Thursday, November 17, 2016

Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 92 vs New Hampshire 43 Press Conference Interview

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 92 vs New Hampshire 43 Press Conference Interview

Opening Statement…
“Good win today. Really happy the team came out with energy. I was really proud of their attitude, enthusiasm and energy in warmups and it led into the game. I just thought we played hard today. We have some hard-working kids who really came out and played that way and we just have to keep working. We have so many things we need to get better at doing. Just need to keep practicing and working hard, but proud of them today. They got out there and hustled. It was a good victory.”

On UK’s three-point shooting…
“I think we will need to be a good three-point shooting team to be successful and clearly today we had some open looks. I thought when (Makenzie) Cann got going it just took a lot of pressure off everybody else. You have a big lead and you’re playing with rhythm and knocking some shots down, that’s good. We’ll need to be able to make those in high-pressure situations in really tough games, but it’s great to see the ball go in the basket. I thought, for the most part, we took really good shots today. One thing this team is doing is we share the ball. They’re very unselfish. They’re knocking open shots down. They’re taking good shots. They’re not turning the ball over. All of those things are really good for our team.”

On Makenzie Cann’s versatility on the offensive end of the floor…
“She’s just a very good basketball player. She just has… the thing I think that makes her very dangerous is you have to get out there and guard her, but then she can put the ball on the floor. She got to the basket some today. She had some really nice passes. She has a great feel (for the game). The thing about Makenzie is she’s not just an offensive player. So many times a kid that is a good shooter is just a good shooter and that’s all she is. She really hustles on defense. Same thing with Jess Hardin, they’re both very good shooters and help our team but both of them battle on the defensive end and hustle. They’re really important to us, both of those kids.”

On what areas he wants to see improvement in…
“New Hampshire played really hard but they just weren’t able to exploit us. We’re struggling in transition defense. We’ve really got to work on that over the coming weeks leading up to conference play. You’ll get really, really hurt in the SEC is you can’t play good transition defense. That has to take a step forward. With all the other things we’ve been working on and trying to figure out how to play, our transition defense just isn’t where I’d like it to be. So we’ve really got to find some time once these games settle down. We’ve got to work hard tomorrow to see if we can improve it, because Colorado can really take advantage of us in transition. The thing I like about our team is we will get there and be a good transition defense team because these kids work so hard and have such good attitudes. We’ll figure that part out, but that needs to improve. We’ll go to work on it.”

On Evelyn Akhator’s consistency…
“It’s really great. Another real hard worker. Not doing too much and really playing under control. Only one turnover and last year at this time it was three, four, five turnovers a game just because she was so unsettled. Really played a beautiful game. Evelyn, and all of us, just need to work to get better on defense and I’m sure she will, but it’s great to see her out there playing with energy and under control. Really good.”

On his team’s tempo…“I’m very pleased when we’re able to make plays in transition. We have an explosive team and I thought Makayla set the tone really early on that showed we were going to be on the attack. We have some talented players in transition and it’s a key weapon for us, so I am pleased with that. It’s something we’ll have to continue to work on. I think for us, we just need to keep working and try to get in the very best shape we can get in and be the kind of team that can put our foot on the gas pedal and play with some tempo.”

On how deep the rotation may end up being…
“We’re working really, really hard with our bench, spending individual time. I thought Jaida Roper really benefitted. We spent some individual time over the past few days with Jaida. Coach Elzy did a really great job with some individual work before and after practice and spending time with Jess (Hardin) and Paige (Poffenberger) trying to develop them and see what happens. I think Jess is really a key part to our plans. Paige is just so smart and works so hard and hustles so much. We’re really trying to develop her where she can come in and give us some minutes. I don’t know that it’ll be a lot of minutes but we’ll see. I’m not counting her out because she just works so hard and is so intelligent. Eight or nine (in the rotation) would be great but what’s really key for us is we’ve got to keep the three-post rotation with Makenzie in there, finding out where we can balance them out. You can do it with a three-person rotation but you’ve got to play real smart, not foul and they’ve got to hustle. I just am really impressed with how hard the kids work, how good their attitude is. We just need to keep grinding every day and see how things shape out.”

On first upcoming road game at Colorado…
“A great night of hustle. We’re not a finished product. We need to work on our transition defense, got to do a better job on the boards and learn how to box out in the zone. I’d love to see the team go out, work real hard tomorrow to try and get better and then play their guts out Saturday night and see what happens. It’ll be a great trip for us. Really looking forward to traveling with this team.” 

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