Kentucky-Miami Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball Postgame Quotes
No. 19 Kentucky vs. No. 14 Miami (Fla.)  
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 11, 2016


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening statement….
“A great victory tonight. Miami is an outstanding team and they’ll have an outstanding season. These early season matchups with really good teams, you never know how they’re going to go.  What I was looking for from our team tonight was for them to hustle and play harder than Miami and that was really my expectation tonight. We are so far from being where we need to be to be a successful team. We have a long way to go but they have shown great character, they’ve really worked hard. I was worried that I didn’t prepare them enough for this particular game, so the credit goes to the players, they really battled tonight and fought hard, showed much resiliency with all of the runs that Miami made at us. I am just very pleased with how they fought hard. Hard fought and well-earned victory over a really good team.”

On Epps getting it going in the 4th quarter….
“I didn’t get on Epps for that tonight, I got on Epps for a couple of other things tonight. She’s a great player, she sensed the moment, it was what we needed. Miami was a really hard team to play against in the first of the year. They just came at us with things that we were not all that prepared for. The volume of time we have to get in with such a young bench, it takes time and we will get better but we are not anywhere close to a finished product. They were doing some things that we were not quite ready to handle and she just made some plays. She put us in a position to win but her team really played great around her, really hustled. The stat sheet may not look huge but just battle and really helped us win so it was a big team victory and Makayla obviously led the way and it is probably how things are going to be early in the season and I think she is good with that.”

On Evelyn being in foul trouble in the 3rd quarter…
“This is my thing and this will be my thing, we have to have extreme patience with our team right now. We are not going to come in and just whack somebody. That is just not going to happen right now because people need time and so as long as we had the lead I thought we were doing great. I was just so proud of the team and I wanted it to be close going into the 4th quarter to give ourselves a chance and it was a pretty amazing feeling over there when you have what was going on out there. Kids were hustling, that 2-3 zone that we were in, we put that in a few days ago. We will get better at that but kids were battling and you had to be ok with it because we needed Evelyn on the floor at the end of the game. As long as we had the lead I could leave her on the bench, I was good with it.”

On running a zone…
“I got more comfortable tonight because we were able to win with it but I found out something. When I always ran it, somebody would make a 3 so we would say ok that zone doesn’t work so you do have to have some patience with it. We gave up 10 3s tonight but I thought Miami was so explosive with number 3 (Thomas) and 23 (Motley), I was just very concerned they were going to go by us all night long. Our help rotation isn’t that great right now. I just didn’t want them making layups all night and we would just try to force them into outside shots. Some of those you have to live with, number 5 (Greene) came off of an on-ball and stopped at about 25 feet and that was better for me than a lay-up. I was proud of the kids, they made enough plays to win, I wouldn’t say it was a great defensive performance by any means, if anyone looks at that film, they’ll think UK is easy to score on but we’ll get better and it’s good for me. You have to learn something new. I have get better as coach, figure out a way that this team can play at their best and I think zone is part of that mix.”

On Jess Hardin hitting the 3 going into half…
“I will have to talk to Jess to figure out how big it was for her but it was huge for our team because we’re going to need Jess Hardin. Jess Hardin is a successful piece of our puzzle and she can play. I tell her this all of the time, Jess has the goods, she can do it, physically she has everything she needs, she’s very fast, quick, you saw her make a toughness play at the rim tonight. That was just grit and toughness and she is one of those people that needs time, but I’m sure that is huge for her. She’s coming from walking on campus playing intramurals to playing in a top-25 game, making an impact, and we wouldn’t have won without Jess Hardin. It was huge for her I’m sure, huge for our team but I have a lot of belief in her and she’s high on my priority list every night and I thank God that she was on campus because she is going to be a good player for us.” 

