Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 69 vs Washington State 67 Press Conference Interview

Kentucky Head Coach, Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 69 vs Washington State 67 Press Conference Interview

Opening statement … 

“Well, I was really proud of the team to be able to finish down the stretch and earn a really tough victory. I was very concerned coming into the game about us handling their pressure. We did it well at times – and at times, we didn’t. It was a really up-and-down day for us, but in the end, we won by one more point than necessary, so I am thrilled that we won and it was a great effort for the team and a great result for the team today. It’s easy to see we have a ton (of things to) get better, but to win these two games without Taylor (Murray) is a real testament to our togetherness and our team coming together and everybody just finding a way and chipping in to find a way to win it. So, really, really happy for the team and really proud of this group. We had a 3.517 team GPA for the fall semester and that shows that they are serious students and they are just a great team to coach. Really enjoy being their coach. I’m proud of them and glad they’re going into Christmas break with a win.” 

On the late timeout after the free throw … 
“Yeah, we were going to advance the ball in case. If she made it, we were going to call the timeout. On the miss, at that point in time we probably could have dribbled it out and gotten down the floor and still got the same result, but we were able to advance it and get it to Maci (Morris). Maci had dislocated her finger right there at the end of the game and probably should have run that play for (Makayla) Epps or someone else. Evelyn (Akhator) was really hot from the free throw line, but it all worked out in the end.” 

On what worked so well in the first quarter … 
“We were able to get into our four-out set that we had rehearsed this morning and we haven’t had a lot of reps. I feel like we probably felt like we could relax a bit and we probably didn’t have to move as much and then I thought our offense – which is a bad trait that this team must work on – is when we make shots, we get much more energetic and play tougher on the defensive end. And then when we aren’t making shots, we tend to kind of withdraw from the fight on the defensive end. In the first half, we were able to move the ball, we were patient, didn’t dribble too much, and just got some beautiful looks. I was very surprised at how well that looked. And then, in the second quarter we looked a lot more like I thought we were going to look like. So, I was grateful for that first quarter. It was a good quarter for us.” 

On Maci Morris’ pinky injury … 
“Dislocated. So they just popped it right back in. She just walked over and right back into the game.” 

On if the injury is as severe as Taylor Murray’s … 
“We don’t know. We don’t think so.”

On where this team is relative to his preseason expectations … 
“Coming into the season, I was just trying to find a way to figure out what our best would be. I didn’t know. We had some good pieces, but I just didn’t know we would come together. So, for where we are right now – I’m really proud with the results. We need to get so much better at so many things. Not having Taylor Murray is pretty glaring and so what a great job that everybody did to just kind of fill in and beat a team that is much better than their record (Washington State). That’s a really tough team right there and they’re missing two of their best players, so they’re a really quality team and Taylor could have helped us today. I’m proud of our fight. We’ve lost some close games to some really good opponents. I don’t know exactly what all that means, but I do think a third of the way through that when we hustle, and we don’t turn the ball over and we talk a little bit on defense we have a chance to be in games and play well. I don’t know how good we will eventually be, but I know we need to get better from this point, but I’m really proud of them to this point.”

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