Kentucky-Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes

March 8, 2013

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Kentucky head Coach Matthew Mitchell and players A'dia Mathies and DeNesha Stallworth

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell and student-athletes A'dia Mathies and DeNesha Stallworth. Coach, an opening comment.

COACH MITCHELL: Well, it's a terrific start to the tournament for us. We are very excited to be here and playing in the tournament. We feel really honored to have a chance to compete for the championship.

I was so pleased with our players. They gave a terrific effort today and really, really proud. Vanderbilt has a good team. They're tough. They made it tough on us to get the victory.

But I was real proud of our players and we're excited to have a chance to play again tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: If you could each make a comment about today's game.

A'dia Mathies: I think it was a great game tonight. A game we definitely needed. We just wanted to come out here and make a statement. Just know that we're looking forward to winning the championship.

Vanderbilt was a great team. They came out and fought us very tough. We came out with the win and I'm glad we did.

DeNesha Stallworth: To add on to what A'dia said, everything was a team effort. Everybody came in and gave great minutes. We're looking forward to this next game.


Q. A'dia, you talked yesterday at practice about how you wanted to go out on top. How do you feel like your team competed?

A'dia Mathies: I think we did a great job tonight. We just played 40 minutes with fresh legs. I think that played a huge factor tonight. When we can have two people running down the court instead of one person...

It's going to take a toll on 'em for the last minutes. I think we was getting great post-ups, making good plays, especially defensively we was getting big stops. I'm proud of their effort.

Q. (No microphone.)

COACH MITCHELL: I thought the start was very good for us. We wanted to have a fast start. We wanted to use the energy of the second five coming in fresh, almost like they were starting the game.

We talked about that before the game. That was the plan before the game. I thought we had a great start.

It's exciting to be here and playing in this tournament. I think our players are excited. We feel like we have quality depth. In this setting, I think it can be very, very useful.

I love the way we started and our intensity.

Q. Coach, can you talk about the defensive pressure, especially on their guards.

COACH MITCHELL: Jasmine Lister is a very good player. She is their primary ball handler. We're just fortunate that we have some depth and we're fortunate that these players have worked really hard to be in the position to play that kind of defense. You just don't show up today and say, Hey, we're going to play pressure defense. It started back last summer.

When you have one primary ball handler, our plan is to try to make that very difficult and try to make fatigue a factor.

She's a very good player and I was very pleased that we were able to get as many turnovers against her because she is such an excellent ball player.

Q. How noticeable was that depth tonight, especially going up against a team that already played one game?

COACH MITCHELL: I thought we had some stretches in the game where it was pretty noticeable that we were able to get some baskets because we were maybe a bit fresher.

I thought our two point guards really did an outstanding job tonight, Jennifer and Janee, one of the best games we've had them as a tandem. I thought they were pretty relentless with pushing the basketball. That was something we wrote on the board before the game, we wanted to be relentless in this game. We wanted to push the basketball. We wanted to make pace a factor.

Really, really pleased. Just excited for our team to have this opportunity. I think we have an opportunity to advance tomorrow no matter who we play. I think if we will just keep a great attitude and stay really hungry, we have an outstanding chance. We want to advance.

Q. Coach, nobody played more than 26 minutes. How big is that going forward for saving legs?

COACH MITCHELL: Well, we'll see. In theory it should be great. I have been to a lot of these tournaments and I don't think you can make any guarantees. If our players will recognize that we're stronger when all of us come together and really give great effort, I think that it can be a great factor.

But we just have to stay real focused. We have to continue to hustle. I thought we did that. We have to really work hard on defense. I thought we did that today, pushed the pace.

It was really a fun day for our players. I thought they played together and worked really hard. We just need to concentrate on what we know, will help us be successful.

But we certainly are planning on the depth being a factor in the tournament. We want it to be.

Q. You spoke specifically about the depth possibly playing a role in the post. How pleased were you with the play of Azia and Samantha tonight?

COACH MITCHELL: Gosh, I just thought they played beautifully. I thought it was probably their best game, too, as a tandem. Many times they came in and spelled Samarie and DeNesha. I thought we got tremendous production from them. Azia Bishop continues to develop and play good basketball. That's huge for our team. Samantha, had to be her best game of the season.

