Friday, January 13, 2017

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


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell 

Opening statement …

“Georgia is a very formidable opponent for us. We’ll have to work hard the next couple of days to see if we can get prepared for a very athletic team, great rebounding team. This time of year, in our conference, rebounding is so important, winning that battle. That’s been an area we’ve been challenged in all year long. I was proud of our team for outrebounding Alabama last night, but we won’t be able to rest one second because Georgia is an outstanding rebounding team, very explosive weapons on offense, long, athletic, really big lineup. A lot of challenges await us on Sunday, but we’ll go to work hard today and see if we can get ready and prepare for a victory.”

On the team’s performance at Alabama on Thursday …
“We need to build on it. I don’t know if we’re ever going to feel like we played as well as we can when we have these low shooting percentage in a quarter. The second quarter, we just couldn’t get any shots to fall. So I think there’s still room for improvement there. I thought it was probably the most tenacity we’ve had on defense in quite some time, and I was really proud of that. After coming out of last Sunday, we knew there were some things we needed to correct, and a lot of that was from the energy and effort standpoint. They really did that Tuesday and Wednesday, and we had a good practice yesterday ahead of the Alabama game. So I think that’s the key for us right now. We have to really be diligent about being focused in practice and executing in practice and whatever we do in practice will show up in games. So that’s what we’ll be trying to do today. 

On Evelyn Akhator’s game on Thursday …
”We did a good job of getting her the ball. We were much more patient, as far as looking for the post. We went deep into the clock a few times, and we kept working to get the ball in there. I think Alabama was trying to make an adjustment during the game to double her, then we would kick out, then they couldn’t get the double when we would come back in because that’s difficult when you’re trying to make an in-game adjustment. Her teammates did a good job of finding her. She played with tremendous poise last night. She read the defense well, made her shots, but most of them were around the basket, so that’s good. She needs to make those. Great night, she was real aggressive on the boards.”

“That all started in practice, too. We really talked to Evelyn and Makayla (Epps) both. They have to be our emotion beacons. We have to look to them for enthusiasm and optimism because the kids are younger and they are looking to those two seniors. I thought both of them did a good job there, too, leading up to the game. So, we’re going to have to see if we can continue to practice well and I think it will show up in the games.”

On the energy and aggressiveness of the team against Alabama…
“It’s going to need to be against Georgia, but it was. I thought that the defensive energy and intensity was well. We were really flying around and helping each other better last night than we had. We got flatfooted last Sunday so many times and let Texas A&M go one on one without anybody helping. We still got beat last night on dribble penetration, and I’m afraid that’s going to happen some. We’re getting better with that, and I think we’ll be better in a month than we are now. Last night, we took charges, plugged some gaps with some help, and that all takes focus and attention to detail and positioning. It takes communication. It’s all things we emphasize in practice that really showed up last night. 

On the confidence of the team...
“We’re always much happier after a victory than a loss. That goes without saying, so I probably shouldn’t have just said that. Confidence is something that I feel is really going to come from practices. I’m trying to tell the team now that we’re going to win these games on Tuesday and Wednesday and Friday and Saturday. That’s when you’re going to win those games, and that’s what I felt like we did really well. We had enthusiasm and some fire and tenacity in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s where this team has to take steps forward. We have to put together two good practices and a good game day practice Sunday to play a good Georgia team. They play really well.” 

On how the team buys into the idea of preparation…
“I think as a teacher, probably in any industry, you’re trying to develop young people and teach them what’s going to help them ultimately be successful. It’s in that day-to-day commitment to your principles and fundamentals. I just think it’s a process. We’ve had a really receptive group. I’ve been frustrated at times with them because of their lack of attention to detail. I just have to get better at teaching them. We’re getting better, there’s no doubt about it. Last night in the second quarter when we were missing shots, I was telling the assistants that our offensive is getting better and our defense is getting better. This team is improving. I think it’s just a daily message to them that I have to show up prepared and I have to pay attention to details and principles and fundamentals. I don’t think it’s anything other than out commitment to daily teaching.”

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