Kentucky-Eastern Michigan Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
#12/11 Kentucky vs. Eastern Michigan 
Postgame Quotes
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 25, 2015


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement … 
“Well that was a hard game for us today and I knew it would be. I expected it to be a good game. Eastern Michigan is a good team, veteran team, talented team and what they do is difficult for our team to defend right now, we’re just not well equipped to handle that right now. It was a difficult game, I’m really happy we won because it could have gone the other way. But our team has to keep working, has to progress. It was the first time I was upset with them for a while, there was some immaturity that showed today. I didn’t think we prepared mentally for the game. Practices were alright. But the pre-game we just didn’t really seem passionate about playing and I think it showed right at the beginning of the game. I think you could see that clearly our energy wasn’t good. I’m grateful for a huge third quarter. It was a big third quarter that helped us get enough cushion to win. But, Eastern Michigan was tough on us today and we will have to get better.”

On the team’s best shooting performance since 2007…
“They will have to shoot really well if we play defense the way we did today. Over the years, the statistics don’t interest me nearly as much as what I see out there from their effort and energy. They are shooting the ball well. I though Maci (Morris) was fantastic today. She was a real zone buster today and we need some of that right now. You have to give credit to Eastern Michigan because it was another look that we have not seen. It was an extended two-three, they trapped at times they gave you different looks and they really gave a different pattern every time so we had to do some work for some shots. Janee’s back-to-back 3s were the breaking point of the game and answered a run by Eastern Michigan.”

On if the team focused on offense this week…
“Leading up to Colorado we had been doing more offense and then we tried to kind of go 50/50 (offense-defense in practice). Give them credit for the way they play, that was just really hard on our four player who was guarding the fourth guard. We just couldn’t get it going so we went four guards and that kind of popped the game open because of our four guards out there. But then we don’t have depth at guard so it is hard to play a four-guard lineup, so our post has to get better in non-traditional types of things. And, I think we can. We are really athletic at the post and they can move and they can guard guards but today was a positioning issue.”

On looking for more effort and energy out of Makayla Epps … 
“She has to understand that what I’m trying to get from her is supreme effort every day. Now, that is very difficult to do. But, that’s why there are very few great players. Because great players have elite level talent that The Good Lord gave them and then they have incredible work ethic, and that makes a great player. There are a few good players that either they have so much talent and they work pretty hard, or they work so hard that they make themselves into a good player. But, I want her to be a great player and she has made tremendous strides in that area.”

On the things UK did well today, in comparison to effort with Colorado game…
“You needed to be sharp and in the right position to get their offense going east to west, they are a north south attack team, and we finally got them going east west some. Ivana (Jakubcova) continues to just struggle getting some lose basketballs but she did better today and better on the boards and we finally got in transition, they just had a hard time guarding us in transitions. But, then fourth quarter we just went back into a relaxed state and they got every shot they wanted. It goes back to attitude, effort and energy. We were on top of it in third period.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes


#25 Makayla Epps, G


On the team’s energy and how it had to change after the first period…
“I feel like everybody as a whole, I’m a bit more hard on myself. I feel like I lacked a lot of energy, effort and hustle in the first quarter, extremely. He (Coach Mitchell) did pull me over to the side and he said, ‘whatever it is, just change it. Play hard for your teammates.’ And that’s what I tried to do when I came back out. I think as a group, collectively, we did lack a lot of energy and effort today starting from warm ups. But in the end, I thought we played a way better second half than we did the first half. It picked up tremendously in the second half.  Way better in the second half than it was the first half.” 
 
On Maci Morris’ transition from high school to college…
“She does it for the mountains. I’m telling you right now. She put on a shooting clinic when the mountains were in the stands today (referring to her high school teammates in attendance at the game). I tell Maci every time, ‘shoot it.’ Last week at Colorado, they were standing off of her. ‘Make her pay, shoot it.  If they’re not gonna guard you, they must not know.  They must not know, and that’s what you did. You were a complete player in high school and now you’re being a complete player here today.’ And then today she was just hot.  Coach (Mitchell) said, ‘as hot as a firecracker.’ Exact quote.  It was in the locker room.”

#3 Janee Thompson, G


On the 24-4 run to end the third period and what changed the game…
“I think probably our defense. I think the key to us, in general as a team, is having good energy on the defensive end. And I think that Coach (Mitchell) got after us a little bit. And I think we locked in at that point. And once we got some stops, we were able to get in transition and convert some of that into points.”
 
On winning the game with poor performances in offensive rebounds and turnovers than the previous games this season…
“I think it’s a testament to what Makayla Epps was just talking about.  I think our energy was not great throughout the entire game, and our focus was not great throughout the entire game.  And that led to some of those turnovers. I think that we’re just a good team and we were able to make some shots. And there were little spurts where we had good energy and focus, and that was why we were able to take the lead. But we’ve gotta be able to do that throughout the entire game.”
 
On the team being dangerous even when not doing well in other categories, referring to the best shooting efficiency since 2007 (59.6%)…
“As far as shooting goes, I’ve got to give credit to the way that my teammates have worked outside of practice in individual workouts and just shooting on their own.  I think that we’ve been able to work hard and prepare before we ever even get in the game.  And we’ve been executing offensively much better. So we get good shots and then we’re able to knock them down when we get them.”

#4 Maci Morris, G


On finding a rhythm in transitioning from high school to college…
“Yeah, the transition’s getting easier, as far as practice and games go, just being able to fit in.  But I give credit to my teammates to be able to drive and just kick out to me. It makes it a lot easier on me. I want to get them the assist. So if they get me open, I’m like, ‘I got make this.’

Eastern Michigan Head Coach Tory Verdi


Opening Statement … 
“Real proud of our team here today. They competed for three periods with the 11th or 12th ranked team in the country. That’s a very good basketball team. I’m proud with what we did. We kind of let it get away from us. We missed several assignments defensively. Obviously (we) let a couple shooters go base line. (We) didn’t do a great job of communicating and gave a couple of 3 balls. I thought we competed. We did attack them at times. I thought we could have done a better job in the second half getting to the rim instead of settling for jumpers. I’m happy with where we are. We have to go back and look at the mistakes we did make. One of our biggest keys to this game was defensively getting back in transition. Obviously (we gave up) 30 points there (and we) can’t do that. If you want to beat a really good team you have to play almost perfect. Our players obviously didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. The fact that Cha Sweeney and Janay Morton carried the load for us, they didn’t have good shooting nights.”

On what went wrong in the third quarter when Kentucky went on a 24-4 run …
“We gave them one-legged lay-ups. I think we kind of got gassed a little bit. We took quick shots. Our goal was to come down the floor, execute, get them in rotation, drive and kick. We weren’t patient offensively. We were one drive, one kick with shots and long rebounds. They gobbled up every single rebound and then took off and went running. We didn’t do a good job getting back and containing the dribble penetration. They got one-legged lay-ups. That was one of the biggest keys to this game. The second one was boxing out and rebounding. I thought we did a really good job there on the boards coming into this game.”

On what keyed how well they responded to UK’s first run in the first half …
“We have some returners. We’ve played some tough teams; we’ve played Michigan State and Michigan so we’re used to playing with the BCS level teams. We’ve played on the big stage at the MAC Tournament in Cleveland. We knew this was going to be a game of runs and we continued to tell our players, ‘when you face adversity, you have to come together’. I thought we did a really good job of fighting right back. But then again, we made shots. And when we were making shots we were all of a sudden digging a little bit harder defensively. We got our composure back.”