Sunday, February 19, 2017

Video/Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 67 vs Florida 48 Press Conference Interview


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement …

“Well really proud of our team. Great win today. They had a tough week. That was a tough road trip to Arkansas, got back really late Thursday night and had to bounce back and work hard for two days to prepare for a tough Florida team. Florida always plays really hard. It was a difficult first half so I thought we made some good adjustments at halftime, came out and played some good Kentucky basketball. Proud of them. We’re happy we won this one.”

On the difference in the third quarter …
“I thought we finally started taking care of the ball. We turned some of their turnovers into some fast break points, which then got the momentum turned. I just thought we got more active on defense, but I thought we were getting the ball in some good areas in the first half. Just turning it over making some careless plays. We really worked hard not to be frustrated at halftime. Just (told) the team if we can just take care of the ball and keep them off the offensive glass we had some opportunity in this game. They really locked in, focused in, did a good job the second half.”

On the players having miscommunication in the second half offensively …
“Yeah that’s unfortunately something that happens more often than I would like. We’ve got to get that corrected. We came out of a couple of timeouts and we’ve got to stop doing that. Didn’t execute real well. Those are things that I really believe are correctable. I think we’re getting better at that, but when Florida in the first half I thought really worked hard to get us to take shots that weren’t in rhythm. We missed a couple of perimeter shots and then we started to doubt ourselves. I got a little frustrated with that. We’ve got to remain confident. As long as the ball’s going inside and then coming back out the 3s are good. If we’re just east and west going around the perimeter and we’re just settling for a 3 that’s not very good. So it was just little things like that that I think we can sharpen up. Overall it was a good performance by our kids today.”

On Jessica Hardin’s return to game action …
“I was hoping to get her in a little bit earlier. It was, you know, the second quarter – we didn’t handle that great. It was very close. I didn’t want to get her into a position where the first time back in after a 12-game absence where you’re just in an absolute pressure cooker. So it worked out really well today, and she’s been doing that in practice. She’s really been shooting the ball well. You know she took so much time off with the concussion, but man it didn’t affect her shooting at all. She’s been shooting the ball well in practice. And she’s been building. She’s been getting better. I hope that gives her a little shot in the arm, and gives her some confidence. Got out there a little bit today and so we’ll just keep trying to work her back in, but I still believe she can play a very vital role in postseason.”

On if UK changed how it defended UF’s Ronni Williams in the second half …“Well we didn’t change any scheme we just tried to tighten it up a little bit. If you are a half-step off on her, if you’re not really sharp in your communication in the ball screen whether she’s setting it or coming off of it and she can just get a little crease she can really turn the corner there, and make some plays. I thought we did a much better job of trying to level her driving off, and did a little bit better. I just thought we were a little bit sharper. I think our ability to benefit from some turnovers may have been a little deflating to Florida and slowed them down a little bit. So Ronni’s a really good player, and I thought we did a decent job on her this afternoon.”

On Taylor Murray’s steals in the second half contributing …
“She just ignites us. She’s so proud of her leadership, and what she’s trying to do there. What she’s trying to develop into. She’s playing some fantastic team basketball. She doesn’t care what is required of her. She’ll do whatever she’s asked so we can win. She’s just developing into a great leader for us, but she is so quick defensively. Has some quick hands and really can disrupt. And when she gets out with the ball, gets going – it ignites us. She’s playing some good basketball right now. Eleven assists, one turnover that’s incredible.”

On what Makayla Epps means to basketball in Kentucky …
“Well she is an unbelievable figure in the game. She started playing varsity so early. Had some notice really early, and so she’s kind of been dealing with that for so many years in the Commonwealth. To see where she is right now, and the way people connect with her I’ve said this many times: she has an unbelievable heart for people. She just has a great, great connection and a wonderful way with people that people feel connected to her. So I’m really proud of the work she’s done as a person. She’s gone through some difficulties here, and a lot of times kids will turn the other way, or leave, or whatever it may be. She hung in and made some changes that are going to benefit her the rest of her life. That’s what I’ll always be most proud of her being willing to do that work. And she’s meant an unbelievable amount to our program, but particularly this year with all of the upheaval. For her to stay here, stay solid, stay loyal, stay in a constant state of giving back to the program, and always being there for her teammates – I think that’s where you really measure her impact. We’re gonna work our heads off between now and Thursday night getting ready to play our very best. See if we can send her and Evelyn (Akhator) off with a victory.”

On if he remembers the first time he heard about Epps …
“I think when Mickie (DeMoss) was the head coach here she (Epps) came to camp. And I had gone to Morehead. So with her dad playing, and being on the (Kentucky) 1996 championship team I think that’s the first recollection I have is that the Epps kid came to camp, and she’s a good player. Looks like she’s gonna be a really good player. That would have been. It’s a long time ago – 12 years or so. Been aware of her for a really long time. It’s an interesting story. Everything that happened with her. So we’re gonna try to write a good ending to it as far as Kentucky goes.”

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