Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes

Feb. 21, 2010

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery 

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement…

“I have had the good fortune of being a part of some wins over my career, and none have been more satisfying than today because of our two seniors. We could sit here all afternoon and talk about how proud I am of them and how much they have overcome during their career. It is remarkable that they are playing basketball at the level that they are playing right now. We don’t usually talk about things like that, we usually talk about the team, but we told our players that we wanted our seniors to go out with a victory. It is something to have the rest of their life. An undefeated home season is just a really remarkable feat for them. We have a lot of basketball to play, and we will stay focused and try to work to get better, but today I am extremely happy for those two kids and for our team.”

On if the team came out ready to play…

“It was fantastic. That is a special thing when there is a lot on the line and we made it an important game. When you see the players respond that way, it just makes you awfully proud of them as a coach. They were playing with enthusiasm and a lot of effort, and I think South Carolina knew we were about business today right from the tip.”

On what it means to have an undefeated home season…

“We have worked extremely hard on a few levels. One is trying to make these players understand how special it is to play at Kentucky and the opportunity they have to be Kentucky Wildcats. There is no greater opportunity to have than to put on the jersey and play in front of your fans and play in this storied building. I think we are very fortunate to do that. I think it tells me that our players understand that it is important to play well at home; we try to create a very tough home court advantage, and the more games you win, that helps you accomplish that. For 17 times they were able to find a way to get motivated to win. To me, it is a tremendous sign of progress in our program, and we beat some really good teams on that floor this year.”

On the crowd at the game today…

“It was incredible. We tried to ask our fans to come out today, and I was just so happy today when I walked out and it was packed to the rafters. Then I immediately became miserable because I wanted to win so badly. So now, I had to deal with that emotion for two hours and it was tough. It was a great sight to see, and it just couldn’t have been a better day. We have done the things to put this team in the thick of the conference race and for a packed house to see that, it was really special.”

On what you said to these two seniors when they first came here, and how you got them to buy into this program…

“Well, Lydia (Watkins) and I butted heads a lot of days and I didn’t know if she was buying in or not. She was one of those players that would give great effort one day and not so great the next and we have worked hard on our relationship over three years. She was totally focused and committed and she has been the example I have pointed to on many occasions on what it means to be a Kentucky Wildcat. You would have to be involved with her every day to really know how special it is, but she has overcome a lot. Amani (Franklin) has gone from a very introverted, non-assertive player that was very inconsistent to just the opposite. Her teammates love her. She is one of the energy people on our team. She can look at you in the eye and talk to you now. She has been a force on the backboard all season long which takes a lot of effort. And I am not even talking about the physical stuff they have had to overcome. I am just happy they are finishing off this career, and they seem to be preparing themselves for what is beyond, so I am really happy for both of those kids.”

On the game being an almost complete reversal statistically from the first time they played South Carolina and what it says about this team…

“It is a great thing because that is what they did to us in Columbia. They ran by us all night and scored at the rim. I thought in the first half when we were able to take control of the game; it was an incredible display of transition offense. We have worked really hard on trying to get a deep outlet, Amber Smith trying to slash the floor and put pressure on the defense. And we would just run and run and try to get plays at the rim. So, the players have to play extremely hard to do that, plus stay mentally focused at that high rate of speed. It is not the easiest thing to do. That was, I thought, the difference in us being able to stop their transition, and then us being able to get going.”

Kentucky Players

# 25, Amani Franklin, G

On the crowd …

“It was crazy. I think that is the most we have had all season. It was awesome, especially being that it’s senior day and me and Lydia (Watkins) were able to finish the season at home undefeated. It’s just awesome. “

On the emotion of Senior Day …

“I’m a big cry baby. If you know me, you know I’m a big cry baby and all the emotion of this being our last home game ever, I just bawled out.”

On the undefeated home season …

“It starts with the fans. We have a good turnout every home game and they pump us up and we were hyped about that. We were able to go out there and play for them.”

On the transition offense …

“It was great, we knew that going in we were going to be able to beat them going up and down the court. He told us to run in transition and they weren’t able to stop us. I think we had something like 14 transition points and they didn’t have any, so we were able to score some in transition and able to stop them.”

#12 Lydia Watkins, G/F

On senior day…

“It was great. I have been waiting for this for awhile. It is definitely sad, but I am not the type to cry like Amani. All my joys come out through a smile.”

On how much losing at South Carolina earlier in the year fueled today’s effort…

“After we lost at South Carolina, right after the game, we knew it was going to be payback. Just to come out from the start, having great fans and having that energy out there, we just knew what kind of game it was going to be. We knew the things we had to do.”

On her relationship with Coach Mitchell…

“We have just been communicating better. When I first got here I didn’t communicate with him, and I kept things to myself, like when I was hurting. It affected my game on the court which made him mad. So, I have grown and started communicating with him better, and it has definitely helped us a lot.”

#34 Victoria Dunlap

On playing for seniors, Amani Franklin and Lydia Watkins…

“Coach Mitchell put a lot of emphasis on Amani and Lydia to make sure that we came out and played hard since it was our last home game with them. It was the type of game where we wanted the focus to be on the seniors, so that they were able to do anything during this game. We did not want to go out with another loss on senior night. We played hard for them.”

On starting off strong against South Carolina…

“The 9-1 run was a big statement for us to make. Coach Mitchell wanted us to come out strong from the beginning and start from there. We wanted to keep going with the run that we had at the start of the game. It helped us get further in the game, especially defensively where we were able to stop the ball and then get baskets.”

On neutralizing Kelsey Bone in tonight’s game…

“At South Carolina we relaxed in the post. We did not try as hard to get in front of her and stop the ball. This time around we trapped better. There was also a lot of guard ball pressure that helped.”

South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley

On South Carolina’s loss to Kentucky…

“They played with a lot more energy and it was a packed house. They were able to score some buckets. I thought we did a horrible job of getting Kelsey Bone the ball in the first half. That was on us. [Kentucky] had somebody in front and behind, and they did the same thing in the second half. But, [in the second half] we made a conscious effort to get her the ball. Good things happen once we let that happen. We just couldn’t rebound the ball or defend. After some of our turnovers, Kentucky just got out and got a lot of fast break points.”