Kentucky-Louisville Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
#8/8 Kentucky vs. Louisville 
Postgame Quotes
Rupp Arena – Lexington, Ky.
Dec. 10, 2015


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement … 
“For us to be able to come in and be able to earn a victory was really big for us. We tried very hard since we left Northern Kentucky last Wednesday to see if we could better defensively and I didn’t know how much progress we’d made. I really thought that our players were not perfect tonight, but they battled and they played really hard on defense. We kept our poise for the most part on offense and we were able to shoot the ball well. We turned it over too much, but we’ll just keep working on that and see if we can get better. I’m always happy to get a victory and always happy to get a victory in this series. We’re excited tonight.”
 
On Makayla Epps’ clutch play in the third quarter …
“We were able to get a timeout and we were able to talk a little about, or remind them, that Louisville was not going to stop. They were not going to give up and they were going to make a run. The run came and cut it to 10. So we were able to get over on our side and try to get them settled down, but then we got Epps. We were trying to run a play for Epps and that’s always good when you can give her the ball and she can go execute an and-one play. Then she came back down for another tough play. That was very steadying for us because the momentum was clearly in Louisville’s favor at that point and time. That was a huge moment in the game. It kind of steadied us and we were able to go on from there. Makayla did a good job. We need to continue to try to get better as a team.”
 
On Makayla Epps’ ability to defend UofL’s best scorer …
“That’s the exciting thing for our team, is that we do have an upside that we have not reached. We can continue to get better. We’ve come a long way in the last eight days on defense and we need to continue to do that. There were some times there where I thought she (Epps) let the rivalry and the magnitude of the game kind of get outside of herself. It was nothing that showed she had taken steps back. She’s still progressing. Big time moments, big time plays in this game. She can still get better by just improving her leadership. I’m so proud of her. We had a very poor practice Tuesday and it was really the second unit that was struggling. We’re trying to bring those kids along and she was very quiet on the side. She had done okay, but she and I sat down and I told her that she really has to exert herself as a leader on this team. Yesterday, she listened and came back. She showed great leadership and I thought she had some great moments tonight. She just can continue to get better with all the intangibles. Just continue to hustle more, continue to play better defense and continue to improve her leadership. She’s doing all these things. If she’ll keep working, she can get better. She’s come a long way, but we’re not going to stop now.”
 
On this team’s athleticism …
“We’ve had some really athletic teams, so I don’t know if this is the most athletic. I think that this team has the potential to clearly be the most efficient offensive team we’ve had. I will tell you this, they have a chance to be the most ‘together’ team that we’ve ever had. They are working together and they are fighting for each other. When they fight with each other, they work it out and make up. It’s just a really healthy atmosphere around the team right now We’re not perfect. We all have flaws. We’re a collection of flawed people trying to become a great team. We’ll just keep plugging and keep working. I’m as excited to see what we can become as I have been in a long time. I’m really excited to see what this team can finish up and do because they have a great heart for working. They will listen to coaching and they will try their hardest to do what we’re asking them to do.” 
 
On improvement defensively since the NKU game …
“What was really good tonight is that we’re so inexperienced. We only had four players on our team who had played in this game before. It’s a big rivalry game and you just don’t know how people are going to react in that atmosphere. We also have a lot of inexperienced players that haven’t really had to prepare at the level that you have to prepare for a game like this. I thought they really prepared well tonight and tried to take away some of Louisville’s tendencies from player personnel. That’s something that I didn’t know if we could handle or not because sometimes you are worried about overloading a young team. They really did a nice job. We took four or five charges. We were able to make Louisville take some tough shots. So, I was pleased with that. We’ll look at the film and see where we can get better. We still have a lot of growth. We let some people get loose and we were fortunate that sometimes Louisville missed wide-open shots. We are not going to get full of ourselves. We are going to stay humble and hungry and just really work at becoming the best team we can be.”
 
On Taylor Murray’s play…
“I thought that she started a little tight. We had a really tough time in the middle of the Northern Kentucky game. I just told her that there’s no scenario for us to be where she can’t be on the floor playing poorly and I told her she needs to figure this thing out. One thing about it if there is someone that needs a talking to she’ll hang her head and pout, look for someone to vent to so that tells you about her. Now in this game I felt like in the first three possessions right out of the gate she wasn’t doing very well but she started battling. She isn’t where she wants to be but she is a battler and that is the kind of people you win and I will have her on my team anytime.” 

UK Player Quotes


#25 Makayla Epps, G


On the team turning to her to be a leader …
“That’s something that I have prepared myself for. Coach Mitchell and I have talked about that. He said that the ball is going to need to be in my hands and I am perfectly fine with that. It’s just the trust he has in me, the trust my teammates have in me, and I trust in my coach and my teammates.”
 
