Kentucky-Tennessee Postgame Quotes

Feb. 8, 2011

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery 

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement…

“I am just really disappointed that we lost that game, just really, really disappointed.  Tennessee was just able to make a few more plays. I wish we would have executed a little bit better and won the game.”

On how big of a factor Tennessee’s size inside was to the loss…
“I think it’s a big factor. I think what we had to do was to be sharp in other areas. The rosters are what they are. They have who they have and we have who we have. That is not going to change. So we were able to do a few things to try to overcome that, but it was a big challenge.”

On if he thinks the team had Tennessee spread out more in the first half…
“Yeah, I thought we did a good job but for whatever reason we did not do that in the second half. It is very disappointing that we did not keep the tempo up in the second half. They average 15 turnovers and they had 17 at halftime. That was an excellent defensive half of basketball for us, but if you don’t duplicate that in the second half, you will not do that many times against a team like Tennessee. To make them only turn it over seven times in the second half was disappointing.”

On what was different in the second half…
“I just thought that we were really aggressive on the ball and I know a couple kids that did a good job picking up the ball and speeding them up, but they were not as attentive and I think Kamiko Williams did a good job  and could handle the pressure a lot better than No. 10 (Meighan Simmons) was.”

On what all can be taken away from this loss…
“There is always opportunity to learn from mistakes that you make and that is what we will do. I am just so disappointed because I believe in the team so much. I believe in those young women in that locker room. I am not mad at them, I am just so disappointed because if they had just done some things that we worked so hard on all year, if we had made some layups and free throws and broken them down better defensively, it may have been different . Tennessee is a fine basketball team. They are unbelievably talented and our margin for error is very slim, so we have to execute better to beat a team like that, but I do think we are capable.”

On what Tennessee did after halftime…
“They went zone and they are just so big with the zone. I think that was a good adjustment for them. They are very big and we rushed a couple shots down low and I think their zone bothered us. We had some great looks that we didn’t knock down, so I think they just paid more attention to it and got bigger people down low.”

On how big their zone was as far as controlling the tempo of the game…
“It was big. We just would not push the ball as hard off of made baskets. Of course they made a lot more baskets in the second half, so we had a lot more opportunities. Then we needed to turn it over and get some transition baskets. The zone slowed us down because then we have Jennifer O’Neill who is not real tall and they run a 6-3 forward and she shot-faked in ran into another 6-3 player, so that affected her a little bit. We just needed to move the ball a little bit better, but their zone is excellent.”

On why Keyla (Snowden) saw limited time…
“She has a stress fracture and she really struggled in practice, so this was a very rough and physical game tonight. The kids that were in there did a good job, but she never really struck me as being physically locked in and able to go against that team.”

On the defensive mismatches and that not being unavoidable…
“We were in a scramble in the press, so every now and then you get matched up not the way you would if you were to be matched up traditionally, so I do not think that was the biggest factor in the game as far as them exploiting mismatches. I thought that it was their ability to make open shots at the rim against us. They are so much bigger. I thought their kids stepped up and made some big shots at big moments and we were not able to do that so I think that was one of the biggest differences in the game.”

Kentucky Players

#00 Jennifer O’Neill, G

On Tennessee’s size presenting a challenge…
“It was tough, but we delt with it during practice. I mean, it’s tough, but it’s a challenge that we are always ready to take on.”

On her play tonight…
“The coaches asked me to come out with a lot of energy. They wanted me to not be so quiet. Normally I’m really quiet. The coaches were just telling me that intensity was going to be key in this game. I think I did a really good job in the first half and as a unit we did a really good job in the first half. When it comes down to the wire, we have to convert.”

#34 Victoria Dunlap, F

On the difference between the first and second halves…
“I think in the first half we started off strong and we came out with a lot of intensity. In the second half, we kind of had some defensive spurts where we needed to take care of the ball more with all the pressure. It was kind of a mixture of them taking care of the ball and us just kind of letting up.”

On the rebounding margin…
“There is a lot we could have done. We missed a lot of box-out assignments. Coach Mitchell told us there were going to be three main factors in the game and that was hustle plays, rebounds and turnovers. We just weren’t effective on the boards.”

