Kentucky-Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
#12/12 Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt 
Postgame Quotes
Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.
Jan. 28, 2016


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement … 
“I give Vanderbilt credit for playing really tough tonight. It was a tough game and I knew it would be with the short turnaround from Monday. Our defense needs a lot of work and we are trying to find an identity on defense and I think the players are working very hard on that. This was a very difficult match-up for us in a very short period of time. We just have to stay on course, I told the team. They’re very disappointed, but we have to stay the course right now and stay optimistic. We are practicing hard and I think our players did a really great job yesterday trying to prepare. We are just not where we hope we will be defensively. And you know, Vanderbilt was able to find two more points than us today so give them credit. I thought they really played tough down the stretch. I thought (Marqu’es) Webb was tough, I thought (Christa) Reed made a really tough 3 there to go up five with under 0:20 and for our team to be tough enough to get that shot to win the game or tie the game. We can’t hang our head right now we just have to understand that it’s going to take real hard practice and diligence and we have to be a resilient bunch now and we will be. There will be brighter days ahead. Tonight is disappointing, but give Vanderbilt a lot of credit. They really were tough tonight.” 

On Kentucky’s 3-point defense … 
“I think that if you look at that, we have had some really difficult match-ups where teams have played four guards and we have tried to match that with two posts. We don’t really have the depth we’ve had in the past to go four guards and we basically only have four guards right now and five posts. That really makes the match-ups difficult and you’ve had two teams two Thursday nights in a row that have made more 3s than they have made all year. You just have to keep working and give Vanderbilt credit for shooting the 3s. The most they made this year was seven and they made 10 tonight. They are well coached and we just can’t see what we need to see right now. We practiced hard yesterday and we were better at the end of practice than at the beginning. We still aren’t where we need to be to win this game but it is not an effort issue, it’s an experience issue, and the only way to get experience is more practice and more games. I believe in this team and believe in the young women in that locker room. I think they’re trying hard and there’s all sorts of things.  In the second quarter we let our offensive struggles affect our defense and didn’t hustle hard enough in the second quarter. The second quarter decided the game.” 

Kentucky Student-Athletes 


#25, Makayla Epps, G


On what happened in the game…
“That’s a good question. I’m going to have to go back and watch the game. Just down the stretch we let (Christa) Reed have some really open looks. Some of them dropped some of them did not, we gave up some really open looks. We missed a couple free throws and layups at the end offensively that we really could’ve controlled that we didn’t and that’s what got us.” 

On if she considered attempting a 3-pointer instead of passing on the last play…
“The play was designed for me to come off two screens and get to the basket but I think Vandy was double-teaming me. I looked up at the clock and I really didn’t look for a shot and I’m kicking myself in the butt for it now. I saw Janee (Thompson) open in the corner and I trust her. I told her before the game was over. She said, ‘You are going to get the shot.’ I said, ‘No, you are going to get the shot.’ So it’s just something like that. I wish I could get that play back and we could redo that one but we can’t.” 

On what to think about over the next four games with the SEC results being complicated…
“It’s very complicated to say the least. It’s just the little things that have gotten us four times now. The same thing with Ole Miss, they hit 10 3s. We didn’t expect them to hit 10 3s. We knew Vandy was a 3-point shooting team with (Rachel) Bell, Reed, (Rebekah) Dahlman and everyone else. We knew they could shoot the ball very well. It’s hard to beat a team when they are hitting 10 3s and one player hits five by herself. Clutch rebounds at the end, we let (Marqu’es) Webb get some big boards. Our poise on offense in the first half wasn’t the best and the second quarter really hurt us. That’s happened before. We have let teams get us one good time in a certain quarter and it’s just hard to rally back from that. Vanderbilt scored 23 in the second quarter and scored under 20 in all the other quarters. The second quarter really hurt us.” 

Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb


On her thoughts on Christa Reed’s 3-pointers…
“That’s where we want her shooting the ball. She’s really good at shooting 3s. She got popped in the lip and moved her tooth around or something. She was wearing a mouth guard and we didn’t even know if we would be able to play her again. So I thought her toughness to go back in there and shoot and be unfazed, she had six rebounds to go with her 3-point shooting, I just think she’s really advanced her game. She took it to the rack and got in the battle. If she starts doing that consistently that will make a big difference because she’s filled a role as our stretch four that we’ve needed for years now, that a lot of people haven’t been willing to do and aren’t here anymore.”