On what it means to have a strong game in Rupp Arena …
“I love playing here for the history. Even if I wasn’t scoring I was out there having the time of my life. My teammates were making big plays. We had a lot of players in double figures. If I had a great night or terrible night, as long as we won and were playing in this building, that’s fine with me.”
 
On getting open early in the game …
“I work every day after practice with Coach (Camryn) Whitaker on form shots, jump shots and 3-pointers and I feel like it’s really paying off for me and I really appreciate her for that.”
 

#4 Maci Morris, G


On how she responded and how she feels about her defense at this game …
“Coach has most definitely been getting on me for my defense. Not only him, but also my teammates have really pushed me to better myself on defense. I know this game is really important to all of us. Yes it is just another game, but being from Kentucky and it being an in-state rivalry, it makes it a big game for me. I knew I needed to focus more and play my butt off and not let my teammates down.”
 
On what this game does for her confidence …
“I think it improved everyone’s confidence. I know Makayla (Epps) has been disappointed in the way she has been playing. She came out here and just played phenomenal. Lex (Alexis Jennings) knocked down shots. We all have been struggling on defense, especially me, so it really helps my confidence on defense knowing that we were able to come back when Louisville went on that run and staying together as a team and not falling apart help our confidence.”
 

#35 Alexis Jennings, F


On what changed for her in the third quarter and her confidence level …
“It was very good. I have been struggling with my confidence as of late but once I got out there and got going my teammates got me the ball and I’m just glad I was able to finish for them.”
 
On the offense …
“It really just started this summer, with my position coach (Adeniyi Amadou). He really just pushed us past our abilities. He just challenges us a lot. I feel like this summer we met those challenges and we have overcome. I think our hard work is just paying off right now.”
 
On what a win like this does for her confidence …
“I feel like it is very positive. We have been struggling through adversity this year, but I feel like we are coming together and we keep coming together. We have improved to 8 – 0 this year. We just need to stay humble and keep moving forward.”
 

Louisville Head Coach Jeff Walz


On his team's defense tonight …
“That was terrible. We allowed 52% again from the field. We’re like 330th now out of 344 teams. You’ve got to take some personal pride in being able to stay in front of someone. We started off the game with what I thought was going to be a pretty good plan. Unfortunately we didn’t execute it the first three possessions of the game, which then led to three jump shots. You allow kids to get confidence in shooting and then it’s a snowball. And that’s exactly what it was.”
 
On Makayla Epps’ effort …
“No she played extremely well. She shot the ball well. She made tough shots. And again we would go on some runs and shoot ourselves in the foot. We’d miss layups. I mean I don’t know what to do to fix that to be honest with you. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it’s free throws and layups. We’ve gotten better at the free throw part and they call them free for a reason. You’re not being guarded. You just have to step up there and make them. Layups, I wish I could give you an answer. I’m talking uncontested layups. Everyone talks about there’s more missed layups in the women games and there are. And there’s going to be because if this was a men’s game about three of the ones we missed are dunks. So you don’t even have to worry about it. No one can even cut in front of you to try and distract you. They (the men) miss layups too. But it’s the same thing. One of our kids cuts in front, you try to get them off balance a little bit, distract them and you’re going to have more of them (missed layups). It’s frustrating. The one’s where it’s you and nobody else; you’ve got to make them. You have to make them. And unfortunately I think we had it down to ten and had a bust out and missed a layup. You just can’t do that.”   
 
On the health of Asia Durr …
“We’ll find out more tomorrow. It’s really going to be based on what she’s able to do tomorrow.  We’ll practice tomorrow and we’ll play on Sunday. That’s going to determine where we are with Asia. She said she felt okay but it definitely did not look like the kid that played at Michigan State. If she’s not able to go with a high level, then we really have to evaluate and talk with the doctors and try to find out what’s in her best interest. Is it to try to figure out a way to grind out if the pain or soreness is too much? It was an ordeal. It’s not just a minor surgery she had. We’ll have to figure out where the rest of the season she is. “
 
On the performance of the team at the beginning of the game …
“It was disgusting. It’s a lack of mental focus. We celebrate making shots. And unfortunately it’s the first team we’ve had here that is more concerned about scoring than guarding someone. That’s what we’ve done. We take pride in guarding people and getting after people defensively. And there just wasn’t much tonight.”
 
On turning the team around …
“We practice tomorrow, we practice on Saturday, we play on Sunday. In football it’s a week to sleep on it. I hate losing any game. It’s been five in a row and this was the first one that we really did not even show up at the beginning to play. So it’s very frustrating. But you’ve got two choices: crawl in a hole and feel sorry for yourself and then get your ass beat on Sunday, or come back and fight. And I’m coming to practice tomorrow fighting. Now I’m not sure if they’re all going to join me or not. But I’ll find out tomorrow at 2 and you’re more than welcome to come. And it’s going to be fun, I guarantee you that. And some might not make it. But we’ve got to get a lot tougher in a hurry. And I’ve been trying to explain that to them and unfortunately now we’re at the end of the rope.”