On what they could have done to reduce the rebounding deficit…
“You just have to be aggressive and push the ball back up the court. Coach talked about if Tennessee scored, we had to push the ball up the floor and get it and go and run it back at them.”

#1 A’dia Mathies, G

What they take from the loss…
“Just knowing that we can play with anybody in the country. Tennessee was ranked No. 4 in the nation. I think if we do a better job on the boards and we don’t get rebounded by 20-plus, I think we can stick together and keep hustling and learn from this. We had a chance to win.”

On if this is motivation for practice this week…
“I think it is. We just have to continue to take it one game at a time. We played well tonight. I think that once we get back in the gym, we have to come out with energy against South Carolina.”

Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt

Opening statement…
“Well first of all, what a great environment for women’s basketball. Obviously that’s what you hope for every night you go on the road or that you host at home because if you’re going to have people that just appreciate the level of play in the women’s game and obviously your fans were out in great numbers. I did see some orange but I had to look way up high for most of it and that just speaks well to what Matthew (Mitchell) and his staff have done here at Kentucky.”

On what the differences were in the second half to limit their turnovers…
“I love the fact we had halftime because we definitely addressed that issue. I think everyone was a lot more focused and I thought they shortened their passes and did a much better job at getting the ball inside and not jacking the ball up. We had a lot of that going on early. We have always as a program, and I’ve been here now 37 years, it’s inside first, inside-outside and then defense and board play is a must.”

On their length in the zone defense giving Kentucky trouble…
“We have an advantage in just the size that we have. We’ve got size, we’ve got mobility. Kelley Cain is a great presence inside. You don’t have many of those in the women’s game and I thought she was mobile and very effective. Glory Johnson is one of the best athletes on our team, if not the best. She and Meighan (Simmons), that might be a jump ball. I will tell you that (Shekinna) Stricklen, I challenged her as well and just really the whole team responded. It wasn’t like panic mode after we really settled down and started to play together.”

On their size and how they can use it to their advantage…
“We try to use that not only against Kentucky but most of the people we play. We have a size advantage if our post game is healthy. Vicki Baugh is capable of coming back at any point in time and giving us some good minutes and Alyssia Brewer is on the court again now and with Kelly Cain, you’re talking about three players that can really impose their will both offensively and defensively.”

On taking out Kentucky senior forward Victoria Dunlap in the second half after her 16-point performance in the first half…
“It was a priority in the first half but we didn’t quite get cranked up until the second half with what we needed to do. We addressed that at halftime. She’s a great player and she’s going to knock down shots if you don’t really get up on her early or deny her touches. We tried to do that as much as we could but it’s hard to do that for a 40-minute game.

“I thought one of the keys was the offensive rebounding in the second half. I thought it was huge in our favor and obviously did not favor well for them.”

Tennessee Players

#20 Shekinna Stricklen, G/F

On what was said at halftime by head coach Pat Summit…
“It was very intense. She said you really don’t want to be at practice with me tomorrow.”

On the crowd at Memorial Coliseum and if it’s become one of the tougher environments in the SEC…
“I’d have to say it was pretty loud. I think it’s been the loudest gym we’ve been in on the road. We should be used to it. It may have affected us a little bit in the first half, but we kind of put it behind us in the second half.”

#10 Meighan Simmons, G

On what Coach Summitt told her in the second half…
“She just told me that the only thing she had to say to me was keep my composure because sometimes I do go like 1,000 miles per hour. She just said keep my composure and be patient, just look at my environment because I have players around me that are willing to help like (Shekinna) Strick(len) who did an amazing job tonight. Just keeping my composure, staying patient and just hitting open shots and looking on the inside.”

On what they did differently in the second half to get control of the pace of the game better…
“I think we all just came together and then at halftime we were all being positive and we just didn’t look at the negative which was the turnovers. We were just like we need to go out in the second half and just push the ball up and do whatever we can to get a win today.”

On if the turnovers were more of a product of Kentucky’s doing or their own…
“I think it was both and I just think with us it was just that we were being kind of impatient and with them it was just their pressure defense is kind of what made us turn the ball over as well.”

On Kentucky’s pressure defense…
“I give Kentucky a lot of credit. I’d have to say they have the best pressure defense in our conference. I don’t think we’ve seen that kind of defense (before).”