Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Video/Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Pre-Morehead State Press Conference Interview

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Mattthew Mitchell Pre-Morehead State Quotes

Opening Statement … 
“Well, it is good to be back in Lexington. It was a tough trip out to Colorado. I thought the team really learned a lot from that game. So it was good to get back and we had some good work yesterday and we will have to work hard today and tomorrow to get prepared for a Morehead State team that is off to a very good start. They are very well coached and can really spread you out and drive the ball, which we struggled with early in the season. So we have a lot of work to do between now and tomorrow night to get ready for a good Morehead State team.” 

On what the main things UK took away from the loss at Colorado …
“Well, one is we have to play with great energy. We were a little flat. We discussed it as a team that no matter how difficult the circumstance was, you know, we played Thursday and then flew out Friday and then played Saturday and it was just a tough trip on the team. And we just didn’t have the energy that we had had in the first three games. So it was a great lesson there that we have to find some way to be enthusiastic every time we take the floor. Then, we struggled against the 2-3 zone and just made some uncharacteristic turnovers, but I think it was just a lack of experience against that. You know, just things that we can do better and attack a zone better and play harder on defense. So there were some good things to take away. We really worked hard last night, I was really proud of the team for how they bounced back.” 

On Evelyn Akhator and Makayla Epps carrying the load for the team and if they are taking enough shots …
“Well, one thing is that we did not move the ball well enough against the 2-3 zone and there were things that you just have to do against the 2-3 zone as a post player. So Evelyn just needs to be finding bodies to seal and post and create angles so you can get the ball to her and she just kind of floated all night. I think it’s just more learning how to really attack the 2-3 zone and I think we will see a lot of zone because we sprinted out to a good lead against their man-to-man and I think they figured, ‘well, we are not going to be able to guard them in man-to-man,’ so they went to the zone and it slowed us down. What we need to be able to do in the zone is make sure there are opportunities for Evelyn and Makayla to get the ball in crucial times. So I think that will come with increased work and it is still just so early in the season, they will get better at it.” 

On if he has a number of shots he is wanting Makayla to take during a game …
“Well, we just want her to either take really good shots or set her teammates up. So if there are three people on her and she can pass the ball to the goal – an assist is as good as a shot. I think if you put a specific number on her, that is an artificial thing that then leads to maybe some poor decisions. We just want her to make some good decisions. She knows that she is important and knows that she needs to take a lot of shots, but they need to be good and she had done fine with that. I think it was just a very uncharacteristic game for us from just an energy standpoint and that was my biggest takeaway.” 

On whether or not Evelyn Akhator emerging as the leading scorer is surprising…
“Well, I think by season’s end, she and Makayla will be neck-and-neck. They’re a great one-two punch. Nothing really that she does surprises me when it comes down to work ethic. She’s just a tireless worker and she’s spent a lot of time since the day she stepped on campus to improve. She’s a really special person from that standpoint. She wants to win – wants to win for her teammates and does a great job of developing the gifts that the great Lord’s given her. And she’s really spent a lot of time shooting and getting better as a shooter, and developing more polished off in some games. It doesn’t surprise me. If you’re around her every day, it doesn’t surprise you. She’s a tireless worker.” 

On what will be the biggest challenge against Morehead State…
“Well, I think was concerns me is just they’re very, very aggressive and they have some outstanding offensive schemes to try to isolate the player they want to take the shot, and when that breaks down, they’re really aggressive on driving the ball. So, we didn’t do a great job of keeping the ball in front of us Saturday night and we need to do better because when you’re playing a team when you’re maybe a little bit bigger, the way they can equalize the game is layups, the free-throw line and the 3-point line, and they can really get to the rim. They attack the rim, and so we’ve got to do a good job defensively staying in front of them.”

On if anything has been a pleasant surprise so far this season…
“Well, I don’t know if it’s surprising, but they’re just a great group of kids to be around. Our team is a really great group. Their effort is outstanding. Their attitudes are great. You could tell last night when we were trying to talk about what we need to do to get better, they were receiving that just with open minds and open hearts and that’s a lot of fun to coach. When you’re not having to coach attitude and effort, it really is enjoyable from a coaching perspective. So, you know, we’re still trying to find our footing. We’re not a finished product by any means. It’s still very early for us. We’ll just keep working, but I really believe in them because of how hard they work.”

On his positivity after the loss to Colorado…
“I think you could’ve stayed home and played maybe a team with lesser talent, much like I really enjoyed watching the team beat New Hampshire on Thursday. We got a lot out of that game, from people playing hard and building some confidence and making shots. Those things are necessary early in the season and are good, but I really feel like we learned a lot too by going on the road, going through some adversity and, you know, getting beat there is only a negative thing if we don’t learn the lesson from it. So, this stage of the season, to go on the road and play in a tough spot, a tough place to play, I think you can learn a lot from that. So, it certainly was, in my mind, something we could build from and something we could find meaningful and positive things to work on and get better from. So, I thought it was… You never want to lose, and you hate to lose and it stinks to lose, but we lost the game, so how are we going to benefit? So, that’s my message to them. There’s a lot we can do and learn and I thought we got better, like Coach Dunn said at the end of practice, we were better at the end of practice than we were when we started. And that’s what it’s all about. We’ve just got to seek that constant improvement

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