Thursday, March 31, 2016

Video: Offensive Coordinator Eddie Gran on His Game-Day Approach

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv
Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran gets on his players Sunday through Friday, but keeps an even keel on Saturday.

Transcript: UK Football Offensive Coordinator Eddie Gran on Spring Progress

On how practice was today: “We were inconsistent today. We weren’t as good as we need to be. There’s no excuse for that. On offense you have to be consistent. We have to be better on first down efficiency. We’re throwing on third downs, we’re on red zones, so we’re getting all of the situations. In the scrimmage last week we were really good on third down. Here, I think we were probably a little bit less today on third down. We’ll see when we go in there and we chart it. Just from what I remember it wasn’t consistent enough.”

If inconsistency is mental at this point: “Absolutely. They’re giving great effort. They’re competing, they’re having fun. But now it becomes just the mental part of it. It’s all in now. We didn’t install anything today so there’s no more excuses. Game’s over. It’s time for you to learn it and it’s time for you now—this is where technique takes place. If you want to win outside as a receiver, up front, it’s all about technique. Perfect steps, know where to go and do it fast.”

On Drew Barker: “Today was inconsistent. If you look at that scrimmage he was five for five. He led, did everything you ask a quarterback to do. Then you come back today and not so good. Threw too many interceptions. If he throws an interception and he comes back, coach Hinshaw did a great job today of getting him to recover. That’s what our quarterback has to do. I did see some good things, but we’re going to stay on him. Those guys have to be great. They just can’t be average. They can’t be inconsistent. If they’re inconsistent then we’re in trouble.”

On Mikel Horton saying everyone had a fair chance and if that’s changed some attitudes: “I don’t think there’s any question. Again, I wasn’t here last year or anything like that, but I don’t have any issues with my group. You can see as we’ve moved (Ryan) Timmons around a little bit and he’s pushing other guys. I told him after today that the depth chart can change going into Saturday. Everyday you have to compete. That’s how we’ll be great and continue to get better.”

On if Timmons could see time in the backfield: “Not right now. Right now we have two more freshmen coming in. I’m going to have a pretty good stable back there.”

On what he’s seen from Mikel and who he reminds him of: “He runs a little tall sometimes. You’d like to get his pad level down, but Deuce McAllister ran tall. And I’m not comparing him to Deuce right now, but I’m just telling you in terms of one of his characteristics that he does is he runs tall. He has to drop his pads more because he weighs 225 pounds. What I do like is he’s finishing things. When things aren’t there, it’s second down and six, to me that’s a back that is going forward. That’s a back that has good leg drive. Second down and six is a much better call than second down and 10 and second down and nine. Our efficiency runs we have to be over 55 percent on first down, four yards or better.”

On Darin Hinshaw expressing a need for accuracy: “Two-fold there. One, yes, you have to be accurate. They can be better at that. But second, if the ball is right here, catch the ball. That’s the consistency part. It’s not going to be perfect from the quarterbacks. Those guys have to earn their scholarships too.”

On how it helps the running backs to know every part of the offense: “They know what the quarterback is thinking on protection and they can see rotations, and they understand, then there job is going to be easier. Pre-snap, post-snap, everything. I think it’s important for everybody to know. I know when Coach Hinshaw is coaching and someone does something wrong, he’s letting them know because he’s not the only kid getting chewed. I think it helps him to understand when guys aren’t doing the right things. But for them to know what the quarterback is thinking, especially in blitz and the run game, if they know how to block and how everything is supposed to be done, I think they just become better backs.”

On if there’s extra pressure on RBs to know more in his system: “Absolutely. Absolutely. And they know that. I told them from the get-go. And they like it. Most days they like it.”

On making off-field activities competitive: “Just in the classroom, whether or not you got study hall hours, who’s gonna go this week without doing a tutor, and make it competitive. Put it on paper and show ‘em. But that’s part of the culture, that’s part of the stuff that’s happening as a team anyway from the head football coach. I just try to get it to another level inside, you know? Let’s whip the defense today as a group offensively. Let’s be better. That’s who we’re competing against right now. Let’s have the least amount of anything. Let’s be perfect. Just try to keep it at a competitive level, everything you do.

