Saturday, November 12, 2016

Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 70 vs Albany 46 Press Conference Interview

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 70 vs Albany 46 Press Conference Interview

Opening statement …
“Well, we really proud of our team, proud of our players. This was a good win for us. Albany made it hard on us. We haven’t spent a lot of time on zone offense and I was really proud of our players staying the course and grinding out a really tough game. It’s been a tough 24 hours after that tough, hard-fought victory over a good Miami team. To come back and be able to earn a victory was just awesome. I am so proud of our team for how we performed this weekend and we will do nothing but get better from here. Great couple of days and really looking forward to what we can become as a team.”

On if he is worried about outside shooting …
“No, I thought tonight was going to be a real challenge for us to bounce back and some of the kids played some really tough, long minutes last night and I thought we wanted to try and get the ball inside tonight because I wasn’t exactly sure where our legs would be this time of year and just proud we were able to gut it out. They laid it on the line last night, I mean they gave everything they had and for them to turn around here and have this performance tonight was great. Tonight will not be the best we play, and we will learn from that – but to be able to grind it out and get a victory, I’m really proud of them and really happy with this win.”

On why it was important to play the style he played tonight …
“We needed to get the ball inside because we felt like we had some advantages inside with Evelyn (Akhator) and Alyssa (Rice). I was real proud of the team.”

On his rebounding concerns out of the zone …
“I thought we needed it to get the two wins. It will get better. We didn’t rebound well out of it tonight, but that’s a credit to Albany. We had no film on Albany and really had no idea what they were going to run. We had to adjust on the fly and they were running an action that was really distorting the zone and the kids were hustling, but we were out of rebounding position almost all night long. We need to clean that up, but I think it’s going to be a great defense for us. The kids hustle and make plays. We will have to keep working on it. We get a couple of days here before we play our next game and we are going to try and see if we can improve our zone defense. It helped us this weekend.”

On the resiliency of winning after a tough game last night …
“It was great. It was really good after that tough one last night where so many people played high-volume minutes. It was great. Maci (Morris) was the rock out there tonight and was really the player we couldn’t have done without. She played 33 minutes and everyone else was under 30. That was great after last night. It was good to get 10 players in there and it was good to get a victory. Proud of the team.”

On the improved free-throw shooting …
“I think that last night was just one of those nights where it’s going be the exception, not the normal. I think we are a good free-throw shooting team. Kids work hard, spend a lot of time on it and that was a great development for us tonight. To score 21 points at the free throw line was big for us.”

On the character of his team to play tough after a tough game last night …
“I thought that our players had high character, but it’s until you get into an environment like last night and have to bounce back tonight and play against a really tough team. That makes you feel like you have a very high-character team that has a willingness to win. We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination – we have flaws – but man they are fun to coach. They have great attitudes, a great work ethic, but I am so proud of them. They are a great, great group of people and I think we found out we have some explosiveness on offense and feel like that we can probably switch defenses with this team and have some success. This was a great weekend for this team and we learned a lot in two games. We are looking forward to getting back to work this week.” 

On the evaluation of Evelyn Akhator’s career-best performance tonight …
“She just was very patient tonight, and I thought we finally got into some rhythm and slowed down and I just thought she made some great decisions. She had zero turnovers. That’s huge for her. With that many touches – a year ago – she would have had two or three traveling violations and she was so poised with the ball and really made some explosive plays. She made her free throws, she was 8-for-8 which is huge for her because she gets fouled a lot. She has worked hard on her game, improved and told me before the game that she was going to have a good night. I’m really proud of her. She is a great, great player and person. We needed her tonight. I think that’s the kind of team that we will have. We’ll just have to find ways to win games. Nobody on this team cares who gets the credit. The only thing people care about is winning. It’s a fun team to coach.”

On Alyssa Rice’s night …
“She had a good night. She really played hard, thought she was aggressive, thought she was at the right place at the right time. It was a good night for her.”

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