Matthew Mitchell Press Conference

Kentucky Women’s Basketball
Pre-Florida News Conference 
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky.
Jan. 29, 2016


Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement … 

“Well, a big challenge to go on the road in Gainesville and play Florida. They are an excellent basketball team and had a good victory last year. They create a lot of turnovers for people and that has been a real difficulty for us, so we will have to focus in and practice well and see if we can take care of the ball. They play a lot of people and a really up-tempo team. They are a great rebounding team. It will be another great challenge for us and we will go on the road and try to get a victory.” 

On gaining some experience and learning lessons from losses …
“That is the key, we must learn from them. We have a senior and junior in Janee (Thompson) and Makayla (Epps) who just have to really make sure their experience is transferred to the other players and we are just not talking to our younger players enough. It falls on their shoulders and they just have to do it right now because we have to get more out of our freshman class. They were 1-for-14 last night and I think they just need to be tutored through some of these things and then they will get it. They just don’t see what is available out there. Vanderbilt did a great job. I think their idea was to just take away the post player and dare you to try to figure it out. There was one person open the entire night, but we didn’t find them but a couple of times. We just have to do a good job in practice and help them get some reps so they can see what they need to see and help them get better. Experience will benefit us at some point, but until then we have to make plays and really have to be more talkative out there on the court.” 

On the confidence level of the freshmen …
“Yeah, there is no doubt that they are lacking confidence and they are thinking more about the result then they are sticking to their fundamentals and doing it right every time and making it happen that way. They are just struggling defensively, offensively, we are just a little bit paralyzed right now and we have to just show it to them and go out and practice. As a coach, you just have to do everything that you can to construct practice in a way that is going to benefit them. They have to go make something happen with their fundamentals. It doesn’t have to be a super play, just a real simple play done correctly. Maci’s (Morris) footwork is off. Taylor (Murray) is in too big of a rush and Batouly (Camara) is staring at the ball too much on defense and giving up points. It is tough as a freshman sometimes when you get to where you are feeling like you are too far behind the eight ball to think the sky is falling and that they may never come out of this. But they just have to practice and they can and hopefully they will.” 

On if he is surprised by performance of the freshmen …
“Well, I wish we were further along and could do a better job defensively of seeing our player and the ball, I really do. But we are where we are at 4-4. We have a lot of improvement that we can make on defense.” 

On the SEC …
“I know for us, we have always felt like if we could really play harder than our opponent we have a chance in every game. Last night, in the second quarter, Vanderbilt just really played a lot harder than us and that nine point lead that we had built in the first quarter by playing hard and being enthusiastic and making some plays, evaporated because we didn’t play particularly hard (in the second quarter). But Evelyn (Akhator) and Alexis (Jennigs) have to stop getting into foul trouble. Alexis’ first foul was on a breakaway layup and there was eight minutes left in the first quarter and two points is not worth a foul. But she sticks her hand in there and then she losses focus and doesn’t box out properly and she boxes out, but the Vanderbilt player brings her to the floor, but the foul is on Alexis. So some of those calls are going to go against you and you have to do things properly. You can’t box someone out on the perimeter and give them a chance to pull you down and they call the foul on you. We have a certain way that we box out on the perimeter. So we just have to be a lot more focused. We’ve really struggled with that and struggled with that and hopefully that will get better.” 

On what the team’s focus is heading into four of five games on the road …
“That we must not worry about the next five games and just worry about Florida. I told them that if we will stick together here and really work hard that we can get the sun shining back on us in the Sunshine State and there is no better place to do that and that is what we will have to do. We are in the midst of some stormy seas right now with two Thursday losses in between a big Monday night win. We just have to keep plugging.”

On what the team will concentrate on today in practice …
“Well, defensively, I am just going to try to work hard on being more solid on defense and then we didn’t close out on shooters last night and we are right there with them. Those weren’t situations where we weren’t necessarily not matched up, we gave them a couple of really open looks, but the rest of them were just not really close enough to contest the 3 and they made a bunch of them last night. So we will try to fight for defensive improvement. We didn’t turn the ball over a lot in the second half and shot 46% from the field, there are some things that are improving for us, but we lost by two points. We have to just stay with it and we didn’t get beat by 50 last night, we got beat by two. So all the things that we are doing, if we could just really start hustling on defense and be in the right position, I think a lot of things will start looking better for this team.” 

On Florida’s offense …
“They are playing with a great freedom on offense. Where we look like we are just playing in handcuffs, they just really get up and down the floor and really try to create pace and they shoot. I think they shot 28 3s last night. They are not shy and put it up. They fly to the boards and we didn’t go to the boards any last night. Just little things like that, you know. They really, really hustle on offense and fly to the boards and it makes a difference for them.”