Kentucky-Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes

Jan. 10, 2010

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement ...

"I think that it is particularly important for me today to put the credit exactly where it should go and that is to the players. We did not call a lot of different plays and didn't make any adjustments. The players just kept battling. They changed their attitudes and just are a very determined group of basketball players. They deserve this win and it is a great win for us. They played so hard and I just could not be more impressed with our team today. They really, really battled. I want everybody to know that is how it got done today.

"Just something a little bit different than I usually do, but we broke a long streak today. I don't want the focus off of our players, because that is where the credit lies but we want to honor Coach Rich Brooks with this win. Our retired football coach is a man that has always supported our women's basketball team and they enthusiastically agree that we should give this win to Coach Brooks as a parting gift, if you will. He is a man that means a lot to our team and means a lot to me personally. He has been a great example for me and has always exhibited what we are all about: honesty, hard work and discipline. We just want to honor Coach Brooks with that."

On the back-and-forth game ...

"The first part of the game was very frustrating for me as a coach, and I really had to try to work through that. We were playing outstanding defense and it looked, as you watched the game, like Kentucky was going to win this game. Then we just rushed so many layups and that started to snowball on us and we gave Vanderbilt (a chance to get back in the game.) When you have a good team like that and you are really doing the job defensively, you don't need to give them some hope that they can get back in the game. I was a bit frustrated there and then it just snowballed. For a short period, right when we came out at halftime, we let our offensive woes affect us on the defensive end and that is not something that we generally do. That is not something we can ever do, ever. To the players' credit, I told them if we could just get one bucket, just get one to get us feeling good (we would be fine.) Then Lydia (Watkins) made one and Keyla (Snowden) made a big three and then Amber (Smith) made a big one. Then the crowd got in it, and they were great. It was an interesting game today but I was so proud of our defensive effort. That is a great offensive team that we just held to 53 points."

On Amber Smith's play and her taking the team on her shoulders to victory ...

"It was an amazing performance by her and she kept her cool in a very difficult game. Virtually nothing was going right there for about a 10- or 13-minute period. But she stayed really steady and calm. We are not going to give that bank three back because we missed so many easy ones, we are going to take that tough one that we had. The one in the corner she also made. She was just fantastic. Let me tell you something though, it was not just one player today because defensively they are very good at running their (offensive) sets and our players were tremendously determined and disciplined today. It was a team effort defensively. I am very happy about it."

On Amber's energy being contagious ...

"It all starts with her. She is our energy player and I told her, `You cannot get down.' Even when we had some things go against us and I was trying to tell her, `Listen, no, no, no, you cannot get down. You have to stay up and keep them going.' She does mean a lot to our team from that standpoint."

Kentucky Players

G, Jr., #24, Amber Smith

On the bank 3-point shot she hit while the shot clock was almost at zero ...

"I shot some bank 3-point shots yesterday with one of the managers to see who could make five shots. It so happened that I had an opportunity to shoot one today. I mean, I got the ball with two seconds to go on the shot clock. I just tried to focus and make it. I didn't just throw it up there. I was just happy that I made it. The work on it paid off."

On the team being deflated offensively in the second half and if she felt obligated to change it ...

"Yeah, I felt like I was trying to get my teammates involved and we were struggling to score. I just try to take charge and get some open lanes. I just wanted to attack and be aggressive like coach says and try to score."

On how they turned their offensive game around ...

"Defense. When we turned on our defense we started to get turnovers and converted them into points. We just went back to our bread and butter which is defense. We turned it up on that end of the floor with a lot of intensity. Once we got that going shots started to fall and we went from there."

On how hard it was to keep playing defense when at times in the first half it wasn't converting offensively ...

"Defense has got us this far, it had us 12-2 and now it got us 13-2. It got us this far, so why go away from it? We knew that we could get some turnovers and we got 26 turnovers against a team that averages 16. That says a lot about our defense and we just have to stick with it."

F, Sr., #25, Amani Franklin

On her performance today and the team's rally to get back in it and win ...

"Amber had a great game and she played well at Georgia, too. That is what we need from her. Coach told us in the second half that all we needed was one big basket and I think that Lydia (Watkins) started it off with that and-one play. We just continued from there. Amber is always trying to energize the team. She is just a great player."

On how frustrating it was to start the second half they way they did offensively ...

"We didn't think that we were helpless, but we were kind of down. We cannot let that be a problem for us and after Lydia got that and-one play we really came back in the game."

On the bank 3-point shot that Amber Smith hit ...

"That was great. It was amazing. I was hyped off of that. It was great."

F, Jr., #34, Victoria Dunlap

On Coach Mitchell's enthusiasm during the game ...

"I heard him on the bench. He was clapping really loud and telling us to keep going hard. It was really great to hear that from him."

On how frustrating it was to have to sit on the bench most of the first half in foul trouble ...

"It was frustrating just because I couldn't be out there with my teammates and help them. The coaches told me to stay positive and to keep talking to them (the players on the floor) from the bench. They wanted me to make sure that they (the players on the floor) could hear my voice and that I was there to support them."

Vanderbilt Coach Melanie Balcomb

On if they went into half time feeling good about their play...

"Yes, we did. Absolutely, we had 16 turnovers at half and with 16 turnovers to have a lead is not usually where you are at that point. I thought once we got used to their defense we would be able to handle it better and we did for a while and built a lead. Then they made a run and picked it up again and picked up their intensity and we weren't able to pick it up again."

On Amber Smith's banked-in three-pointer ...

"It was a loose ball hustle play and then in the second half when they made the run, they made all the hustle plays. They out worked us, out hustled us, and got to all the loose balls. We just have to get tougher and be more aggressive. I had three freshmen on the floor a great deal and right now it's welcome to the Southeastern Conference. I still think they're in a shock in the locker room that we have played two games and this is the level of physical play and they're going to have to wake up."

On if she is surprised Kentucky is this good after being picked 11 th in the SEC preseason ...

"No, not at all. I think they have a lot more talent than they did last year and I think Matthew is doing a great job with them defensively. They have more offensive weapons. I have no idea why they were picked 11th and I wouldn't have picked them 11th."

Vanderbilt Players

#22 Jence Rhoads, G

On being up 10 points in the second and feeling good about their play...

"Definitely, when you get up on a team you feel like you have to hold it. We were feeling good then all of a sudden they went on a run and we weren't able to stop it."

On what specifically Kentucky did to go on a run...

"They got a couple hustle plays, loose balls and rebounds that we should have gotten and they were able to capitalize on that. Then they took the lead."