Kentucky-Jackson State Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
#11/12 Kentucky vs. Jackson State 
Postgame Quotes
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 29, 2015


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement … 
“I thought our team came out lacking intensity defensively and that’s something we need to fix. We just don’t have a real sharp edge to us when we start the game. We’ll try to improve from that. I thought they did a nice job making some adjustments at half time. We gave them some clear goals that we wanted them to accomplish that had to do with fundamentals. I think when we have superior talent to our opponent our focus is just not where it needs to be. I thought they bounced back and played much better defensively in the second half and gave a better effort. I thought Jackson State worked real hard today and hustled. It was a game where we were blessed with more talent and were able to win. I thought they really hustled and played hard. We have a long way to go defensively and we just really need to get to work at that and stop turning the ball over so much. But we’re happy to get the victory. Looking forward to a chance to get back in the gym tomorrow afternoon and get better.”

On how Evelyn (Akhator) has found her place on the team …
“I think high character crosses all boundaries and supersedes any type of barrier that might be created by someone’s nationality. She is an incredibly high-character person. She’s one of the best human beings we’ve signed here since I’ve been here in nine years. So that starts it all. It’s the kind of person she is. She’s incredibly caring about her teammates. She connects well with people. She has an incredible appreciation for being at Kentucky. She was the first person on Thanksgiving morning that shot me a text and said, ‘I’m thankful to be here.’ That’s the kind of person she is. That helped her integrate into the team very quickly. It’s not hard to like Evelyn Akhator. It’s not hard to get along with her. Then she works so hard and gives great effort. Sometimes kids will get off to a rocky start in academics and they’ll want to drop a class and try it again the next semester. Evelyn is the kind of kid that if it starts off rocky, ‘I’m going to figure this out and I’m going to make the grade’. She just has tremendous character, is tremendously caring for people and a tremendous work ethic. So all of that makes it easy for her to be someone we all want to be around and that we all trust a lot. She’s going to give us all that she has. She makes a ton of mistakes right now from the transition from Junior College to here. It’s a higher level. She has to learn how to play the game at this level. She’s learning and getting better every day. But all that stuff will come because I have people like her succeed. She works real hard. She cares about other people. She cares about the team. She will be a success.” 

On Evelyn’s language barrier …
“Well that’s not just her. There are a lot of people that have not been able to understand me over the years. Coming from Mississippi there’s a language barrier for everyone. She hasn’t had a particularly hard time lately. I think all of them have a hard time understanding me sometimes. I don’t think that’s been a big issue. I do try to stay aware of that and I do probably over communicate with her, just trying to make sure she understands me. But I think she’s good at that.”

On Evelyn’s athleticism …
“As you all can see, her athleticism is sort of next level type stuff. She looks different than everybody else out on the court a lot of times. She’s just tremendously athletic. She’s real aggressive on the boards and real strong. I think she’s in a hurry a lot and unsure a lot. That’s where you see her mishandle a lot of basketballs. So she needs to keep working to get that and I think she will. I think when we’re going to see her really blossom is when she doesn’t have to think. When she gets in a comfort level and figures out what’s going on there. But that is going to happen sooner rather than later. The way she impacts the game on the board is she’s so aggressive and wants to do it. And that’s really, in rebounding, 80-90% of it is wanting to. I can teach them a few techniques about stepping the right way and checking and boxing out. But at the end of the day the people that really want to go get them, the Victoria Dunlaps and the Evelyn Akhators, you’re not teaching them that. They want to go get the ball.”

On turnovers …
“There are two things that are happening on the turnovers. One is we start the game off with seven in the first period and we’re not focused. So Janee Thompson and Makayla Epps, those turnovers I think are not ready to go with an edge and ‘we have a better team.’ ‘The talent is in our favor.’ ‘We’re going to try some things that we shouldn’t try.’ So that’s a mental adjustment that both of those players I think when we watch film that they can correct. It’s funny we had less turnovers against Colorado last Sunday than we did this Sunday. I just think there’s a lack of mental sharpness there in the first period that we have to correct because we will never be the kind of team that can turn it on and off. We have to have it turned on; lights have to be on all the time burning bright. And then the others are Evelyn (Akhator), Batouly (Camara), Ivana (Jakubcova), Maci (Morris) and Taylor (Murray). Those are inexperienced and respect for Evelyn being such a good ball player they are collapsing and saying, ‘Hey, we’re not going to let them shoot it two feet from the basket.’ Ivana turned it over three times at the high post because she lost confidence because she missed one shot and let that bother her. All of those inexperienced turnovers hopefully will stop and then the mental focus needs to increase. So we need to be a 12 turnover a game team. And we’re not close to that right now. We’re 17 a game and that’s five too many. We have to find a way to eliminate those five. And we have to get to a 12 turnover a game team if we want to be great. If we want to be everything we can be we have to get to 12 turnovers a game.” 

Kentucky Student-Athletes


#3 Janee Thompson, G


On turnovers early in the game …
“I can’t really put my finger on it. That’s something that we talked about at halftime as a team. Before Coach Mitchell came in we were talking as a team trying to figure out what it is, why we tend to start games a little slow. But that is just something that we’ve got to try to correct through learning from film and working through those mistakes in practice.”

On the personality of Evelyn (Akhator) and her transition…
“Evelyn’s a great player and a great person. She’s a lot of fun to be around, and I think that everyone is really and it shows up on the court. I think we trust each other and I definitely have a connection with her on and off the court. It’s just a little understanding that we have, and sometimes I can make certain plays with Evelyn. So, it’s been really good and I’m loving to see how she’s been progressing so far.”

On the progression of Akhator…
“I think she can be an All-American type player. She has that athleticism and skill, and she continues to learn the game and picks her spots. I think sometimes she gets in a hurry and that’s something that we’ve been trying to work on, making sure that we put her in good position. But, like I said, I think the sky’s the limit for Evelyn. She’s so talented. She just has to keep feeling out this level of basketball and she’ll be great.”

#13 Evelyn Akhator, F


On a communication barrier…
“I don’t think there is one. It’s just that at most times I talk too fast and can’t be really understood. “

On being thankful for being at Kentucky…
“I’m really thankful. I really love it here, so I’m really grateful not just to him (Coach Mitchell) but to my teammates. They really love me and I love them too.”

#24 Taylor Murray, G


On playing alongside two point-guards …
“I think it’s gone really well. I love playing with Janee and Makayla. They make me better as a player and I’m sure that I make them better as a player as well.  We work really hard. We just communicate with each other. If I make a mistake then they correct me. We just help each other out on the floor and we’re just getting better as basketball players.”