Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes

Jan. 13, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement:
“I am extremely proud of our players tonight. This was a very good win. We were down on the mat there, with three losses in a row. The team came back here Tuesday and Wednesday and really practiced hard. They were focused today and came out and earned a very tough victory, even when it looked like it was not going that great for us. I am very, very proud that they just hung in there and kept plugging. This was a really good win for us.”

On shooting well in the first half and down three at halftime, coming out looking for a good start, but it goes the other way…
“We had worked very hard on offense the last several days. I was pleased we were finally moving the ball and the players were moving. I thought we were doing a good job against them defensively until very late in the shot clock, then there would be a breakdown or two and I thought that was the competitiveness we had to find at halftime. I thought we did a good job in the first half making them take some contested outside shots and they were making some of those. I told them that if we could defensively find a way to hang in there and keep guarding but just get tougher against the clock and make them take contested jumpers all night that we could finally get it turned around. At the beginning of the half it was not good, but we got a quick timeout and sort of reset it and then went from there. There were a few bad mental mistakes from players, but we got that corrected and really started guarding there towards the end of the game.”

On if he got his point across about defensive intensity, especially after the loss against Georgia…
“I thought that they bowed up there a little bit in the second half. They didn’t play bad defense in the first half, it just wasn’t tough enough there at the end of the clock. I have so much respect for their guards; South Carolina has some fantastic guards, and if you give them any space or let up at all, they are going to raise up and make some shots. I thought the defensive intensity was better. We finally were able to start communicating, so we put a small lineup out there and could switch some things so that was very effective, but that only happens when players are in tune and are talking, and I thought that was much better the second half.”

On South Carolina having more turnovers than what they average and how the team forced those turnovers…
“I think that it was just a cumulative effect of the pressure finally popping open and getting sort of a flurry of turnovers. I think they turned it over a bunch there in the last ten minutes and I thought that was a product of us hanging in there, staying in our stance and I thought our players on the ball such as Kastine (Evans), Bernisha (Pinkett), and Maegan (Conwright) did a fantastic job making them start the offense nine feet from the basket, so I think that was a product of our pressure.”

On using a different lineup…
“Well it started with a concern at point, and I just felt like mentally Maegan (Conwright), Jenn (O’Neill) and Crystal (Riley), having to split it over three people, just couldn’t function that way. We were not very good at it. If you think back to last season, Crystal Riley was very affective in backing up Amber Smith. Her role was clearly defined and knew what to do to come in and give us some energy. We put Jenn (O’Neill) at the two and Meagan (COnwright) at the four, which took some mental pressure off of them. Then you saw Maegan (Conwright) was able to take the ball at the end of the game and help us out. She is a versatile player, so that worked out. I think two solid days of everybody having their roles clearly defined is on me, I needed to get that done. After I watched video and saw our offense, it needed a lot of work. That couldn’t happen unless people knew exactly what they were going to be doing in the game. It was much better when Bernisha (Pinkett) is not trying to play the two and the three, rather just playing the three and I thought that helped in tonight’s win.”

On Bernisha (Pinkett’s) performance and having a career high in shooting…
“Hopefully it just helped her to be able to understand that she does not have too many things to do; she is going to pick things up on defense and define her role on offense. She played with great energy tonight and just there at the end, I thought she had better energy than they had so she made some terrific plays. Her performance, Victoria’s (Dunlap) performance, A’dia’s (Mathies) performance, they all happened because everybody got involved and brought something tonight, so Bernisha (Pinkett) just happened to show up in the stat sheet, but I thought everybody did a fantastic job.”

On if this game ended in a loss, then he would have lost his players and how important this win was…
“I felt like we could lose the game, but I did not feel like we would lose them. I told the coaches we might lose tonight but I felt like we were going the right direction, and no matter what happened I was not going to go in talking about how we were not prepared and did not give effort. It would have been tough on them if we had lost, but I don’t think we would have lost them. I think what we found in practice was encouraging enough, no matter what the outcome tonight. Thank goodness we did not lose tonight, I am very happy about that.”

Kentucky Players

#1 A'dia Mathies, G

On the team coming together…
“Yeah, I think it was (a team effort). A lot of people play a lot of positions and have a lot of tasks and jobs, and they carry that very well I believe. I think that just everybody stepped up to their potential today. If you work hard, I think (we learned) that’s why the outcome was what it was.”

On how nice it is to get a win…
“It really was since we were coming off three-straight losses and with two of them being conference losses. Coming back, this is a good win to get us in the right direction.”

#10 Bernisha Pinkett, G

On her game tonight…
“I feel like I did a good job. It was all from teamwork and moving the ball and all of us playing hard.”

On her thoughts of stepping up and scoring big off the bench…
“I just took advantage of the opportunities that were given to me. They gave me open gates to drive, open shots, and I just took advantage of everything they gave me.”

#34 Victoria Dunlap, F

On how nice it is to get a win…
“We needed this a lot just for ourselves. Just to know that we can come back from a lot of things that happened. It wasn’t pretty. We still have to get better as a team.”

On practices this week…
“This week we had a different mindset. We had a different mindset with what we needed to do in practice and the things that we needed to focus on. Previously, we weren’t executing on offense and we weren’t all playing together. That’s just from practice.”

On if the offense not running as many set plays led to success…
“Yeah, I think so especially with the type of the team we have. We do have a lot of plays, but he felt he (Coach Mitchell) had plays that were going to be effective. We just watched film on it and executed them and that it helped out a lot.”

On the progression of the other team members…
“I think this was just a good game for everybody to step up and show their potential in the league that we play in. Everybody stepped up and did a great job even with all the people we have out. Once Keyla (Snowden) comes back we will be even better, and I’m pretty excited about it.”

South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley

On what happened after getting up by seven points early in the second half…
“We killed ourselves with unforced turnovers. We weren’t able to set up our defense. I just thought we weren’t able to get into our sets as fluently as we would like.”

On if South Carolina’s turnovers were from Kentucky’s pressure or not…
“It was probably a little bit of both. I thought the entry passes weren’t good. We did have some dribble entries we went to when we felt like we weren’t comfortable making entry passes. Some of it was Kentucky, some of it was just us because some of it is new stuff where we just threw the ball all over the place and we just tried to play a little bit faster than our skill set allowed us to.”

On the play of freshman guard Bernisha Pinkett…
“Yeah, she came off the bench and gave them a real good spark. Watching her on film she looks like that type of player, and we were prepared for her, but sometimes when you’re not scoring a whole lot, they just deflated us on the defensive end. For us, I thought we were well prepared for the game, it was just the game within the game that got the best of us.”