Kentucky-Tennessee Postgame Quotes

March 9, 2014

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THE MODERATOR: We'll take an opening comment from Coach Mitchell and then open it up for questions.

COACH MITCHELL: Well, just extremely proud of our team. They had a great tournament and worked really hard. Just couldn't be prouder of how they came together. Just lost a real tough game today.

I wouldn't trade locker rooms, I can tell you that.


Q. Jordan Reynolds hasn't been one of Tennessee's most prominent players this year, but comment on her play down the stretch.

COACH MITCHELL: She did a good job. We didn't have good coverage. We'd done such a good job on such a lot of stuff, they went to a high, flat ball screen. That's my fault for not having the players know what to do there.

She did a nice job and she's a good player.

Q. Talk us through the free throw, what you wanted to happen there.

COACH MITCHELL: Well, we were down four. We felt like the only chance we had was either to make a three and foul or either get fouled on the three-point strike. You can make two, then miss one, get the rebound.

We felt like we still had a chance. So we just had run the play a couple times, and it worked really well. Got their player up in the air. We were trying to make the first two and miss the third one. Like I told Jen, we don't practice missing enough. We didn't miss it, we made it, so...

Been times we tried to miss it, we made it.

That's what we were trying to do, get an offensive board and tie the game up.

Q. You scored to go up 59-54 with 5:27 and had two field goals the rest of the game.

COACH MITCHELL: Tennessee defense, they got real physical, started riding us out of the lane. We didn't respond well. We just didn't execute well. That's 100% on me. I'm in charge of the execution.

It just was a tough, tough game. We just never could get the offensive glass today. I thought that really, really hurt us.

Yeah, we were trying. We tried hard. They got real, real, real, real physical down at the end of the game. We just weren't able to respond to that well enough.

Q. Coach, now that this one is over, you start to put it behind you, look towards the NCAAs. Can you speak about preparing your team for that tournament.

COACH MITCHELL: Well, the good thing for us is we've become a team, so we have a team heading into the NCAA tournament. That's what we needed to be to have a chance to get to the Final Four. I think we've accomplished that.

Now I'm really excited about the NCAA tournament. A lot of people thought we were dead in the water. We're not. We're here and we're ready to roll. I'm glad I'm coaching Kentucky.

Q. What did the officials talk to you about on the two double technicals in a row? How much did you feel like that changed the flow of the game?

COACH MITCHELL: Changed it a lot. I was talking to them before that, that 11 for Tennessee was starting that kind of activity in the game. If you don't get control of that, you get competitive players going, I mean, our players wanted to win today, but we certainly don't want that kind of activity going on.

So it's not the first time that's happened with that player. So you watch film. You see how players act. So I noticed it early on. It's a loud arena. It's a tough game. I guess they didn't see it.

But I kept talking to them. Finally it bowled over into what it was. Then you get into double technicals. You're trying to figure out who said something first. I'm pretty clear what was going on there. I hate our players lost composure. But it's real, real difficult in this kind of competitive environment. It should be stopped at the beginning of the activity. Unfortunately today it was not.

So I'm proud of our players and how they conducted themselves. But I was very disappointed in how that affected the game. I think it could have been stopped much earlier than it boiling over and affecting the game. Certainly got Samarie upset. Then DeNesha tried to have composure and walk away from the second incident.

That's not what I wanted to see in the SEC championship game. I'd rather see two teams play, not have a bunch of talking, yapping, unsportsmanlike conduct, but that's what it ended up being.

Q. After a game like that, what do you say to them in the locker room?

COACH MITCHELL: Proud to coach 'em. Proud to coach 'em. Wouldn't trade locker rooms right now with anybody in the country. Proud to coach 'em.

Everybody had us in the coffin and throwing dirt on top of it when we left Gainesville. Our team has become a team. I don't know what they could have done other than their coach help them guard a flat ball screen better down the stretch, just get more physical maybe in the last three or four minutes.

But it's a great, great feeling to be coaching Kentucky right now because that's a bunch of players that are very upset, very down. They gave it everything they had to win the tournament. We came up one point short.

Q. What is your expectation as far as your seeding for the next tournament?

COACH MITCHELL: I'm the worst person in the world to ask because I don't pay attention to any of that because I have zero control over it. We've had our hands full trying to become a team. So I don't have any idea.

Somebody told us they had us at a four. I think that's a joke. I don't think we're a four. Other than that, that would be my only opinion. I guess I would say we're not a four.

But I don't have any control over the seeding, so maybe we'll be a four. Maybe we'll be a five.

But I'll tell you this, I'm glad I'm coaching Kentucky going to the NCAA tournament. I don't know if anybody will be jumping for joy if they get the Wildcats in the first round.

Q. You brought your teams here the last few years and haven't quite been able to get over the hump. What's missing at this point?

COACH MITCHELL: I don't know that anything was missing today other than they came up one point better than us.

I can't tell you how much respect I have for the Southeastern Conference, to be a member of it, to get to compete in it. I can't tell you how much respect I have for this tournament. It's real special to all of us at Kentucky. Our players wanted to win it bad.

I don't know what was missing. Didn't look like a lot. We just came up one point short today.

Q. DeNesha, do you try to use this as something to motivate you going forward? How quickly do you feel like you can put something like this behind you?

DeNesha Stallworth: Definitely it's a motivation. Like coach said, it was a great day for us to come together. Regardless of what happened on the court, we stuck together. That's just the most important thing.

Just going to the NCAA tournament, everybody is focused. We just have to focus on the task at hand, and that's going to the Final Four. We're just taking it one day at a time and, like I said, just staying together.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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