On what he does specifically to teach ball security: “Emphasizing it, I don’t talk about turnovers. I just talk about ball security, how you handle it every single day. We talk about the points of pressure, we talk about the wrist above the elbow, high and tight. When you’re in trouble, double. Lock that thing right there and reduce the surface. We give ‘em little key points and they’re getting hammered in the meeting if I see any air. You just got to go to where it becomes a habit. When he makes a cut, I’m not into switching the ball. You don’t switch the ball in traffic. You learn how to give a shoulder boom, go near leg, near shoulder with the ball in your hand. You learn how to do that when you get stuck. Those are things we’re honing in on.”

On if he slows film down to show RBs when they’re holding ball too far from body: “Yes I do. Yes I do. (On if that makes for a long meeting.) “No, I go fast. But not during the slow-mo.”

On where offense is now that installs are complete: ”I think they’re a little ahead right now. Saturday will be a great test for us, because you’ve got the five installs – and we’ve got some miscellaneous stuff that we’re gonna put in to try to do some stuff to try to help our defense, to help us to see if our guys can do that. But the meat of the offense is in, so now you’re gonna have some short-yardage stuff, now you’re gonna have some situations where you’re in the red zone. Our red zone package last week – we didn’t have one. They didn’t have red zone defense. We were just playing. But now you have red zone offense, red zone defense. Now windows become tighter. You got to play down there now. You got to understand the situations. So I’m excited about them, excited to see where we’re at. I think they’ll play with great energy and great competitiveness, but now I want to see if, when the bullets are flying, we don’t know it’s blitz and they bring it, are we gonna protect, are we gonna make plays?”

On if there’s back and forth between offense and defense to give each other different looks: “That’s right. And if they have it in, (Eliot will) run it and vice versa. If they need a personnel and they need to see this run, then we’ll run it. We’ll do whatever they need. That’s the great thing about spring ball. It’s the great thing about working with each other. You got to be able to bend like that. You got to be able to do that. If our quarterback’s seen a certain coverage against this route all the time, ‘Hey, D.J., I need one high this time.’ Boom, no problem. He changes it and we go. That’s a good part about having a relationship.”

On yelling at a RB last Saturday near the red zone, how they respond to that: “Next time he’ll put his pads down and go score. Here’s the deal about red zone: When you get inside the 5-yard line, we can not block everybody. The numbers aren’t right. You can not. There’s always one guy. That’s the running back’s guy, and if you want to play in this offense and you want to be the starting guy and you want to have a lot of touchdowns, then you better learn how to drop pad and you better be able to get profile tackle and take a guy in the endzone for two or three yards. If you can’t do that then you will not play when we get to the red zone.”

On if he’s as comfortable at Kentucky as he sounds: “You know what, the last three years have been the best thing for me, in terms of just learning, coordinating. Like we talked about before, when Mark (Stoops) maybe making a change before, I wasn’t ready. I’m ready. It was a lot of learning. I mean, I made a lot of mistakes, still going to make them, still going to make them, but it does, it feels more comfortable.”

On if he feels better about himself as a coach: “Yes, yes. Absolutely. You learn a lot when you’re calling plays for the first time and the bullets start flying, you talk about your players, I’m going to tell you now, it’s something different. You’re in no huddle and you get a first down on the 18-yard line and you have to get a play called, I mean, it happens fast and some of them, I’ve done really good at and some of them, I’ve done really bad at. Hopefully I can learn from that and when that situation comes up again, man, I’m going to be ‘Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.’”

On evaluating progress in offense versus defense; offense excelling versus defense messing up: “That’s a good question. I think what you look for is when guys are going; and like today, it wasn’t the greatest on offense in terms of the execution all the time, but you saw guys … We’d throw one down the field on a one-on-one matchup and our guy caught it. On a contested catch, boom, you gain 35 yards. Then two plays later, the DB, I mean right at the last second, there’s competitiveness and they’re competitive plays. There’s not a guy just wide open. That’s easy. We want to make those tough ones when the quarterback’s got to step up. That’s kind of how I’m engaging it, seeing when things go bad, how are they reacting? And that’s when I’ve been excited about them, learning how to recover. Gotta have a short-term memory. Man, I’m playing (play) No. 5 and if you mess up, there are 75 more plays left. Let’s go. I told them, ‘Watch me on Saturday, guys. I’m going to stress you from Sunday to Friday. It’s going to be as hard as it can be, but on Saturday, you’re going to see me like this’ (runs hand in a straight horizontal line). I’m never going to get too high; I’m never going to get too low. I think that’s important. I think it’s important for our players to know that and see that. I didn’t yell at one person on Saturday. Not one person.”

