Matthew Mitchell Press Conference
Kentucky Women’s Basketball
Matthew Mitchell Pre-Miami (Fla.) Quotes
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 10, 2016
Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening Statement …
“Well, signing day went well yesterday, we signed five players and we are really appreciative to those five. We feel like they really fill our needs for this year. We signed five really high-character young women that fit what we do here at Kentucky. So really, really excited about them. I am thankful for all the hard work that our staff put in. It was a very positive day for us yesterday. We are excited about the future with our signees and know they will make a great contribution for our team next year.
“Tomorrow is our first game of the year and it is a really, really tough opener. Miami has a veteran team, a NCAA Tournament team, Katie Meier is a great coach. I really respect how they play. They will pose a lot of challenges for us. They are extremely aggressive on the defensive end and bring a lot of pressure. They press and can do that in multiple ways. It will be a great challenge for our team tomorrow. They are very explosive offensively, very, very good guards and very athletic. So a tough opener. The toughest opener we have had in a while. And, it will be interesting to see where we are. We will really need to hustle tomorrow and really play hard. We are not a finished product by any means, but you know, in these kind of games, sort of like the Arizona State game last year was the second game of the year and a really tough, hard game. I think in these early season matchups you have to shoot the ball well and get some good breaks and play really hard and try to outwork your opponent. That is what we will try to focus on this afternoon, is trying to get our team to go out and play their guts out and just give great, great effort. When we do that, we will have a chance to be successful. But we are still some ways away from where we will be and we are a work in progress, but excited about what we can become.”
On the team’s defensive identity and how Miami (Fla.) will test that …
“They will test us tremendously. We are not a finished product defensively, that has been a journey we have been on to see what this particular team can do. We are trying to blend not only what the starters can be successful with but what the bench can be successful with so we can be a cohesive team for 40 minutes. So we are trying to get there and we will get there, but they will test us in every way. They have great presence in the paint and have guards that can break you down and get to the rim. They have midrange jump shooters and can make 3s. So it will be a tremendous test for us tomorrow. I think what our theme has to be is we just really have to hustle on defense and play hard and bounce back from mistakes. We will make a ton of mistakes I am sure. It is just where we are right now. But we do have the capability to hustle and we are making some good plays on defense. What I always would hope for is we would be really solid and wouldn’t make a lot of mistakes, but we are a work in progress on the defensive end right now and we just have to keep going at it every single day. Individuals on the team, continue to make small incremental improvements and you just have to be patient with that right now. But great attitudes and great efforts, they come out and get after it every day. I do feel like we have some explosiveness and ability to score some points right now, so that is a good thing. These are so hard to figure out what is going to happen tomorrow night. There are so many different outcomes. You just have to go out and play it and see where you are.”
On how Maci Morris has developed in the offseason…
“We have great support here for our students for every phase of their lives, from academics to nutrition to strength, agility, quickness and our training staff. They have a lot of support. So, when you get a player like Maci who just plugs herself in and totally commits to the program, takes advantage of every opportunity she has, you see some things happen. She is a tireless worker. She just works so hard. John Spurlock, who handles our strength and conditioning and does a great job, says she goes at it. She attacks it with everything she has, and that’s the way she practices. That’s the way she runs if we’re doing conditioning. Whatever it is, she just pours herself into it and really, really works hard. So, that’s just what’s happened since she’s got on campus. It’s been over a year now since she’s been on campus. You just seer her, she’s really made a big jump. When we generally see it really take shape is after their sophomore year, so I’m excited to see how much she can develop this year. It’s all in her attitude and her work ethic. She just doesn’t back down from work. She just works. You can do a lot of things if you’ll do that.”
On Maci developing her defensive skills…
“Early last season, she was able to have some success defensively because we were able to hide her a little bit with scouting reports, like, ‘Just don’t let this kid go right.’ And she can do that. But as the season progressed, and you’re playing different teams and you’re playing great athletes in the conference, it’s just such an athletic league. She had to make some improvements there. But now, when she’s locked in a focused she can guard anybody. She’ll figure it out. And what helps Maci is her length. She can recover on some plays if she makes a mistake. So, I think she’s an intelligent player and as we worked our way through last season, I think we could see where she needed to improve and what she needed to do better. Again it goes back to this: it’s very, very hard to coach desire. Coaches can motivate, but if a player doesn’t have desire, all the motivation is going to be very temporary. With Maci, she just has strong desire. So, you just tell her what you need her to do, show her what she needs to do and how to do it, that’s going to be a successful player because of that.”