Kentucky-Liberty Postgame Quotes

March 20, 2010

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

(Opening Statement)

"We were extremely happy to win that game. I thought our players really fought through some adversity during the game and that was caused by a fine Liberty team. I couldn't be more impressed with how they played and how hard their kids competed today. We definitely have a lot of respect for Liberty . Their coaching staff did a great job of getting them prepared and I thought they played a fantastic game. I'm proud of our team for beating a very good team today. That was a good basketball game. We didn't always have things going our way, but to the players credit they were able to get it turned around and did some really good things. We're thrilled with the win and excited to be advancing to the second round."

(On A'dia's game)

"I definitely think there were varying degrees of nervousness. I wouldn't begin to tell you I know exactly what A'dia was thinking or feeling. I think that she handles it a little better than a lot of people do. I just think she has that ability. She sort of has that quiet confidence about her self. She cares so much for her teammates. I think she understands how valuable she is. Great players can sense when they need to raise their level. She really kept us in it there. It is remarkable to see a freshman with all the potential pitfalls she could have fallen into. Being back at home, being a freshman, and playing in her first NCAA Tournament game; you could find all sorts of things that could've thrown her off, but they didn't. I've said this a bunch of times, but I'm glad she's wearing a Kentucky uniform."

(On rebounding)

"I was disappointed in the rebounding. It is something that you're trying to get prepared for going into the game. That was an area of strength for them. It's been at times for us an Achilles heel of sorts, and then we've had some performances when we were able to rebound. I'm disappointed that we didn't do a better job, but I'm telling you that these kids are human beings. They are not machines that you can just turn on. There was a lot going on out there today. I told them I didn't know what to expect. I thought that we looked like we hadn't played in a while. We showed some rust and some nervousness. Early on, the way they were crashing the boards, that's a team from our standpoint who is not in tune and not doing what they needed to be doing. I think that means they were a little distracted with the situation. Hopefully we will get over that and do better. I thought Liberty just came to the boards all day long. They've done it all year and they are the best in the country statistically. It's not a huge surprise that they had a good day rebounding."

(On Keyla Snowden and her confidence)

"I appreciate her honesty because this is a big stage for her to be on. It is refreshing to me that she can admit to being nervous. That is something that you can move forward from. It shows that she worked herself through that. I was talking with a good friend of mine who is a coach and has been in a lot of tournaments. It's funny because this particular coach was talking about what a weapon Keyla could be. It would take her two or three shots to really impact the game. I thought that was a big key to our team today. She was trying to stay positive and I could tell that she was nervous. I just tried to help her stay settled down and not crawl all over her or get on her real bad. I just told her she could do it. Those three pointers were huge that she made. It just takes her one generally to go down to get her going."

(On nerves before the game)

"I wasn't real nervous. I just had a really high level of anticipation and curiosity, wondering how we would react. I'm trying to do everything I can to keep them loose. That's what I thought this team needed to do to go in and not feel the pressure. Maybe that was okay. I'm not going to sit up here and tell you I knew exactly what was going to happen. I was ready to get out there. I was very excited to see the crowd. That means a lot to me and reminded me how fortunate I am to be able to coach at Kentucky . When I walk down that tunnel and I heard the crowd when our team hit the floor, it was an amazing feeling. Once we got out there it was a battle. I have a lot of respect for Liberty . It was not that much different from my perspective from any other big game we go into play."

(On attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line)

"We were real concerned at halftime that Liberty was more aggressive. A lot of that had to do with offensive aggressiveness and driving to the basket. I thought we were standing around in the first half. We talked about some things defensively, but offensively we wanted to see if we could get ball reversal. That means that we were running our stuff and trying to execute. At some point people were going to have to start going the basket and A'dia and ( Lydia ) Watkins did it. Everybody got into the act. I agree with Carey (Green), I think that was a big key for us being able to get the lead. We were able to drive and get to the line and stretch the lead a couple of times. I think that was an important turnaround for us in the second half."

(On swarming second half defense)

"Today was a little bit different for us because I thought we were inconsistent with our pressure. You could see when we went down early in the game; we really had a stretch there that was pretty impressive. We got several turnovers. Then we had another stretch I think at the end of the half. I was disappointed that we didn't sustain that. We are going to have to play a little more consistently defensively. That was a pretty good question. We look to see that on Monday because that is our identity. We need to be able to create some havoc for the other team. We need to be able to pressure them to speed them up and create turnovers. That is definitely part of the plan going in. We need to do that a little bit better. I didn't think Amber Smith, with her ball pressure, had one of her best days. I don't know if that was because of the long layoff or what, but I'd expect that she plays better Monday."

(On getting first NCAA win under his belt)

"I thought it was a great result for us no matter how it happened. We could have lost that game. There is no question that Liberty was good enough to beat us today. I'm not sure that they are a 13 seed. I think that is a good basketball team. We just found a way to step up and survive and advance. That old adage holds true. I'm going to try to do what I can to put this one behind us and get ready for the next 40 minutes; the only 40 that is guaranteed to us. I'm really happy to win this game today and extremely proud of the players. I think for us, we hear so many times how great of a team we've had and how great we've been and how special we are. One of the things you worry about is them saying `We've done enough.' They did not do that today. They could have said we've done enough and we're not going to rally here and come together and win. A lot of credit to the players. I'm happy for them that they were able to find a way to win."

Kentucky Players

Freshman Guard A'dia Mathies

(On how it felt to play in her first NCAA Tournament)

"I didn't know what to expect. Some of my shots were falling in the first half. That gave me a boost in confidence and helped get our team on a roll. We were being aggressive and I think that's what helped us get the win tonight."

(On her first game back home in Louisville )

"It means a lot to be able to play another game for Kentucky in front of all the fans, friends, and family. I think this will give us a boost in confidence, especially since none of us have been here before. This will really help us out in the long run. I didn't know what to expect so I just went out there and played. I heard somebody yell my name when we were warming up. I didn't want to look in the stands, but I took a quick glance. It was one of my best friend's mom. There were quite a few people out there and I'm glad they came to support us."

Sophomore Guard Kelya Snowden

(On her game today)

"I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates because they found me when I was open. I know a lot of them were saying that they weren't nervous but I think that kind of affected me in the first half. My teammates stayed with me and my coaches encouraged me and that helped me loosen up and get going in the second half."

Junior Forward Victoria Dunlap

(On being nervous early in the game)

"In the beginning we weren't playing Kentucky basketball. It looked like we hadn't played basketball in a long time the way we were running around, not making shots, and missing lay-ups. I think we got into ourselves and told ourselves we needed to get it together. The coaches were telling us to stay positive and not get down on ourselves. I don't think we were nervous. I just think as a team we weren't there mentally. A'dia was scoring for us early. I don't really know how to explain it but we just weren't ourselves."

(On A'dia Mathies play)

"She helped out a lot. She has the ability to score outside, inside, she can get the basket. It's just the type of player she is. She wasn't going to let anybody stop her."'

(On the teams defense in the first half)

"I can't think of anything specific that he said. He was really talking about rebounding because they were killing us on the boards. He kept saying that we needed to box out and keep them off the offensive glass. We needed to keep them from penetrating to the basket. That helped us get our mentality where it needed to be on the defensive end."