On if that’s a conscious decision: “Absolutely. I’ve learned. I’ve learned it from other coordinators. I’ve watched how other coordinators have coordinated. Coach Peterson at Washington, who was at Boise, that was a big philosophy for him: Stress your quarterbacks, stress your players. Go. Tempo. So Saturday should be easy. I asked my running backs, ‘What’d you think about Saturday?’ And they said, ‘Man, Coach, that was easy.’ And it should be. It should be easier now. You slow it down, you bring them in. They should know what to do by then. If they don’t, that’s on us. So don’t get mad at them if they screw up, that’s on us. Know what to do, feel comfortable in it and then get them cranked up. It’s my job to get them -- if they do something wrong, don’t go over and rip the kid, he feels bad enough. That’s practice. In the game, fix it and move on.”

On if it’s tough not to yell at a player on Saturday: “No. I’ve got to go to the next play; and that’s some of the things I’ve learned. I’m watching, we get a 40-yard pass and we get to the 5-yard line and I’m whooping and hollering, ‘Yeah, this is great.’ But now things have changed for me. I’ve got a goal-line package to run; you’ve got new personnel you’ve got to get in there. So I’ve learned. Coach Tuberville did a good job with me, to help me understand that hey, you can’t watch the game. Lane Kiffin, being around Bobby Petrino, being around those guys and watching how they — and then we all three have different styles.”

On if he says something in a player’s ear coming off the field on a Saturday: “Yes, but it’s not going to be where, I’m not going to tear him up like I might in practice, but it’s a tough love, now. I’m not cussing the kid or anything like that. I’m going to make him better. But if he puts the ball on the ground or something, on Saturday, I’m going go and tap him on the rear end and say, ‘Hey, we gotta go.’ At least I try. It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s how they should see me on game day. They don’t need a guy who’s calling the plays out of control and if we get down by two touchdowns, panicking. You don’t want your offense like that. You want your offense to say, ‘OK. Let’s pull our heads out of our rear ends, let’s pull together, let’s call better plays. Let’s execute and let’s go score and get our defense back in this game.’ With our offense, you’d like to think it’s a down the field, explosive offense. That if you do recover, that we can score quickly, especially in up-tempo.”

Transcript: UK Football Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach DJ Eliot discuss Spring Progress

“Today was a competitive practice, which you like to see that. We went into the indoor because of the rain and didn’t lose focus. Sometimes when you change the scenery you get concerned the guys are going to lose focus. Different spots, different locations, got to be at different places, but we didn’t lose focus. We practiced very hard. We weren’t perfect. A lot of fundamental things that we need to get better at, but what I liked seeing was the competitiveness. Guys were competing. Offense won their share of battles, we won our share of battles, but I was very pleased with the kid’s energy, the effort, the attention to detail and the focus in today’s practice.”

On if energy lets him now defense is not just exploiting offense’s errors: “That’s a very good question, and that’s something that we harp on as coaches. You’re not concerned if you’re successful because they messed up. That’s not good defense. If they made a mistake and you got an interception, that’s not good defense. That’s them making a mistake. You want to see clean play on both sides of the ball, and when there is clean play who makes the play. Everybody executes their assignment, everybody plays proper technique. Now, who finishes and makes the play? And you’re exactly right. That’s what we look for.”

On if they cleaned up the issues from scrimmage: “They did. The biggest thing for us – we’re young at some spots – is to learn to compete and to play with urgency at those spots. Those are the things I’ve been harping on this spring: Playing fast, playing physical, playing with energy, playing with enthusiasm. The fundamental things, they’ll catch up with reps, but controlling the controllables is the main thing. I did see an improvement in that from Saturday.”

