Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 74 vs Morehead State 47 Press Conference Interview

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 74 vs Morehead State 47 Press Conference Interview

Opening statement…

“Well, it was a good victory for us tonight. Morehead State really challenged. They’re a good team. They’re really well coached. It was tough out there tonight. I thought that we made some mistakes tonight. Clearly, we have a lot to work on and get better, but proud of the team for hustling through and getting the victory.”

On Taylor Murray improving her game…
“What I loved about Taylor tonight, more than her offense, was her defense. We’ve been really talking to her and really encouraging her to try to get her going defensively. We need her to be a leader for us and a star on defense, and that is what I’m most proud of her for tonight. I thought she really tried. She wasn’t looking for comfort tonight, trying to get off the ball. She really got after it tonight and that was outstanding. I think Morehead’s game plan was to play off of her, and there’s nothing better than seeing a good player use her footwork with confidence. And that was really a great night for Taylor Murray. Last year she was a back up to Janee (Thompson) and Makayla (Epps). Really whatever she gave you was sort of a bonus. This year, it is on her now and it’s a new roll for her and I’m really pleased with her development.”

On Morehead State not having a field goal for a 15-minute span…
“The first quarter, I think they only made one as well and then there was the five 3s. We tried to talk about it at the break between the first and second quarter. I think we played some good defense. I think they missed some shots that they normally make. I don’t know if that was all of our defense. We’re trying to get better defensively. We are now means where we want to be. We just have a lot of work to do, and that’s where we are right now. I continue to say that I believe in these kids and what they’ll do. It was a tough trip out to Colorado, and I’m just proud they came back and worked and got better. We were glad to win tonight.”

On talking to Makayla Epps when she was struggling…
“I thought she and Evelyn (Akhator) both let missed shots affect them. If the defense is going to stop you that is one thing, but if you stop yourself, that’s not good. I thought she was really rushing and pressing. She just needs to believe in her abilities and not rush. Make sure you stay calm and believe in her abilities and know that the shots will start falling. She came back with a big second half and started making shots which was good. I was trying to get her to understand that she was stopping herself. It wasn’t anything that the defense was doing. She was just getting deep in the lane and not making shots. She just needed to work on those finishes, and I thought she did a better job with that in the second half.”

On playing zone…
“We’re trying. We’re not very good at it right now. We have so much to learn and so much improvement. I believe that it is going to have to be our plan. We’re trying to improve the zone. We have worked the last couple of days and it’s going to be a slow go of it, but I saw some improvement tonight. We’ll have to work on it but I do think that is a part of our defense that we’ll have to rely on at times.”

On rebounding out of zone…
“There were three things that we tried to get better at coming out of the Colorado game. We desperately need to improve in transition defense. We worked hard on that. I think we made some progress on that. We were getting beat on the boards against Colorado. We worked a lot with two-three zone defense and trying to attack it. Coach Todd played a lot of two-three zone last year and I thought he was going to this year, but pretty much man-to-man. I do feel like we got better in those three areas, but I thought the rebounding was better. We have to be really strong, technical rebounders. We have to box out and push back. Besides Evelyn (Akhator), we don’t have much size. So, we’re going to have to out work and out smart people.”

On using these early games to prepare for future games…
“For our particular team, with everything that we went through… I’m really happy with what they’re doing and we’re relying on a lot of inexperienced players who will continue to get better and they’re hard workers and great kids. I think that tonight showed a lot of things that we need to get better at doing. I thought the Colorado game showed us what we need to get better at, and I am really happy with the schedule and what we need to work on right now and we just have to keep working.”

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