Kentucky-Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes

Jan. 23, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement…
“Big win for us today. Big win. I’m just really grateful for that effort. The players worked hard to get it, I knew they would have to. Vanderbilt is a very good team and I did not know if we could be sharp enough to beat them today and the players absolutely were and I am just ecstatic.”

On the run at the end of the first half…
“I thought our defense was pretty good so I really tried to stay calm with them because I thought we were getting some shots at the rim that weren’t going in, some good shots. When we went down by 10, I think it was 17 to 7, we just were playing pretty good, not terrible, just not making some shots. I think really what helped us what getting into the press and Maegan Conwright came in and really did a good job and I thought ignited our defense. That gave us a bit of a spark and from there it was pretty tough, whether we were pressing or just in the half court. The first half defense was really good.”

On his team’s play these past few weeks…
“They are playing better and are practicing better. I think Jen O'Neill has a little bit more confidence. She is still making some defensive mistakes every now and then but her intensity is so much better. You can work through and teach the freshmen to bounce back from mistakes if they are hustling so that is what the difference is with Jen (O'Neill). I think that all of them performed well. A lot of times we have three out there and its fun to watch them improve and I am telling you this was a very tough game today.”

On Vanderbilt’s play…
“Very, very tough game today. Vanderbilt, as I was breaking them down on video, they were playing very well and I was extremely concerned about this game and our young kids, just worried if they could bring the same intensity because Vanderbilt brings such a high intensity.”

On his team’s offensive execution…
“I thought we attacked better than we have all year. I thought we were able to make better decisions and I thought that we got the ball to the right places against their defense. They are very, very strong on the strong side they sort of flood the floor with their defensive players and sometimes you’re just not tough enough to get it and reverse it and I thought in the first half we did a great job with that.”

On his team’s ability to outrebound Vanderbilt today…
“Tremendous energy on the offensive boards. They just came out so aggressive, Brittany Henderson, Kastine Evans, that got Victoria (Dunlap) into the act, Bernisha Pinkett was on the boards, they just really attacked the boards. That was one of our big keys today, finding a way to outrebound Vanderbilt and to outrebound them 10 is a good day’s work. I just thought it was great energy from the start. When you see us flying to the boards like that it is a great sign because we haven’t done that consistently all season. I was very happy with that situation.”

Kentucky Players

#34, Victoria Dunlap, F

On the run the team put up at the end of the first half…
“We started from the beginning very strong and stayed together as a team. They never got up on us; we just stayed together as a team. We put a lot of pressure on the ball by pressing and making plays and we just went from there.”

On how it felt to put up a 30-5 run on a team like Vanderbilt…
“It feels good, especially when we know we are capable to do a lot of things, plus the fans were with us and we had a lot of momentum, so it was good.”

On if things are going the right direction now…
“I think they are. I think the practices in the last couple weeks have changed and our intensity has changed which helps our mindset for games. Even if we haven’t done a lot of things perfect, we had a pretty good game but there are still things that we can work on and get better.”

#10, Bernisha Pinkett, G

On how comfortable she was today in attacking the zone…
“I was just trying to punch the gap and see what was open. I was trying to be aggressive and get to the line to help my teammates out as much as possible.”

On her frustration missing a couple of late free throws…
“It was towards the end of the game and we needed those baskets, so I was just trying to focus but I got a little frustrated with myself because we really needed those baskets.”

#32, Kastine Evans, G

On her confidence and progress from week one to now…
“I think the emphasis Coach (Mitchell) makes on being excellent and having excellence just pushes us to be excellent. I think on a daily basis, he talks about being excellent and I think having that mindset every day and being excellent has worked out really nice.”

On how much Victoria (Dunlap) has helped the younger players…
“Vic (Dunlap) is there every practice always trying to get us up, especially days when we have such a big freshman class, sometimes we can bring the momentum down but I think she does a really good job of being vocal and keeping us all together.”

On dishing out offensive rebounds instead of going right back up with the ball…
“I think in previous games Coach (Mitchell) hasn’t really said anything, but today he actually said to be more aggressive and try to go back up, but I think my mindset was to get the ball with a new shot clock and just to start back up again. I think in the future I should be more aggressive, but I think just getting those rebounds and being able to get a new shot clock was really good for us.”

Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb

On if she was happy about the comeback Vanderbilt made in the second half…
“No, I’m not happy with any of it. They made one big run and if that’s enough for us to be in the situation we are – we told them they’re a team of runs, we told them we have to check out, we told them a lot of things and didn’t get a lot of things. Our effort wasn’t good enough. We gave them 24 offensive rebounds, and even if a team’s not shooting well, if they just keep shooting eventually they’re going to loosen up and make shots. So, we didn’t do anything to help ourselves in that game. It’s a given to fight back and that’s what we did in the second half. That should be a given.”

On the technical foul called in the second half…
“I’m going to take the high road on the whole thing. I don’t even think I could explain it. We have a lot of tough rules now with the referees so I’m just going to say I’m sorry and I can’t comment on it. I would love to, but I can’t.”

On Kentucky’s freshmen and if they met her expectations…
“Yeah, I actually liked them all on film. I wrote them all up on the board and talked about them a lot. I think they’ve gotten better. You can see their stats overall and you see their stats in conference play and three of their freshmen just keep moving up their stats. We were very prepared and knew who their freshmen were and what they did and we didn’t take it away. I like their freshmen a lot. I thought they played very well tonight, very composed, and had a huge impact on the game.”

On what Vanderbilt wasn’t doing effectively while Kentucky made their big run in the first half…
“We had a great lead and then Stephanie (Holzer) gets two fouls, and we were dominating them inside because they don’t have the post to defend us in there. She gets two silly fouls and now they pick up their pressure and their defense and start trapping us and being more aggressive. Then we just started playing back on our heels. We let them attack us. You either attack people or you get attacked. We became very passive on offense and nobody stepped up and wanted the ball. They would trap Jence (Rhoads) and get the ball out of her hands and nobody else looked like they wanted it. Defensively, it was check out, check out, check out which was the number one key to this team and this game. For six minutes, we didn’t get shots off. We shot 42 percent at halftime and it wasn’t that many turnovers, we couldn’t even get shots off. That’s playing on your heels, playing intimidated by the pressure they were putting on us.”