On what he likes about De’Niro Laster at different positions: “He’s big enough and very fast off the edge, so that makes him a good outside linebacker. But he’s athletic enough to go inside and cover in space and play sideline to sideline as an inside linebacker. So he has the skills to be successful at both. Some people don’t. Some people, I think their talents are more specific. They’re either just an inside linebacker or just and outside linebacker. I think that Laster has the skills to be successful at both.”

On what will determine which spot he sticks at: “Well, our best 11 will play. We’ll put our best 11 on the field.”

On if he can practice at either position and still play both: “No, you need reps at both. You definitely need reps at both, but some things you can catch on quicker than others and some things you need to rep. So wherever we decide is the best spot for him, we’ll get him caught up.”

On if finally has enough depth for what they need: “No, I don’t. I think that we’ve got to continue to develop depth. We lost some critical guys last year, especially up front. You lost Melvin Lewis, you lost Farrington (Huguenin), you lost Cory Johnson. We’ve got some guys that are working with the ones right now that had playing time, but everybody behind them has never stepped on the field at the defensive line position. I think that we have to continue to develop depth there. I think we’re actually more veteran – I say veteran, but we have sophomores – in the secondary. I think that we need to continue to develop our defensive line depth.”

On if he can ever see the point where he has enough depth: “Yes. (Laughter). I can see it. I can see it, and I tell you what we’ll all be celebrating at my house. But I can see it.”

On how important it is for seniors like Blake McClain and Marcus McWilson to step up with so many new faces on defense: “It’s critical. I think in any sport the more juniors and seniors you have, the more schematics, the more fundamentally sound players are. Our team at certain positions are starting to have some juniors and seniors that have played for quite a bit. Some of those being some of the safeties like you talked about. I think that’s critical.”

On how the secondary is adapting to Steve Clinkscale: “Very well, very well. He’s an excellent coach. He coaches with a lot of energy, he’s very knowledgeable. The players have responded to him. It’s been a very smooth transition.”

On having to coach Laster to use his hands rather than just rely on his physicality: “You never take the physicality out of it, but you want him to be physical in the right way. Anytime that a better player faces a worse player, the better player doesn’t have to use technique to win. As soon as you play somebody who is just as good as you then the technician is going to win. So it’s critical that every one of our players play with fundamentals and use technique. With De’Niro specifically, he had not played outside linebacker before. His entire career at Minnesota was inside, so some of those techniques are unique to that position. So we’re really working with him to become fundamentally sound at outside linebacker.”

On how Laster is picking those fundamentals up: “Good. I’ve already seen improvements. I can remember day one there was some major mistakes and then day two and day three on the exact same play he played it correct.”

On starters responding to his challenge Saturday: “The guys going with the ones – I don’t call any of them starters, but the guys going with the ones and the guys going with the twos, I challenged them in the fact that I saw more energy in different groups. I want to see it as a whole. I want everybody to play with energy and intensity.”

On if he anticipates changing the defense any this season: “I think that you’re always gonna tweak what you do. We’ve never been the exact same defense year from year. My entire coaching career, everywhere I’ve ever worked, I’ve never said, ‘Hey, just sit back in my chair and we’re just going to do what we did last year.’ You know what I mean? It’s always a growth somewhere. Now, where you tweak it and how you tweak it, you need to make sure you can execute it. You’ll see some new things from us, but our base defense will still be a 3-4.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

UK Player Tyler Ulis Named AP All-America First Team; Consensus First-Team All-American

Among the honors Ulis has received this postseason

  • NCAA Consensus All-America First Team

  • Associated Press All-America First Team

  • Sporting News All-America First Team

  • USBWA All-America Second Team

  • NABC All-America Second Team

  • Wooden Award All-America Team

  • Sports Illustrated All-America First Team

  • CBS Sports All-America First Team

  • SEC Player of the Year (Coaches/AP)

  • SEC Tournament MVP

  • SEC Defensive Player of the Year (Coaches)

  • All-SEC First Team (Coaches/AP)

  • SEC All-Defensive Team (Coaches)

