough SEC schedule. They’re just really tough and there’re a lot of lessons to be learned. Vanderbilt will be a totally different team than Tennessee. Tennessee played different than Ole Miss, so we’re just facing all of these things for the first time for a lot of these players and you’ve got to go through it.”

 

On Batouly Camara playing well…

“On what is so good about Batouly is that there is no one who has gotten harder times from the coach this year than Batouly and she just shows up the next day with a smile on her face and try to get better. Now Batouly can make some plays. She just doesn’t know how to play yet. She kind of floats around some and kind of doesn’t play hard enough sometimes but Batouly is going to be a very good player, and the reason she got the start tonight is because she can take a charge. We just went with everyone who can take a charge. Epps has not taken one, nobody else has taken one so we went with Epps. Hopefully she’ll take one before her career is over but we got take charges to be a good defensive team.

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