On what adjustment she made to go down to the post…
“I think we’ve always been trying to get the ball into Marqu’es (Webb) and we needed to get her the ball more as you can see. We didn’t get it into her enough. We wanted to at least get her touches and get the ball inside even if we needed to go inside out because as you guys can see she’s very good. She has the best field goal percentage on the team and we wanted to take really good shots. We knew every possession was going to matter down the stretch.”

On her team being significantly better than last year with no freshman players…
“There’s been a huge improvement in our season and program because we worked really hard in the offseason. I think a lot of players bought into a growth mindset and have really worked hard and grown. They’ve grown in their games and grown as people. They’ve matured, especially Rachel (Bell) and Christa. That maturity from freshman to sophomore is fun to watch and it has been fun to watch. It’s good to see. But as well, we picked up Minta Spears and you saw that she’s a really tough performer and a leader and has a really calm presence with the ball in her hand. That really helps. I always say, ‘in the Super Bowl, who do you have?’ and I say this all year. It comes out to the two best quarterbacks. They have the ball in their hands 90% of the game. So now we have a quarterback as well as Morgan Batey as the glue. She’s playing point to post. She’s playing five positions wherever we need her. You have to have that glue kid. So it’s really everyone needing to accept roles and do their best at those roles. Christa being willing to play that stretch four is huge. She said, ‘coach, wherever you need me.’”

On Morgan Batey being compared to Magic Johnson as she’s playing all five positions…
“Yup, with bigger guards it has really helped us when it comes to this league. This league has become a very defensive league: pressing, trapping, full court. Whether it is Tennessee, Mississippi State, Kentucky and all the teams that are doing well, with smaller guards we were struggling. I just kind of inverted and put the bigger kids out there on the perimeter. We have a small post so we kind of look all the same size. But I also think that Kendall Shaw is growing a lot and she does really well when it’s a good matchup for her and they have size like they do tonight, and at South Carolina. I think you’re going to see Kendall get some more significant minutes as well.”

On Reed’s busted lip…
“The good ones always get their lips busted. I’m really happy, not that she got hurt, but that she’s in the battle and battling for rebounds. I think that’s really important when you’re on a team our size. We’re not real big and our guards have to rebound. That’s a huge adjustment. It was tough for Rachel Bell and Christa Reed getting in the fight and the battle. Now Rebekah (Dahlman) is fighting and has so much grit so I like a team with a lot of guards that can spread the floor. That helps Marqu’es have more space to do work, play inside-out. We’re able to do that if our guards rebound. If they don’t rebound you’re not able to do that. You have to go and bunch the floor a little more and then that’s going to affect what Marqu’es can do.”

On physical play down the stretch...
I didn't really have to say a lot. I think we have leaders now, especially with Minta Spears, Morgan Batey, Marqu'es (Webb), everybody is really stepping up and leading each other and it's taking a lot of pressure off of me. I'm still sweating and I'm tired, but I was exhausted by this time last year after games like this. They're owning it, they're carrying the load and communicating and making adjustments themselves. It's really refreshing because I can make better decisions subbing and big picture things because they've taken on a lot that they hadn't taken on last year.

On this year's SEC play...
This is my 14th year. I'm still very young and have a lot of energy. This is crazy, and I don't think you guys have long enough to hear my theory on the new rules and this stuff. Offense is what used to separate people, and you're seeing all of these close games and games are in the 40s and 50s and that's because of the physicality that's allowed and it's turned into an ugly game with not a lot of made shots and we want to be different than that. I think freedom of movement without the ball is still a big problem so we can score more points and have players that do. So hopefully we're going to get better at offense and look prettier and all of those things but right now, we've become a defensive team and everybody in this league seems to be a defensive team. It's so competitive top to bottom. It used to be Tennessee and everybody else at times, then LSU and everybody else at times. I've been here for that. Now, it's South Carolina and everybody else. I thought we had a great shot at them the first time we played, so I don't think there's as big of a gap as people think, you just better be ready every night.

Vanderbilt Student-Athletes 


#33, Christa Reed, G


On if she hesitated on her last 3-point shot…
“Well I think the shot clock was going down so I just knew that I had to get a shot up. She backed up and gave me space so I shot it.”

On her growth from last year to this year…
“Last year I wasn’t playing at this point because I was injured. Sitting out gave me the opportunity to watch and see things that I could learn from while I wasn’t playing as a freshman. So whenever I came back and we had coach putting us through learning the details and going over the details before we get to the big things, all of that came together with helping me grow as a player so I could help everyone else on the team.”

On her busted lip…
“It was a deflection. We were just going for the ball and she got me in my mouth. Pushed my tooth back a little bit.”