  • USA Today All-America First Team

  • CBS Sports SEC Player of the Year

  • USBWA District IV Player of the Year

  • USBWA All-District IV Team

  • NABC District 21 First Team

  • Naismith Trophy finalist

  • John R. Wooden Award finalist

  • USBWA Oscar Robertson finalist

  • Bob Cousy finalist

UK Player Jamal Murray Named AP All-America Third Team

Murray’s postseason honors list continues to lengthen by the day. Among the honors he’s been recognized for already:

  • AP All-America Third Team

  • All-SEC First Team (Coaches/AP)

  • SEC All-Freshman Team (Coaches)

  • USA Today All-America Second Team

  • All-America Second Team

  • CBS Sports All-America Third Team

  • USBWA Freshman All-America Team

  • Sporting News Freshman All-America Team

  • USBWA All-District IV Team

  • NABC District 21 First Team

  • Wayman Tisdale finalist

UK players Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray named CBS Sports All-American

This is Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis fourth First Team All-American recognition for Ulis, joining Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and USA Today.
Kentucky freshman guard Jamal Murray was selected to the third team.
Kentucky Wildcats | Sophomore | Guard
Comment: The Wildcats' season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but Ulis' sophomore campaign was amazing. He was as important to that group as any other First Teamer was to their squad. Ulis averaged 17.0 points, 7.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals. His assists average was fifth in the country, and he played the 10th-most minutes of anyone in college basketball. His 246 assists set Kentucky's single-season record. John Calipari has developed a sterling reputation for recruiting and developing point guards, and Ulis is among his best ever in that respect.
Kentucky Wildcats | Freshman | Guard
Comment: Thus begins the rookie corner of our All-America team. It wasn't intentional, but the next three names all combined the flashes of their future excellence with impactful on-court performance to help their team and deserve to be honored among the best college players in the country. Murray became Kentucky's dagger-tossing, high-volume scorer, capable of throwing it in the basket from anywhere on the court. Murray averaged 26.4 points per game in February, and though March wasn't as kind to the freshman from north of the border, his season was good enough to earn a spot here on the All-American team.

UK Player Tyler Ulis named Wooden All-American and finalist for the Wooden Award

John R. Wooden Award Presented by Wendy’s 2016 All-Americans

Grayson AllenDukeACC6-5Soph.G
Malcolm Brogdon#VirginiaACC6-5SrG
Kris DunnProvidenceBig East6-4Jr.G
Perry EllisKansasBig 126-8Sr.F
Yogi FerrellIndianaBig Ten6-0Sr.G
Buddy HieldOklahomaBig 126-4Sr.G
Brice JohnsonNorth CarolinaACC6-10Sr.F
Georges NiangIowa StateBig 126-8Sr.F
Tyler UlisKentuckySEC5-9Soph.G
Denzel ValentineMichigan StateBig Ten6-5Sr.G

# indicates player selected as a 2014-15 Wooden Award All-American

Video - An Incredible Ride: The Story of the 2015-16 Wildcats

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

Monday, March 28, 2016

UK Player Tyler Ulis Named NABC All-America Second Team

Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 NCAA Tournament - Elite Eight Sunday Games TV Schedule/Time

All times ET, with the second window of each game slated for 30 minutes after the scheduled conclusion of the first game. So those start times are approximate.



6:09, TBS: No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 10 Syracuse (Harlan/Miller/Bonner/Johnson)

8:49, TBS: No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 6 Notre Dame (Anderson/Smith/Jacobson)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

2016 NCAA Tournament - Elite Eight Saturday Games TV Schedule/Time

All times ET, with the second window of each game slated for 30 minutes after the scheduled conclusion of the first game. So those start times are approximate.



6:09, CBS: No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (Lundquist/Spanarkel/LaForce)

8:49, CBS: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Villanova (Nantz/Raftery/Hill/Wolfson)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Transcript: UK Hoops Head Coach Matthew Mitchell, Makayla Epps, Janee Thompson Post #3 UK Hoops 72 vs #7 Washington 85 Sweet 16 ~ 2016 NCAA Women's Tournament Lexington Region Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky Comments

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us for the press conference for the Kentucky women's basketball team. We're joined by head coach Matthew Mitchell and student-athletes Janee Thompson and Makayla Epps. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH MITCHELL: Well, what a great game tonight for the University of Washington. Just congratulate them. They were outstanding. They were prepared and they played hard, and they made tough shots and big shots and really, really impressed with their performance tonight. So we congratulate them and wish them well as they move forward.