On point differential from 1st-2nd quarter…
“I thought early in the game we were a little nervous, how is this going to work, we don’t have a deep bench. I just thought everyone was a little jumpy but I started to settle in myself because we were taking good shots, they just weren’t going. It really started occurring with me that we could compete with Miami and we were going to be ok. Once we got those first subs in and they got into the game and everyone settle down. Everyone was thinking we’re going to be alright, we can win this game. The thing I was worried about was do you get the inexperience players in, do they not have success. Is Miami so good that their confidence goes down. That is what Makayla and I talked about before the game that she had to effective with her leadership because we believe in these kids, they can play, and I just thought it was first game nerves, I didn’t think Miami did anything, Miami didn’t score a lot either. Both teams just had the jitters, I think it was the only game a top 25 matchup, it was big game for both teams so I thought it was just settling in and starting to feel more comfortable with the game, it wasn’t any big adjustments that we made. That’s another thing, I just wanted to give credit to the players tonight, they really figured it out. Miami threw some things at us that we weren’t ready for and we’ll get better at defending but they just found a way to get it done. Give credit to them.”

On Taylor Murray deflections...
“We do count the number, I’ll have to get that. It was huge tonight, deflections are a major thing. When you start to play better defensively, deflections can be disruptive and she was fantastic. Our zone made us really disruptive, I think we ended up with 18 turnovers and we were plus 7, that is just great. I think we will get better and better as the season progresses in the zone. With someone like Taylor who is not very tall, it can make her more long and very quick and I thought we played well with the deflections tonight.”

On turning right around and playing Albany tomorrow…
“We won’t be in this position until SEC tournament. Right now it’s a mental thing that you have to clear your mind mentally and know that you can do that. They’ll take care of their bodies tonight, we have the best trainer in the world, Courtney Jones. They’ll ice and rest, then tomorrow we will just stretch and work on free throws, we didn’t shoot free throws well tonight but we won’t have a real hard practice tomorrow. It will be more mental preparation and then we’ll try to turn it loose and see if we can beat a good Albany team. This is a very tough situation to put the team in, but they can do it. This will be a mental test, we’re physically ready but mentally you have to get yourself ready to go and ready to play.” 

UK Student-Athletes


#25 Makayla Epps, G


On free throw shooting…
“I don’t know what happened. It’s so crazy to me, it really blows my mind. I wanted to shoot above 80. I get fouled a lot and I feel like I should be shooting at an elite level. My dad shot 80, so I have to beat him. I put a lot of work in after practice and during practice. Then I shoot them during the game, and they are rimming out, and I am literally up there losing my mind. Like what is going on? You’ve done this a million times. Even today, I was shooting them, hitting like 9 or 10 in a row. The ball just didn’t bounce my way.”

On what they learned in the third quarter when Akhator was not in the game…
“I personally learned that I love this team. I felt like crying in the film room after the game, I don’t know if I was serious or if I was joking. I still feel like crying, I don’t know, I might in a second. It’s just crazy because a lot of people counted us down and a lot of people sleep on us after the turmoil towards the end of last season. We have a lot of hard working kids. Jess Hardin saved me at the end of the half. I could’ve sworn I turned the ball over, then I look up and she makes a 3. I love it. I just ran off of the court smiling. Maci hit a 3, and Makenzie hit a 3 kind of back to back off of my assists. They make plays. These kids get their name and number called off the bench and they just come in and make plays when two of our starters are out for foul trouble. We have people that just come in and do what they have to do for the team in the time being. The two starters can come back in and the ball just keeps rolling, and it’s a really good feeling for me.” 

On the fourth quarter…
“I guess I did just start feeling it in the fourth quarter. It is just crazy how things happen sometimes. My teammates kept feeding me the ball, especially Maci, she pulled me to the side and told me not to worry about the free throws. It was just like when I told her against Union when she had a bad shooting night. She was shooting the heck out of the ball tonight. I said I don’t care if you’re 0-20, you shoot the ball. She said the same thing to me. I just have love for my teammates, and that really kept me upbeat.” 

On playing zone defense …
“We work on zone every day in practice now, and we try to make it more effective. I feel like zone really helped us tonight.”

#13 Evelyn Akhator, F


On double-double in first game of the season…
“Whoever gives me the ball, its one on one. No one caves. I shoot the ball like 30 times, I just have to keep going. Coach Mitchell always says that we have to give our best, so that is what I have to do. Just do it. They give me the ball, and I have to just do it.” 

#4 Maci Morris, G


On Epps’ performance…
“I love it. I love watching her. Epps is a great player and a great leader. I am looking forward to seeing what she does this season.”

