Kentucky-Morehead St. Postgame Quotes

Nov. 12, 2010

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“We are thrilled to kick the season off with a victory. We had a lot of young players out there for us today and they had to make major contributions. It was not a masterpiece by any means, but we are proud to get a victory. There is a lot as a coach that you sit there and see that you are not doing well and things that you can do better. But I think that everybody is always keyed up for that first game of the year. It is good to come out and win today and finally get some energy going there in the second half. I am happy for the players because they played awfully hard there today. Happy to win.”

On Keyla Snowden’s status after leaving the game in the first half with an injury …
“It is a little too early to tell. It doesn’t look terrible but we don’t really know. We will just have to wait until tomorrow and I just hesitate to give you any more information than that so we can see if it swells tomorrow. We are feeling OK about it right now but we just don’t know yet.”

On if them being a top-ranked team now instead of being under the radar and if that had anything to do with the slow first half …
“I certainly understand that train of thought and that line of thinking, however I don’t think that had anything to do with how we played in the first half. The first half, we had very poor point guard play. I don’t think it was because the point guards weren’t trying, I just think that it is the first game and you are trying to go out there and execute plays and do what the coach tells you to do but you are a little timid. The post was just wide open and we don’t have to run the play. We are so busy as coaches trying to put in all the options of the play that we sometimes forget the simple option. That to me was it. I don’t think that it was anything else but very poor execution offensively. We get in at halftime and talk about that and that is what you have to do as a coach, you have to help them because nobody wants it to be 27-20, we all want it to be 50-20. So you have to lift them up and encourage them and tell that here is why we are not being successful. That is what I thought it was more of.”

On Victoria Dunlap’s play and if she was a little too “keyed” up …
“Yeah, I thought that she was off today. I don’t think that she had a great day. She kept working her way through it. Whenever she can get those steals there at half court in our half court defense that gives me a clue that she is keyed in and doing what she needs to do. I just thought that she missed some easy shots today. It was the first game so I thought she ended up with a good stat line. She was doing other things and that is Victoria. There are going to be nights where she goes for 28 or 30 because she is going to make some of those easy shots that she missed. You look at her being 10-for-12 from the free throw line and that tells you that she was into it mentally. She just had some missed shots.”

On what he learned about the point guard situation …
“Well, you know what I didn’t do in this game because I thought that we needed some experience. I don’t want to be overly critical of the point guards because I know that they are trying hard. They are both inexperienced from the role they are trying to play. I did not move A’dia (Mathies) over there. I think that might be something we look at, but I think it is too soon to do that right now. I learned that we are a little too much into trying to run all the options instead of just going for the simple open player. I thought that Meagan (Conwright) did that some in the second half, so that pleased me. I thought that she got better as the game progressed. She is an awfully talented player and missed some open layups that I think she will make. I want Crystal (Riley) to play better certainly.”

On if the defense and pressure will take them while he waits on better point guard play  …
“I think that is going to have to be something that we need to be able to do. We are running a bunch of players in and out of there so that is sort of a double-edged sword. As a coach, you worry that there might not be much offensive cohesion but then you start seeing the second half and I hope that a pattern is developing. In some games it is going to be a big margin like that but other games you may be down seven or eight and you can wear them down and push through a three- or four-point victory. That is sort of the thought process. That is where I have to have discipline as a coach to really try to stay as clam as I can while trying to get them to play with some intensity. That is something that we need to have our mind on developing.”

On how important it is for the defense to start the offense …
“That helps a lot. It kind of gets you where you can extend the lead. I thought the offense was better when we were able to get Victoria (Dunlap) and Brittany Henderson and Samantha (Drake) involved inside. I thought that is when it started clicking. Obviously, when you are creating steals and then laying it up and get back in the press again that is discouraging to the other team. It helps a lot when you can just lay it up and you don’t have to worry about throwing it into the post and missing the post and then your point guard didn’t do what she is supposed to.”

