Kentucky-Pikeville Postgame Quotes

Nov. 6, 2014

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“It was good to get into Memorial Coliseum tonight and play and be back on that floor. We believe this is the most special place in the country to play and we love being in Memorial. I thought the players did what they were charged to do tonight. We really talked about energy and effort and playing hard. We are long way away from being a finished product, but we have worked very hard on our effort and conditioning and running the floor. So, the things that we could control tonight – I thought we did a pretty good job. I thought we had good attitudes tonight, that is going to be a key for this team. They are going to have to have great attitudes all season long. They are not going to be the most talented or biggest or maybe the most gifted, but we are going to have to have great attitudes and be really tough and really fast and up-tempo and use the gifts that we have to become a great team because I think we have that in us. Good night for us and a lot to learn from it, but we will try to do that moving forward here.”

On if he expected the team to be that good offensively …
“I didn’t know what to expect as far as what we would do. To be honest with you, I was a little concerned what it might look like offensively if it got into a half-court game. A lot of you folks have been around long enough to kind of know what we do. We have just spent so much time on our effort and our footwork and we are probably a little bit slower to develop than some teams because we are going to play with a certain tenacity and energy that you have to practice and have to get prepared to even play that way before you can start fine tuning things. I really didn’t have any expectations tonight other than to try to hold them accountable for their effort and energy. It is funny, when you are with them every day you probably judge them a little too harshly. I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I was just happy to see them run. I thought they really – no matter who the opponent is and I hope Pikeville has a great season – we just really weren’t concerned with the opponent, we were just trying to run tonight and I thought that went really well. That led to a lot of points.”

On Kyvin Goodin-Rogers’ play …
“You know, Kyvin played liked she has been practicing. She has just practiced really well. I think we hit a turning point in the summer when she finally figured out she was healthy and ready to go. She is just hungry. She wants to be good and wants to play. She has just had the best attitude that I have ever seen her have since she has been here. That was a tough deal she went through last season. She has really, really had a great attitude and a hard-working attitude. She kind of showed you her whole game tonight. She can shoot it from the outside, she is physical and fast. She took three charges. I need to email Samarie Walker over in Spain, she didn’t take three in her career here. I am really puzzled by that right now because Kyvin took three in her first game. That is a joke, I really love Samarie Walker and she did a lot for us. She just showed you her game, she can be disruptive, she can block some shots, she can run the floor. Even the foul over the back there at the end of the game was just an athletic, explosive play. You were like, ‘Whoa. Where did she come from?’ She is just that kind of player. She like all of our players, if she would just keep an outstanding attitude and a really, really humble mindset and a mindset that is geared to toward learning and getting better every day she will help us out a lot. I was happy with her effort tonight.”  

On Makayla Epps looking like a different player this season …
“Yeah, she does. That’s easy to spot, which is a compliment to her because that shows you how hard she has worked. She has worked really hard and she just looks super. Those numbers are certainly against a team she had more talent and she is more gifted than any player on their team and that is just the way it is, that is not a knock on them. I don’t even really look at the numbers, just the way she moved out there. She still has a ways to go and be able to stay focused defensively. She got back into some old habits tonight, but that will come with some reps. She is just extremely gifted and you couldn’t see it last year because she could never get into the physical condition that she is now. I think she will have some special games for us this year and she will be a real key to our success. She is a very gifted basketball player and she has had a great attitude and she has worked hard. I told them all in the locker room there, in that kind of game when the margin is like that you can have that kind of attitude, but what kind of attitude are we going to have tomorrow? What kind of attitude are we going to have early Saturday morning? We are going to go early Saturday morning and work really hard. This team, to have any chance to be what they can be, they have to have the greatest attitude possible.”

On his impressions of the defensive effort tonight …
“I liked the energy. We are out of position right now and that is just the way it is. You have to get their mentally to get up and don’t be afraid to get beat and let’s go and let’s go as hard as we can. I like that. We ran out of gas at the end of the first half and they started straight line driving us and that is what teams are going to do. There will be good film of what we did wrong. There will be a bunch of examples of the kind of aggressiveness that we need. We have to straighten out who is going to be on the ball. We have to find two that really, really want to get up there and play Kentucky defense and pressure the ball. We got one in Bria Goss and we have to find the second one. We have some candidates in Linnae (Harper), Janee (Thompson) and Jen (O’Neill). I thought Jen after Linnae had run out of gas and they were kind of getting us, I thought Jen got in there and showed she can do some stuff on the ball, I was really happy with that. We have some things we have to figure out defensively, but we have to be that energetic team. We are not a tremendously huge team. We are not going to block shots a bunch or be a great shot-blocking team against some of the best teams in the country and we don’t want to be. We want to be the best charge-taking team in the country, that will be important for us. We can be tough defensively, but they are going to have to work really hard. You saw Pikeville was able to take advantage of some things and we just finally wore them down in the second half. But when they were fresh they took us off the dribble some and laid it up some. We have to continue to work on getting better at that. I like their energy.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#0 Jennifer O’Neill, Sr., PG

