Kentucky-Michigan State Postgame Quotes

March 22, 2010

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

(Opening Statement) "First off I would like to thank Tom Jurich and Julie Hermann for bringing the first two rounds of the tournament to Louisville. We were very fortunate to get to play here. I can't say enough about Holly Sheilley, the tournament director, what a first class person she is. From our security detail to the people that greeted us, it was just a first class operation and I am grateful for the way we were treated. I could not be more proud of a group of young women who I am very fortunate to coach. They brought it tonight and I don't have adequate words to describe how proud I am. They played extremely hard. I'm just really happy for our two seniors who have battled through so much and have become great people and great players. They were huge tonight and I'm happy we're advancing in this tournament.

(On exploiting MSU defense at high post with Victoria) "I was not exactly sure what would happen. That was the plan, but I couldn't get a great handle on them because we have not seen a team that played a style which we tried to employ. I thought she could get around them some if they came out and guarded her. I thought they got out just enough at times that she made some pretty good reads and did a great job playing against size tonight. We needed her to do it and Victoria (Dunlap) was taking IV's before the game. She woke up sick this morning which was a problem for us. I didn't know what she was going to do today since she was sick all day long. What a performance.

(On MSU cutting lead to two, and following Kentucky run) "The run was a great feeling because the plan starts to take shape and develop. Michigan State is a good basketball team and I didn't know if the plan was going to work out. I thought we had a great chance to be faster and for our pressure to hurt them. When it started to happen it was a great felling. The kids committed tonight to pressuring the basketball and that's what we had to do. I thought we forced Michigan State into taking some shots they usually don't take. Our ability to rebound, I was so thrilled to see us out rebound that team. I think that's a real testament to how hard our players play. When we were able to get rolling in transition, I thought it was a pretty good sign for us.

(How old in 1982, and breaking through barrier since 1982 season) "I was 11 for most of the year and turned 12 later in the year. Personally I'm happy I get another week with this team. Today was a tough day for me and I try not to put myself into it and keep the focus on the players. Amani (Franklin) walked in the locker room before the game and I thought how awful it would be if this was the last game we played. I don't generally have thoughts like that, so it tells you how special these players are. We won't take for granted this particular team who are committed to being one of the top teams in the country which is not easy to do. They have set a standard for the program that next year's team will have to live up to. I'm not sure if that team will be as willing to work as hard, but this team sure has been. It's a great thing for our current players and any positive momentum we can gain from it will be great. Right now, I'm in the moment with this group and would like to push it as far as we can go.

(On seven different players scoring during the run) "I thought it was a commitment to run the floor. I thought everybody got involved in transition and when Keyla (Snowden) and Rebecca (Gray) run to corners in transition it really puts the defense in a bad position. They have to either guard the bucket or pinch out on them. It helps our transition game. Everybody played with confidence. Before the game I told them I was scared that this could be the last game we could play together. I was trying to admit that to them and we could not play with any fear. I thought we played remarkably confident and I don't think any fear crept in. I was very impressed with that because I was a basket case today. I had a hard day with the emotions. Maybe that was good for me and they didn't seem to have a hard day today.

(On development of Kentucky program) "We were close to the sweet 16 when I began. That's no disrespect to those players. Our first two teams played hard and gave a lot of effort. They were in a difficult situation with the coaching transition. I love both of those teams and think they did some really good things. I think what makes this group special is that we've tried to make them understand how special it is to play at Kentucky. We think it's special to be at the University of Kentucky. This team is getting closer to the mentality of appreciating their opportunity. We've come a long way in that respect which makes you proud as a coach. These players are a special group.

(On coming out fearless and rebounding) "It's a big time game and there's nothing that can help you settle into a basketball game than making big shots. I don't care what anybody says, we are a defensive team. You make a few shots and everybody starts to feel better. I thought that was a great opening for both teams and a real battle. We talked over the past 24hours about rebounding and I'm thrilled we were able to out rebound Michigan State. Rebecca (Gray) is down on the floor and Keyla (Snowden) is in there boxing out and getting a foul. That kind of play gets you able to tell the team how committed they are. We can't advance in this tournament without the team playing selfless basketball. They are a fun group and I'm fortunate to coach them.

(On Sweet 16 validating teams success) "They don't need to validate themselves to me. I know what they can do. If that validates it across the country and it's great if we get positive recognition. We need to resist the feeling of the Sweet Sixteen being a place of arrival. If anything this team has a good chance of advancing in the next round. That's all they need to worry about. There has been a lot of milestones with this team and to their credit they have not stopped to smell the roses. We will fight like crazy to make them aware that they have a wonderful shot at advancing. No matter who they have next Sunday, they have a great chance to advance. We will enjoy our day off and then I expect them to get back to work. We are happy to be going to Kansas City.

Kentucky Players

Victoria Dunlap, Junior Forward

(Have you ever played in a more physical game?) "Yes I have. That was not the most physical game that we have played in. With their size they obviously had a lot of contact down low." (Did you feel that your pressure would kick in the second half and did you feel it when it did?) "Yes. When we went in at halftime, coach just kept telling us to pressure the ball and not let up at anytime. When it did start to kick in, you could just see everybody getting into the flow and getting into the passing lane and being real aggressive and it just went on from there." (Did you hurt your ankle?) "Yeah I did late in the first half; I just came down on it wrong. I really didn't tell anybody about it because it was not a bad sprain or anything like that. I think just getting the breaks that coach talked to me about just kept me focused and kept my energy up and just playing hard for my teammates." (What was your mindset going into today's game and what was your mindset against going against a taller MSU frontcourt?) "The coaches really put it into my mind today that I should try to go around the post players and not try to go through them. In past games I've tried to post up and just turn around and shoot a jumper but coach talked about being aggressive outside and just going around them and focusing on making lay-ups." (Could you talk about playing taller than you really are?) "I just play like that. Coach always tells me to just play taller than my size and not just taking it as I'm shorter than someone and not being aggressive about it. Once we start going and getting stops and making lay-ups and just getting on the boards, as a team everyone was getting excited and we were hitting three's and getting transition lay-ups and from there everybody just took it and kept going with it." (Can you talk about how there is a little time to celebrate now but there is a lot more basketball to be played?) "We can't get satisfied now even though we are going to the sweet 16. I'm pretty sure coach is going to tell us we can't settle for were we've gone. I know people are going to tell us that we have had a great season but even if we do go there and lose we just can't think that way and no matter what we are going to go in there and play hard."

Amani Franklin, Senior Guard

(Can you talk about what it means to you as a senior to be playing in the sweet 16?)

"This is the first time we have been to the NCAA tournament. We have been to three straight NIT's, me and Lydia . We just knew coming into the season what type of team we could be and that is what we are showing right now." (Can you talk about the team effort tonight?) "We all came to play together and before the game coach talked about coming out and playing with sincerity. I think all of us came out and played with sincerity today."

Lydia Watkins, Senior Forward

(Can you talk about what it means to you as a senior to be playing in the sweet 16?)

"It's a great opportunity for us, just going on to another level of the game. We have never been to it before but it is a very special moment for me and my teammates, just advancing and taking it game by game." (Can you talk about the team effort tonight?) "It was a big thing before the game with being sincere with ourselves and our teammates. Coach has been talking about that this whole tournament, just not being an individual player. I definitely think we did that." (How big of an advantage was the crowd?) "The fans came out and supported us a lot. It felt like we were playing at home all over again but we couldn't really think about the fans we had to think about playing our game and doing what coach asked us to do. I think we did that today."