Disappointing night for us. We would have loved to have done better. We had some opportunities in the game, and so you just don't ever want it to end. You want to win the last game, and that was our goal with this team.

But I just have to tell you, this was one of the greatest experiences of my coaching career, working with this group of young women who really became a team. High-character people, came to practice every day and improved, and where we started on October 1st to what we've finished up tonight, the disappointment of this one game just cannot diminish how proud I am of our team. February 3rd we could have gone a lot of different directions and we chose a path to be standing in the Sweet 16. We would love to have advanced further, but it doesn't take away of how proud I am of our players. Really proud of Janee Thompson and the person she's developed into and the leader she's developed into for our team. Really proud of the progress Makayla Epps made as a person, so I'm proud to be up on the podium with both of them tonight. And we are disappointed, but we are proud of our season.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for our student-athletes.

Q. Makayla, you got the lead down to about four or five at halftime from 13 or 15, and then it seemed Washington kind of stretched it out again there early in the third. What happened that you weren't able to build on that momentum early in the third quarter and continue that come back?

MAKAYLA EPPS: Like Coach said, you've got to give a lot of credit to Washington. They came out and played really hard tonight. A very well-coached team. Got a lot of respect for them and all their players. It's just like Coach said yesterday in the press conference: The tougher team would win. And Washington had moments where they out-toughed us. I just hope we can look ourselves in the mirror and just learn from it. We've got a lot of people coming back -- very young team. Got a lot of people coming back. Sad to lose my partner here, Janee Thompson, but we've got a lot of people coming back and we can watch this and learn from it.

Q. Janee, with this being your senior season, what can you say about this team and this season and what it meant for you to be a Hoop Cat?

JANEE THOMPSON: It's meant a lot to me seeing these girls grow and get better every day. It's been very fun. I've become really close with this team and they're like my family. They're like my sisters. I'm really proud of how far we've come and how much better we've gotten. I wouldn't rather be out here with anybody else. It's been a fun ride.

Q. Janee, it seems like it was a really physical battle out there, and Makayla talked about toughness, Coach talked about toughness. Describe how tough it was to be out there in the action on the floor?

JANEE THOMPSON: Well, that's the type of environment this tournament brings. You've got to be tough. People are playing their hardest, because they know if they lose, they're going home. Unfortunately we came up short today, but like Makayla and Coach said, you've got to give Washington credit. They played really hard. They wanted to win, and they just made a few more plays than we did, and they made some really tough plays. We're sad to lose, but we've got to give Washington credit.

Q. Can you talk about how tough and how much effort you put into this game? Obviously, the whole team, but throughout the injury, putting up the numbers that you did and trying to will your team through to the Elite Eight?

MAKAYLA EPPS: When I got out there I didn't think about my shoulder. I couldn't get that in the back of my head because that would be like a weak spot for me and a weak spot for Washington, and they'd see me stretching over my shoulder. So when the ball went up in the air, all I was worried about if I had to play the game through injury, I was going to do that for my team. I came back and faced Oklahoma for my team. Everything I did tonight was for my team.

At the end of the day it's not how many numbers I put up. As long as Kentucky's winning, I'm happy about that, and tonight that just didn't happen for us.

Q. Janee, tell us about your knee and what is the prognosis.

JANEE THOMPSON: My knee's OK. It's a little sore right now. It just bent back kind of funny when she hit me on the screen because I didn't see her. But I had a lot of adrenaline going at the time. I realized that it could be my last game, so I wasn't going to sit out no matter what.

Q. Janee and Makayla, you guys seem to do defensively a nice job on Kelsey Plum. Can you talk about No. 3 (Talia Walton) and No. 0 (Chantel Osahor)? Seemed to have big nights tonight, and maybe where that break down happened defensively?

JANEE THOMPSON: They're two really good players, really skilled, really talented. A lot of the focus initially was on Kelsey, but they really stepped up for their team and made plays every time Washington needed something. It seemed like it was zero or No. 3, and they wanted it. So you've got to give them credit for using the gifts that God gave them.

