Kentucky-Duke Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
#8/8 Kentucky vs.  #13/11 Duke
Postgame Quotes
Rupp Arena – Lexington, Ky.
Dec. 20, 2015

 

UK Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

 
Opening Statement….
“It was great performance by our defense. These players had a tough week with finals. There serious students, they want to do well in their classes and they had to spend a lot of time on their academics not only take care of them, but did well and then they had the added class. Really was the way we approached it, this was their last final they needed to take. We really tried to prepare hard for a very good Duke team and you see the result. We were really able to affect them, I think with our defense and it’s a great performance. We still have room to grow. We have to rebound the ball better. We have to make layups better but all of that I think we can get corrected but the hustle was great, the energy was great. Outstanding victory, real proud of our team, I give them an A on their final exam. It was really good.”
 
On the effect of Evelyn on the team…
“We were losing, over the past two years we have lost some really talented post players. It is a big part of what we do offensively and defensively and it was very important. Though it wouldn’t nearly look good if we didn’t have her I can tell you that. It was a priority for us, the entire coaching staff did a good job making sure she was interested in Kentucky and she is just a terrific high quality person. I am real grateful she is at Kentucky but she has done a great job and listen she has a lot of room for improvement and she’ll just continue to get better so we’re real grateful she’s here.”
 
On going to Evelyn down low so much early…
“Last year we quick shot the ball early in the shot clock. I think we were 2-for-24 from 3 and what you must do is establish a paint presence. You have to go right at them. They’re very big and athletic but you can not quick shoot the ball so attack the paint early was on the board. It was something that was emphasized all week. It was a great accomplishment for us to outscore them in the paint. Defensively we were able to get enough stops. Azurá Stevens is a great player and we had a hard time with her but we were able to hold her to two points under her average and that was significant. That was a lot of hard work but we had to go inside early. We practiced and practiced trying to run our offense. Make sure we knew where the openings were and just for a large majority of the night were able to make some really good plays.”
 
On the 10-0 start …
“Happy for our players, really happy for our players because it’s such a quality group of women who want to excel and they want to put in the work to do that and I am blessed to coach them. I’m just telling you this is a really hard working team. This is a real together team and that’s what is gratifying to me. That is what you want as a coach, you want a group that will come together and sacrifice for each other and put all their personal aspirations for the good of the team so I am thrilled to be 10-0. As a coach, I looked at it a few times. I really tried to discipline myself not to play that game. Not to look ahead but you just can’t help it as a coach you look at that non-conference schedule and there were some real challenges and everything started happening. You just have to stick to what you believe in and believe in the kids that wanted to be here and they have come together and had a great start so I tell them this all the time. We have a lot of flaws were are by no means a perfect basketball team but we are working at trying to become our best. I’m really happy to be captain of this ship. It’s a good ship to be a part of. There a good group of kids, they really are.”
 
On getting more comfortable playing in Rupp Arena …
“Well two great crowds in a 10 day span, we have never done that before. You know, 31,000 people give or take a few in two nights if a great, great atmosphere for college basketball and the crowd was loud and into it so it was great. Listen, we are going to work our tails off. It is a long time between now and March but we really understand the opportunity we have to get back here, that would just be awesome if we could play another game in here that would mean we are in the Sweet 16. We have a long way to go, but that is great motivation for us. It was magic tonight and magic 10 days ago, it was awesome. I appreciate people coming out and pausing on a Sunday night and coming out to see us play. Just really grateful to our fans, it was great tonight.”
 
On attacking the zone early …
“Well you need to move the ball and you have to be patient. You have to play really good defense. Duke is really big and they have a lot of length. There are a lot of ways to turn the ball over and make a mistake so we really preached patience, we really preached ball reversal, we really preached getting our eyes up over the rim so you could see the other player. Our timing was important, so I give the credit to our players there was great preparation this week. Because of finals, we didn’t have the preparation I’d of liked coming into this game, and I still think that hurts us rebounding. I think we need a lot of reps boxing out. They were driving under the basket, and that happened too much. We took the lead and we had to think through the game, and that shows preparation. I was really happy – thrilled. We do a lot of five-on-zero stuff (in practice) and really try and emphasize who’s open and I  said if we actually did any of this stuff it could be a good night for us, and we did it. It was a great start – really good start of getting the ball into the paint.”
 