On Coach Mitchell saying he wanted to start the season strong…
“I agree with what he said, we wanted to start the season right. We knew coming into this game we wanted to worry about the things that we could control, what we could do and how we could get better.”

On this year’s team being a high-scoring team…
“I think we have potential to be like we were today. But the thing that got us into the 100s was that everybody was running the floor.”

On her impression of the young players on the team…
“The fact that they were excited to play. They were more excited than they were nervous. I think that is a credit to Matthew because he told us coming into the game not worry about mistakes and he kind of let them play freely. I think that was to their benefit. I would say how excited they were to start the season off and not nervous as they could have been but they chose to flip it and change it.”

#5 Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, Soph., F

On first time playing in a real game setting…
“I was really happy to be back. It just felt great being back with my teammates.”

On if she has fully recovered…
“I think I am fully ready to be back. Those three charges actually surprised me, because I didn’t take charges in high school.  But it was something that we have been working on all week. Was just trying to do what had to be done.”

#25 Makayla Epps, Soph., G

On having more fun this year…
“Yes, last year I would get down a lot. I would make a mistake or turnover and get down a lot. This year is a new team, new season. We work so hard every day, so there is no time to be out there and be mad about anything. The best thing for me to do is smile and go on about it.”

On almost having a triple-double…
“I was completely unaware until I came off the bench and Coach (Adeniyi) Amadou was like, ‘Ah, two more rebounds.’ I was like , ‘Wow.’ I have never ever been close to 10 rebounds. But it is real motivating, even though it was UPike, they came out tonight and put 60 points on us. That’s big, regardless of the competition. Eight rebounds to me is like wow, next week against Appalachian State I am going to go for eight rebounds, eight assists or even more. I am just out here, trying to do what I can.”

Pikeville Head Coach Joanna McNamee

Opening statement…
“It is like I told our team. Playing this game was a lot better than selling concessions at the football game. That is what we did for our fundraiser. We knew we were going to come in and take a little bit of a beating. If you would have asked me before the game if we could have scored 60 on this team. I would have said not a chance. On the flipside, if you would have asked me if they were going to score 140. I would have said not a chance. There is a reason they are the eighth-best team in the country, and I think they will be higher than that when it is all said and done. They are a very unselfish team. As their opponent, I do not enjoy watching them, but they are a fun team to watch.”

On if she thought her team was going to run out of gas during the game…
“We really hoped to get a different date on this game, but once it was set we were still going to do it. It is just the way it fell. We were hoping to have this game a little earlier in the week. What this game allowed me to do was play all my kids equally. I wish one of our better kids did not get her nose broke in the first half. That was one of my big things on this back-to-back games was to get out of here with no injuries. I’m a little disappointed on that front, but we kind of ran out of gas and I was able to play everyone. That is 1 through 15 on our bench. We have a lot of Kentucky girls on our team, and they were glad that they got to play in Memorial. They were fired up to hear the band and everything. It was really an exciting time for us.”

On how this helps her team going forward…
“It helped me see when the going gets tough who folds and who continues to support each other. Character-building games like this really help me as a coach see who I can rely on and who I can depend on when the games get tough or physical. One player I had, had 10 turnovers and she could have been on the bench pouting, but she was on the bench cheering and going crazy for her teammates. Those are the kind of positives I took away. I think that we ran with them well. I realize that they picked us on the wing and got some easy baskets off our turnovers, but I don't think anyone can say that they out ran us. We were outsized and out-quicked.”

On if they were able to adjust to the pace…
“We just had to grit our teeth and hang in there. I definitely expected the pace, but I didn't expect us to have that many turnovers. That was one of the things that I was disappointed in, and they know that. We are better than that at taking care of the ball. With that being said, my point guard did not play much in the second half. Her iron went low and had a little bit of a fainting spell. Without her in the game, we got sloppy. I knew they were going to be up and down. I was a little relieved that they didn't press us the whole game, because I came in here expecting that. Their defense, deny one pass away, and how they get in the half court with pressure is really good. This is our third game of the year, but this is the first time that we have seen heat like that.”