Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement…
“Well, it’s a very difficult game. Washington State’s extremely talented. They play awfully hard, well coached. They played a tough schedule, so they’re battle tested and ready to go. They have great size. They have great perimeter shooting. Made 13 3s in their last game, so they’re capable behind the 3-point stripe. So, it’s a real challenge for our team but the players have worked hard yesterday, worked real hard this morning and we’re just going to try to really get locked in, focused in and see if we can earn what would be a real great victory for us.”

On how this year is different from this time last year heading into conference play…

“Well, you know, we are approaching it pretty much the same. I don’t know that there’s any real big differences. I think what’s been so great with us, we’ve played such a difficult schedule and there have seen so many different things and so many challenges that they’ve had to face it’s been good for us. We pretty much know what we have to do every day. We’ve got to come out with a great competitive spirit. We’ve got to be a real focused basketball team because everybody’s got to bring their best every day. There are no practice guys here during the holidays. You know, I can’t get frustrated with somebody and just say, ‘Hey, just stand over there,’ and bring somebody else in. Everybody’s got a role to play in practice. So, really it helps us stay accountable every day and focus in. So, I would just say that if there’s any difference I just have to be extra sharp as a coach of coaching people through difficulties instead of getting upset with them and putting them out and bringing somebody else in. So that’s been good for me as a coach, but we’ve got a real conscientious group. They work hard. They make plenty of mistakes and we get upset in practice at times. That’s sort of normal. It’s a great group and they’re working hard and everybody’s trying to bring out the best in each other. So that’s how we’re approaching it right now.”

On what they do in practice being a little shorthanded without those practice players…
“We just go real, real intense, for you know, 25 or 30 minute bursts as hard as we can go. We’re doing a lot of shooting. So we’ll come in and shoot then we’ll go back at it. You know, just managing it. You know, the players, we’ve finally got to a spot where just talking to each other. You’ve got to stop worrying about it but everybody keeps bringing it up. You’ve got more than enough to get it done. They’ve really responded in practice. The practices are very intense and players are responding well to it. We’ll have to play real hard tomorrow, I’ll tell you that.”

On if he’s worried about this game being the last game before the holiday break…
“Yeah, like everybody, if they’re like me, if you’re human looking forward to that. I’m going to see my family. I can’t wait to see my family. It’s definitely on my mind. We just try to talk about it real honestly and openly. It’s just really, really important that we take care of our business before we check out for the break. They don’t appear to have a lack of focus. They really went at it hard this morning, really responded to some adversity in practice this morning. So, they don’t look like they are, you know, checked out mentally and I don’t anticipate that will be a problem. But you do, at least I do worry about that and I’ll try to address that with the team and try to be real upfront and honest with them and say, ‘It’s just too important of a game to let it slip by.’ We have it within our grasp to really finish out the non-conference schedule and navigate it well and we just can’t let up now. We’ve got to put our foot on the gas here and try to finish it out.”

On if they are focusing on making Maci more aggressive or if it’s a necessity as teams try to take out Makayla…
“Well, you know, I thought that all of us in the last game were trying to find our footing without Taylor (Murray) out, so that was one thing. And then one thing that we did as a team, we tried to reestablish a post presence and so I really think it was more of Maci trying to find the open post player and we tweaked the offense just a little bit to try to reestablish that post game. So I think everybody was trying to get the ball inside and get the post more touches. Maci’s a really smart offensive player. She knows what’s necessary and what needs to be done. So no, I wasn’t concerned about how she played.”

On whether Taylor is on track to return to play after the break…
“We’ll wait and see. It just depends on how the bone heals. It’s looking really good and our doctors are optimistic. You just don’t know. We won’t rush that or rush her back. We need to make sure she’s ready to go. A lot of times if you’re not full speed I think that’s when you open yourself up to injury when you’re trying to compensate and you’re trying to think your way through, you’re a half step slow and you’re not playing full speed. We’re hopeful. We’re hopeful she’ll be back after Christmas but we’ll see. She’s going to be fine and she’ll be back at some point.”

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