We believe those two players are very talented. It's a great luxury for us to have right now. We need to continue to take advantage of it.

Q. Do you see those kids coming off the bench maybe getting some confidence that they didn't have midway through the season?

COACH MITCHELL: I thought since we made a commitment to it in Oxford, at the Ole Miss game, I really noticed it in the practices leading up to that when we said, Hey, here's the plan.

Since then we've seen an energetic group. I would agree with that. I think they do have some confidence. They should. They have performed well in three straight games and it's really made a difference for our basketball team.

I'm really happy with all of our players. We have a tremendous group of players. I just want to see if we can advance tomorrow and do everything we can to prepare to get that done.

Q. How important is that cohesion with each five coming in? Is that why you're doing that? Do you also feel confident you can mix and match a little bit?

COACH MITCHELL: We definitely can. We don't have to do five at a time.

I think the second unit is confident right now because their roles have been clearly defined. I think they are taking some pride of coming in as a unit and being productive.

We mixed it up some today. We didn't go five for five every time. We have some really good combination on this team.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

COACH MITCHELL: Thanks, everybody.

Vanderbily head coach Melanie Balcomb and players Jasmine Lister and Tiffany Clarke

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb and student-athletes Jasmine Lister and Tiffany Clarke. We'll begin with an opening comment from coach.

COACH BALCOMB: Not a lot to say. I just really think the best thing to say is Kentucky's defense to start the game was really good, really aggressive, really physical, created a lot of offense off their defense. Just pretty much want to give them credit for how they came out and attacked us right away and put us on our heels. Then we just tried to fight back the rest of the game.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.

Q. At times during the game, there were spurts when things went well for you and other spurts where they didn't go so well. Could you talk about when things went well what was happening that allowed you to do that.

TIFFANY CLARKE: I think when things went well, we were just playing Vanderbilt basketball. We were playing like we knew how to play. Then when they stepped up their intensity, they went on their runs, I think we kind of lost sight of what we do and started playing Kentucky basketball instead of sticking to how we know how to play.

JASMINE LISTER: Going along with Tiffany, definitely our runs came from getting stops on defense, going fast to slow, kicking out, playing what we know how to do.

On the flipside, when we sped up, wanted to play like them, then we turned the ball over and we weren't getting stops and letting them attack us those runs.

Q. Kentucky has a five-for-five substitution pattern. Can you talk about what it's like to play against that. It's almost a new team every four minutes.

JASMINE LISTER: I mean, they keep them fresh. They all go hard the entire time they're in, so you've got to give them credit for that.

It's a mentality for us that we just have to keep playing harder and harder, not let that get into our heads that there's new people coming in to guard us. We just need to stay focused on our game plan and deal with what we have.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for coach.

Q. The same question for you that I asked your players: what was the difference between the good spurts and the times when Kentucky made some more distance, separation?

COACH BALCOMB: I think what Jas said is correct. A lot of it had to do with tempo, what we were trying to do. At the same time I think we won games recently. We've been on a 5-2 run since we played Kentucky last time. It's been because of our defense and our rebounding.

I felt like every time we did make a run and we took care of the ball, got the ball inside to Tiff, got a good shot for somebody, then we didn't get the stop on defense that we needed. We fouled them, sent them to the free-throw line. They attacked.

We made mistakes when we couldn't afford to make mistakes. They were mental breakdowns we couldn't afford at that point in the second half with the runs.

Q. Coach, you played five freshmen today. How important is it going forward for the program to get those freshmen experience playing in the SEC tournament?

COACH BALCOMB: I think it's really important. I was really pleased with their progress over the last month. Since the last time we played Kentucky, we look like a different team because we've been playing the freshmen more when Foggie went down. It gave opportunities for the guards. You saw J.J. and Morgan step up, just like Heather did early when Steph went down. When you had Katie and Foggie, you had that, then the guards got more experience.

I also like what Kendall was able to do in the tournament, tried to play her more minutes. I think she's intimidating on defense. I think offensively obviously she can score and give us good size.

I'm pleased with their progress. I think at key times they made some mental mistakes that hurt us. But I think they're going to keep getting better. Like I said, hopefully they'll continue to play and get them even more experience.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.

COACH BALCOMB: Thanks a lot.

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