Miami (Fla.) Head Coach Katie Meier


Opening Statement … 
“I’m disappointed obviously with the outcome of the end of the game, but other than that it went pretty much as I expected it would. So much respect and admiration and just a really good feeling about Kentucky’s program. Matthew is someone I’ve known for a long time. The staff, I mean they’re just great people. I think the more mentally tough team won without question. They were just more mentally tough, we were trying to exhaust them, get them down on themselves, we were trying to get them on the ropes a little bit and their zone saved their legs a little bit, which was great coaching by him. We didn’t get to the free throw line, we generally make more and our goal is to make more free throws than our opponent’s attempt. Obviously we were way off on that one and I think that was kind of the story of the game. They’re going to hit 3s and we’re going to hit 3s, we weren’t hitting them, we didn’t go away from our game plan, it’s the first game of the year. There’s a lot to learn. I feel like I have a nice term paper to write tonight. It was just an unveiling for both teams and you would’ve thought that we would have an advantage late in the game with the experience that we have returning, but at the end of the game they didn’t just close the door, they slammed the door on us. And if that’s what we take from this game and it doesn’t happen to us ever again then this was a heck of a game for Miami.”

On problems with UK going to a four guard look in the last few minutes of the game…
“No we were four guards ourselves. I’m not making any excuses, but one of our nice post players that does really well against the zone is just coming back from an injury so that’s a lot of the reason why we were not getting as much in the paint as we are used to, but it wasn’t a surprise, it didn’t happen yesterday so we were prepared to be small. They had a little injury and some foul trouble too, so it’s just one of those games. I mean you’re trying to get your system in and you’re trying to look at the other team and who plays this game the first game? We do. And Kentucky does. I told my team that everyone else around the country is playing someone and winning by 50 tonight and we’re a great team and we take a loss on the road. I don’t want to lose, but winning by 50 I wouldn’t have learned what I learned tonight and we wouldn’t know what we have to fix so we’ll do it again. Albany is a great team too and they’re next and we have four straight postseason teams to open up the season because I have a veteran squad and I trust their talent and I know that we are going to be very good by the end of the year.”

On surprised by UK using so much zone…
“No, I kept saying to Coach Jackson ‘They’re going to have to play zone, they’re going to have to play zone.’ And they only thing we saw on them of for this year’s squad was the Union game and you can’t zone that team they shoot. But I was like there’s no way Matthew’s not going to play the zone. He has to and that (Emese) Hof piece missing, that’s a really good zone buster for us, we get way more touches in the paint and she’s got great size and is one of our best passers so if they’d known that too they had to. And they did a nice job, the best thing that zone did, which I was certain this would happen, we were dribbling a little too much through the zone and they did a great job of just being discipline and digging it out. So that was well coached.”

On Epps in the fourth quarter…
“I saw her over there I thought she was cramping up a little bit, we cut it to 3 and I was like look at the poor girl and then she just blistered. She blistered us. She’s tough as nails and that’s not a surprise either. I had some real compliments for her in the handshake line and she was really, really tough. Her strength was a big difference and getting her downhill one on one and some of her and-ones, even in the first half they didn’t go in, but she was generating a lot of fouls on us so she’s a very good player. Very, very good.”

On how they felt after Motley hit multiple 3s …
“I kept saying I don’t recognize you. Not to her personally but just the entire team. We came out a little bit like we were in unfamiliar territory. I think we were just a little bit, not shell shocked by any stretch of the imagination, we are used to playing on the road against ranked teams and great crowds. Just feeling it out and I said, ‘If you guys want a coach that’s just going to sit there and be a survey and be really calm and let you feel out a game you came to wrong place, that is not me. We are feisty, we are scrappy, we are tough and we play with great pace.’ We don’t do stationary shooting, everything is a run and a fill and a pass all of our shooting is with pace and as soon as we got our pace up she got a rhythm.”

Miami (Fla.) Student-Athletes


#23 Adrienne Motley, G


On what changed in the second half that made her shoot better …
“Senor year. You can’t dwell on the first half. You just have to keep going. We wanted this game and our assistant coach pulled the guards to the side and said this is what you guys are in the gym for all week and this is what you guys have been working for and you have to hit big shots and we just kept shooting and that’s what you have to do.”