Kentucky-Tennessee Postgame Quotes

Feb. 25, 2010

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement

"I think you have to start with the great play of Tennessee. It was a very powerful performance tonight. We just had a very difficult time getting into anything we wanted to do, and that's a credit to them. I thought they really showed that when they want to assert themselves, they can be a very powerful basketball team. We're disappointed with the outcome. We'll just try learn whatever we can from the game and try to get ready for another tough one on Sunday."

On Tennessee's improvement this season compared to a year ago

"I think they are very talented and are a good basketball team. You saw if they are in tune defensively and playing aggressively, then they can be really tough."

On securing the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament on the other side of the bracket from No. 1 UT

"We're just glad that we have had a good season up until this point. We've done a good job all season of focusing on nobody but ourselves. Tennessee has a fantastic team. We're glad we're away from them. We'll try to learn from it. If we have to play them again, we'll have to see if we can play better."

On early foul trouble

"We weren't able to be as aggressive. Our margin for error is very slim. Things had to go well for us to beat them tonight. I thought any combination of factors affected us, but that was one of them. I was really proud of A'dia Mathies. I thought she came back in with two fouls in a tough situation and kept battling. I thought her first performance here was a gritty one."

On Tennessee being kicked out of their locker room last year after losing to Kentucky

"I would have no idea. We're just in a different spot. We're not focused on revenge. We have to work hard to do well. Our team has done well with that. If that was some type of motivation for them tonight, then that helped them. I think they just came out trying to play a strong game. Obviously, they didn't feel real good about being kicked out of the locker room. That's not anything I really know about."

On watching Tennessee's improvement over the last month

"I've watched a lot of film on them, and I think they showed another gear tonight. This was not the team that played Alabama (last week) for instance. If you watch that game, you start to think there are some things you can exploit, and areas where you could get things done. I thought tonight, they really asserted themselves in a positive way. I thought they played with a lot of effort and physicality. I thought they were very powerful and tough tonight. I would think that anyone who has watched them tonight would say they played real well and that's a good sign that they are improving."

On forward Victoria Dunlap's double-double performance (22 points, 10 rebounds

"Victoria Dunlap and all of our players tonight, when they came to the huddle they were scratching, clawing and bleeding. You could tell they were working hard. Victoria played with a lot of tenacity. She has tremendous character and she doesn't give up. If it was anybody's fault it was mine for saying let's get in the lane and try to score at the rim. I thought she did that. She was tough. Even when we got shots blocked, I thought all of our players played aggressive. I'm really fortunate to have coached Victoria Dunlap."

Kentucky Players

Junior forward Victoria Dunlap

On Tennessee's size off the bench

"Sometimes it's difficult to handle big people - also when you have somebody who isn't their body build coming off the bench. That's not the mentality we take, though. If they're big or their small, you can't worry about what they're going to do."

On Kentucky winning 23 games and earning the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament this season

"I think we accomplished that we could play basketball and play hard against the rest of the teams in the SEC. We won't just lay down and accept that we were picked 11th (by the coaches and media in the preseason)."

Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt

opening remarks): "Overall, I thought we had a lot of energy and did a lot of good things. From a defensive perspective, we started strong. We knew that they (Kentucky) would be committed to the three-ball. We gave up 15, but they only made four. Our defense was solid, and on board play, we had an edge there. We did much better defensively. I'm not crazy about our turnovers, especially at the end of the game. Our bench has to step up and play if they want to get minutes."

on Tennessee's scoring balance):

"It's important to have balance. Some nights, our guard play is going to be open more, and we're going to knock down shots from the perimeter. We're going to take what good looks that we have. We've got to have balance. Paint points are important, and that's where we start. That opens the perimeter for us. We did a better job off screens tonight. We've got to get better in those areas. Our post game draws a lot of attention. They're reading and kicking the ball out."

on winning the SEC Championship

"It's great to watch the progress this team has made from last year to this year. It's because of the investment they've made on the court and in the weight room. They're focused. They understand what it takes now. They have high energy. I like where we are. We've had some tight games where we've played poorly and had to dig to get a win. They wanted this. This meant a lot to this team. They wanted to win something. It's the first time they've been able to win outright. We talked about it, but we didn't dwell on it. They understand now what it takes."

on Alicia Manning's 11 rebounds

"She has a nose for the ball and pursues out of her area. She goes after it. She's very driven and competitive. She's only going to get better. She understands her strengths. If I were out on the farm, I'd say that she's a workhorse. She just works and works and works. If her shot is not falling, she finds other ways to help the team. She's focused and gets others involved."

on Tennessee's improvement at the free throw line

"The difference now is they're not talking. They're focused on making free throws. Credit the team. If they're talking, they're not real good. If they're focused, they're good."

on handling Kentucky's defense

"Overall, we handled things. We knew that they would come out and get after us on defense and push tempo. After we settled down, we worked for the shots we wanted. I thought we had a toughness on the defensive end as well."

Tennessee Players

Junior guard Angie Bjorklund

On clinching the SEC regular season championship

"We're excited that we finally won something. Our focus going into this game was that if we won this game, we won the SEC. That was our first goal (this season), and we accomplished it. Now, we have to take care of Ole Miss and head into the SEC Tournament. We're looking forward to it."

On the defensive presence of Tennessee's post players

"Knowing that they'll have our backs is huge. If we get beat baseline, they're going to be right there. Just having that confidence in each other and knowing each other really well helps us on the court."

On how having such strong shot blocking helps the UT guards defensively

"I think if teams watch film, they have to take that into account. This team is tall and we get a lot of blocks inside. That helps us keep people out of the paint. That's one of our main focuses--not letting teams get points in the paint and making them shoot over us from the outside. Just having Kelley Cain and Alyssia Brewer is a huge factor for us."

Sophomore forward Glory Johnson

On the significance of winning the SEC regular season championship

"We've come a long way and our confidence is a lot better. We know what we have to do and we know that we should be dominating some of the teams that we struggled with last year. Understanding that and having confidence has helped us this year."

On losing locker room privileges after dropping a road game to Kentucky last February

"We talked about it right after the LSU game (on Monday night). We wanted to make sure that we were ready for this team--we remembered what they did last time, and we didn't want to let it happen again."

On the play of sophomore Alicia Manning, who had 11 rebounds

"Eleven rebounds is great. She loves to rebound and she's so athletic, and it shows in her game. She's a guard but she plays in the post. She can do so much for this team."

Sophomore guard Shekinna Stricklen  

On the importance of hitting some key jump shots in the first half

"I felt like that was very important. It just showed that extra shooting is paying off. When a post is double-teamed we're going to be wide open, and we have to hit those shots."

On Tennessee's guard play

"I feel like we're very confident. We're getting a lot of extra shots outside of practice and it makes you feel more confident. Our posts have been killing teams, so you know they're going to double them. We just have to knock some shots down."

On the lack of an on-court celebration

"I think we have the big picture in mind. The game tonight showed that we were getting ready for tournament time. We went crazy and celebrated in the locker room but not on the court."

On avoiding a letdown in the regular season finale Sunday against Ole Miss

"We have to come strong on Sunday. We are a totally different team, and if we keep playing like we've been playing and having fun, it will pay off."

On her excitement after taking a charge

"I think I get more excited taking the charge or when I throw a good assist to the post than when I score. I feel like when I get excited, everyone else gets excited, and it brings a lot of energy to the team."