On if he was pleased with the performance of the freshmen …
“Yeah, I think that was a product of a lot of our mistakes in the first half. There is a very simple continuity offense that we run and Kastine Evans is one of the smartest players that we have and is practicing very hard. I know that if you brought her in here right now in front of you all and had her diagram the play she would know it. She was just frozen over on the wing and it bogged the offense down. I attribute it to being their first college basketball game. Morehead State was very prepared and did a fantastic job sprinkling in some zone defense and keeping us off balance in the first half. I will tip my hat to Morehead State because I thought that they were ready to play.”

#1 A’dia Mathies, So., G

On the main difference between the first and second half …
“I think the second half we went back to our defensive fundamentals. We really pressured the ball and denied the ball like we should have done in the first half. In the second half we really turned it around and stepped it up.”

On Tom Hodges’ suit selection …
“When he first came out I thought it was like the halftime performance or something. And then I realized it was their coach. ”

#34 Victoria Dunlap, Sr., F

If there are still first-game nerves for seniors …
“I don’t know about nerves, but I guess you could just say that it is our last first game ever. I think as a whole we came out as a team and didn’t have a lot of energy. We weren’t talking and we weren’t playing defense. We really picked all of that up in the second half so that helped.”

On the defense pushing them through the first half of the season …
“That is the number one thing when we approach the game is our defense. We have to pressure the ball and get up in their face and deny while knowing where everybody is on the court. Once we get into more games and get up to game speed, we will get enough pressure to get people to turn the ball over.”

On Tom Hodges’ suit selection …
“When I first saw it I was like ‘wow!’ It was colorful though, it was sharp. The pants and the shoes were nice, too.”

#20 Maegan Conwright G, Fr.

On what it felt to play her first game …
“I was so nervous. I was really, really nervous. But, when I got out there it felt like practice. When I got out there I was fine.”

On what her thought process was when she approached Coach Mitchell about playing point guard …
“I wasn’t nervous because I played it a little bit in high school. I just go out there and do what they tell me to do and go where they tell me to go. I wasn’t trying to be like Michael Jordan, I just was going out there and doing what he (Coach Mitchell) told me to do.”

Morehead State Head Coach Tom Hodges

Opening statement…
“Obviously Kentucky is a top 10 team in the country for good reason. Their defensive tenacity and intensity, especially in the second half was really the difference in the game – getting out and forcing us into some awkward decisions and bad spots within our offense. I was proud of our team. I thought we fought to the very end. I thought we did some positive things in the first half and in the second half we can take our positives and learn from our negatives.”

On what makes Kentucky so good defensively…
“Well, it looked like there were eight of them out there a couple times, maybe even nine or 10. I tell you, there are so many things. The first thing you see when you turn on film, and film is not an adequate portrayal per se, but their tenacity and how hard they play. They play unbelievably hard every possession. Every pass within your offense is pressured. Everything that you could possibly imagine, every dribble, every time you bounce the ball there’s going to be a hand in there to harass it, to throw your timing off. So I would say, just their effort level and their defensive tenacity is what sets them apart from just about everybody else in the country.”

On the positives he can take out of this game…
“We felt like in the first half we gave ourselves a great chance, and that’s what we talked about coming into the game. We just want to give ourselves a chance going into half and then a chance going into that last media timeout in the game. So obviously we felt like we did an adequate enough job in our zone. I thought that looked well in the first half. We weren’t able to get out and press and do some things we would typically do just because of their athleticism. I would say we were very scrappy in the first half, outrebounded them there, and then our overall fight. What one thing we’ve been talking about day-to-day is winning every day. We’ve got to win every day. I loved that we fought for those last couple rebounds. I loved that we were sprinting down the floor for those last couple buckets. I loved that our bench was in it even when the game got a little out of hand there. So, there are definitely a lot of positives to take from this game. Some of the negatives we’ll learn from and use as a tool, and we’ll get ready and flush it and go to Notre Dame.”