Q. Coach alluded to how far you've come as a person this year. As you reflect back on it, could you talk about that and the progress that you've made?

MAKAYLA EPPS: Yes, a lot of that credit goes to Coach Mitchell. He came in here over the summer and we worked together as a team, as a duo. He sat me down and we just talked about life and then a bunch of like growing, building activities, stuff that I really just needed to grow and mature, not just as a player, but as a person too.

So a lot of credit for my progress goes to him. Just me buckling down and looking at myself in the mirror and

taking the steps to make the changes necessary for me to become the person I am now.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Mitchell.

Q. Talk about the toughness of those two girls that just left here, Janee and Makayla, how tough they were to step out there and play through the adversity of injury.

COACH MITCHELL: Yeah, they really both have had a fantastic year in so many ways. The first place where they showed toughness was having toughness to develop their character and develop as people. It's what's made the year so enjoyable is that they had a high-character group this year that really showed up every day and did their best.

If they didn't, they would take direction and try to do better the next day. So they've both had a great year, and we wouldn't have been playing tonight if it hadn't been for their progress as people and leaders, so proud of both of them.

Q. I think Dayton shot like 60 percent in the second half last year and Washington was right there tonight. How much of that is better in execution? Is that when you decided to change the personality of your program kind of what you'd liked to work for?

COACH MITCHELL: Sure, I'd love to shoot 60 percent a half in every half, that would be great. We'd work toward that. But I think we got in the game tonight where those kids just locked in and made some plays. Then we just kept getting the ball at the rim time after time after time. I don't have a stat sheet here, but I think it was something like 13 more shots. I mean, we got a ton more shots.

We just kept working and battling, and the ball just would not go through the hoop for us so many times. So I thought Walton, that baseline back-down and fall- away jumper, those were tough shots. The ones I was disappointed in were just we were uncharacteristically out of position defensively tonight and they took advantage of it and put their head down and drove the ball. Then Osahor was 4 for 8 from the 3, and that's a great job by her. She just had a monster night too. She was so tough defensively.

But it was an impressive performance by the end. You have to really credit them for shooting the ball well and putting the ball in the basket, and that's what you have to do this time of the year.

Q. I think Washington in a lot of people's eyes kind of walked into this game somewhat of a Cinderella team. They had a big game against Maryland. But after watching them against Maryland and watching them today against you, what do you think this team's capable of?

COACH MITCHELL: They're definitely capable of going to the Final Four if they played the way they did tonight. They were just hitting on all cylinders. We ended up being a team that was defensively we needed to work real hard on one defense, and we couldn't really mix it up a whole lot on them. Our defense just wasn't there tonight, and it's sad for it to end that way.

I wish we'd have played better on defense. Give Washington a lot of credit; we just did not get into position to stop them. They got so many layups tonight where we've just been working and working on our defensive rotations, and they just weren't there tonight. So I think that if they shoot the ball the way they do and they've got three really big-time scorers, at least they did tonight, they can go a long way.

Q. Tonight's game was incredibly physical. Did you foresee that?

COACH MITCHELL: Sure. One thing we knew about Washington was how tough they were. They were really rough against Maryland. You know, it was physical tonight. We got the ball at the rim just countless times, and we needed to turn around there and make a two- or three-footer with somebody standing between us and the basket. But we were able to elevate up and they only blocked four shots. It wasn't like they were blocking shots. They were playing behind us. We were throwing the ball three feet from the basket and we just could not turn around and put the ball in the basket tonight.

So it was -- there were some physical moments in the game that we just could not get the ball in. Then we just did not play good enough defense to stop them. They were really, really tough tonight.

I just want to say we had a great crowd tonight. I really appreciate all the people in Lexington showing up. Washington is a team that certainly deserves people coming out Sunday and watching them play. Whoever wins that one out there now is going to be a great team. It's going to be a great game Sunday, and I would really be appreciative if we could show up as a community and support the game on Sunday and watch a really fine team, whoever advances to the Final Four will be deserving.

Appreciate all the hard work everybody in the community did to come out tonight and support us. We're deeply appreciative for that and hope we have a great day on Sunday.