On Kentucky’s defensive effort against Rebecca Greenwell …
“That is two freshman in Maci Morris and Taylor Murray. Nobody else, but all 40 minutes of Taylor Murray and Maci Morris. They are hard workers, they are battlers and they are smart. We had a gameplan to try to make it tough on Becca. She is a very, very, very good player. We probably had some good fortune in there that some of those shots didn’t go in, so it wasn’t all us. But the whole time the game was going on those two freshmen hustled tonight, they did not run into screens and did not die in screens. They would not run and stop in a screen, they just battled and battled and battled and it was a great testament to them and then the rest of the team had to really protect the paint and make sure she didn’t drive. But I am really proud of those freshmen.”
 
On Makayla Epps and if she needed to come out at any point or play all 40 minutes …
“She did not look at any point – I was watching – and I didn’t have any plan to do it. She was handling herself so well, and she’s so important to our team and she never looked like she was gassed and needed to come out. That’s a credit to her. She’s in the best shape of her life – we need her to be – she’s real key to our team as everyone is. That’s what I told her at that Morehead State game – was this is how it’s always been and these are moments of what you need to overcome. That Morehead State game, I was just trying to tell her that she could do this. I didn’t have any plan for her to do that tonight, but the game just presented itself that way that she was effective for all 40 minutes. It’s another estimate to her as a person that’s benefitting her as a person. We say all the time that the better person you are, the better player you will be. They are totally connected, I believe. I’m real proud of her.”
 

UK Student-Athletes


#25 Makayla Epps, G, Jr.


On Evelyn Akhator and what she finds valuable about the game…
“She is highly passionate. She is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen. She works hard daily and she loves working hard for her teammates. She loves laying her body on the line and taking charges for us. She is a very good team player. She loves us and we love her back.”
 
On the importance of defense in the victory…
“Defense was a big key with us tonight. We have prepared a lot with the defensive end. Coach Mitchell had it so planned out and we knew exactly what to do when each player had the ball. I feel like we executed very well.”
 
On if having nine players is an advantage…
“Yeah, because at practice we know what we have to work on and there aren’t a bunch of players rotating in and out. Everybody knows their role on this team and I feel like all nine of us know exactly what their role is, and to be honest I kind of like having a shorter bench. It’s working for us!”
 

#13 Evelyn Akhator, F, Jr.


On her start to the game…
“My teammates really believed in me. In order for me not to let them down I had to do well in the paint.”
 

#3 Janee Thompson, G, Sr.


On how the team’s good start affected the rest of the game….
“A good start has always done well for us in every game. I think Evelyn was key to the way we started. She was almost unstoppable. Every time we gave her the ball she was able to score.”
 
On friendly competition with Makayla Epps…
“It’s not a competition. We just try to do a good job at getting our teammates in the best positions and making the game easier for them. That’s our job as point guards and our teammates do a great job at finishing.”
 
On nine players being an advantage…
“I think we have a solid rotation and I think we kind of have a rhythm with that, especially with the guard spot. We have been doing a good job of going out there and doing exactly what Coach tells us to do. There is no question in anybody’s mind of what it is that they need to be doing when they’re out on the floor.”

Duke Quotes


Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie


Opening Statement …
“There were some great lessons for us. We’ve played a great schedule. Kentucky’s certainly an excellent team. We’ve played some other good ones (teams) too and we’ll learn from this. In regard to Crystal (Primm), I’m very proud of her. She’s the only player on our team who played her role. That’s not a good percentage of our team, but she definitely played her role and gave what she could give to the game. I hope that’s something that Crystal can grow off of. And Azurá (Stevens) fought for us but didn’t do enough, especially rebounding wise. But she’ll continue to fight as well.”
 
On Kentucky’s defense and points off of Duke turnovers…
“That was a very significant impact and probably the difference in the game. They play very physical basketball and they play very hard. We had some really crazy turnovers, but you have to give credit to the defense for causing some of those.”
 
On bench points…
“Well mostly that’s Crystal. But I think it’s excellent to get a lot of confidence in our bench and we want our bench to be productive. So that was a good show by Crystal to be very impressive as she was at the basket. That’s a very good thing.”
 
On Kentucky scoring in the paint…
“We were horrendous defensively inside. There’s nothing else to say about that.  You wouldn’t expect them to be able to capitalize like that. Our players got in foul trouble immediately and that hurt us. That was very disappointing because that’s certainly not where their (Kentucky) strength is.  Kentucky’s guards can really go and they proved that. Number 13 (Akhator) might be the MVP of this team. Without her, I’m not sure what they would do. She is a bruiser. She is willing to battle in there, so she’s an excellent player.”
 

Duke Student-Athletes


#11, Azur’a Stevens, F, So.


On the attitude of the team after getting down in scoring…
“We had a slow start, so we were really just trying to get it back on defense because that’s usually how we get things going offensively. So we were just trying to get stops and really focusing on that and closing out those stops with rebounds.”