Kentucky-Notre Dame Postgame Quotes

Nov. 21, 2010

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening statement
“Proud is really not sufficient to say how I feel about our players today. It was just a really hard-fought game and we tried to make it about effort and hustle, because we’re just not the best at executing right now. We were hoping we could just hustle and give great effort and the players did that clearly. It’s a big win for those players. They worked extremely hard this week, and I’m real proud of them.”

On viewing this game as a statement game
“I thought this game was good for both teams. This early in the season, I don’t think anyone is making statements two weeks into the season. Notre Dame clearly has some talented players and a good basketball team and we were fortunate to win. We are just happy that we could get better this week and the players could be rewarded with a win.”

On taking advantage of the 19-2 run in the first half …
“We were really trying to get the tempo fast there and we went down seven or nine, I believe, and we didn’t want to call a timeout. We wanted to keep playing, and I was very happy that we were able to weather that storm and the run did help us. We didn’t protect the lead as well the last couple minutes, but we just wanted to come out on top at the final buzzer. So a six-point lead at halftime was good. We had 41 at halftime, and that is where we wanted to be with the pace of the game. Our goal today was 82, I think we got 81, but they thought we could win if we scored 82 points.”

On Victoria Dunlap’s play …
“It was good. I’m glad we had her. I don’t know what we would’ve won without her. We were absolutely destroyed on the boards, and it looked like to me that the important ones we did get. It was Victoria going to work. She showed up big in a big-time game and that’s a high level to play at in the early part of the season. That’s two teams that have aspirations of being on the national scene, so in a big-time game and Victoria played like a big-time player.”

On Victoria playing almost the entire game …
“Thirty-eight minutes is tough, especially with the pace we are asking them to play. I think it’s pretty remarkable shape that the kids are in and Victoria playing 38 minutes and being productive is a real remarkable thing from a conditioning standpoint. She made some big free throws and we’re just happy she played so well.”

On A’dia Mathies’ play  and her steal late in the game …
“I think you are going to have times where you come out and it doesn’t go that great for you offensively and A’dia can’t get tied up with that being her identity. That is why I put her on (Skylar) Diggins at the end of the game. I have as much confidence in A’dia Mathies as I do with anybody. I don’t worry about her points scored, but that was a big-time play because Diggins was on fire at the point. We were having trouble with keeping her in front of us, so I put A’dia on her and that steal was a big-time play in the game.”

On shooting poorly from the three-point line in the first half, but better in the second half …
“We can’t shy away from the three-point line. We’re so small and that’s an equalizer for us. We get crushed on the boards today, but the equalizers were the free-throw line, the three-point line and turnovers. I want us to become a better rebounding team; it looked like they were playing a tip drill in there a few times. We have to shoot the three, we have great three-point shooters and they shot well today.”

On today’s crowd …
The crowd was great. We asked them to get behind us and they responded well. The atmosphere was electric, and to me it’s the most special place to play a game in women’s college basketball with all the history. I thank everybody for coming out and supporting us.”

On Maegan Conwright’s play …
“She is a very, very gifted athlete, and a tenacious defender. I felt very good about putting her on Skylar Diggins. She (Diggins) is an All-American level player and I thought Maegan hustled and played all game long. But she is only scratching the surface with how good she can be, and I’m really proud of her and our team. It was a team victory today.”

Kentucky Players

# 4 Keyla Snowden Jr., G

On her impact on the game …
“I think UK won the game for UK. I don’t think one player won the game for UK. I think I did something that helped us win, but we all contributed to the game. It felt good to get hot for once. I am a shooter, and that’s what I bring to this team so it felt good to hit some shots in the second half.”

On getting a win over a quality team like Notre Dame …
“It shows that we have worked hard. In the practices in the summer, in the pre-season we worked hard. Every day we try to take advantage of our fundamentals and take advantage of how we come out. Last year was not a fluke. Every day we are trying to prove that and just keep improving on our legacy. “

On if she thought her shot would ever fall in the first half …
“As a shooter, you just have to stay confident and keep shooting. Whether you are 0-for or not, you just keep shooting. That is just something a shooter has to do. You have to have that confidence. You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take, so you just have to keep shooting."

On her relationship with Notre Dame’s Natalie Novose l…
“It was fun seeing a familiar face from high school. We played together for a long time. She definitely is a great player, and she has developed her game very well. It was really good to see her out there.”

#34 Victoria Dunlap Sr., F

On if the pace of the game bothered Notre Dame…
“I think the pace bothered Notre Dame. I think we got to them a little bit late in the second half. That’s just how we play. Coach Mitchell told us that no matter what, even if they score, just get it and go. That kind of got our momentum going in the game.”

On if they are ever tired during the game…
“We run a lot in practice. That’s how we get better. We just practice the way we play. Once we get out on the court, we aren’t tired until the game is over. We are just going to keep running and gunning like always.”

On if she is ever tired at any point during the game…
“I’m good. I think I could go another game or two right now. I think I got my mindset this week during practice when I knew Samantha (Drake) wasn’t playing. I was telling the coaches in practice this week that if I looked tired to not let me come out of the drill. I knew that I would have to contribute minutes for our team, and I think I did that.”

On the intensity she brings to the game…
“That’s just how I play. I just go out there, give it my all and help my teammates. The outcome was a win, so it’s good.”

On if this game is a statement win for Kentucky…
“I think so. Notre Dame is a great team. They have a great program. Just for people to see that we actually can play with a team of that caliber says a lot. Even though we may not have as much hype as them as a program, we still think we have the capability of going out on the court, being ingressive  and knowing what to do in big games.”

#10 Bernisha Pinkett Fr., G

On her role on the team …
“My role is to bring energy, play defense, shoot, go to the paint and just play hard.”

On having to come out of the game at times …
“This is a team, so I didn’t mind going on the bench and letting my teammates take over. I don’t want to let my teammates down just because I’m tired.”

On if banking in that crucial three-pointer …
“It was a good shooting night. I have been practicing my threes all morning and all week, so it wasn’t a surprise to me. When that shot went in, I was going crazy in my head, but I knew I had to go back and play defense.”

Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw

Opening statement…
“I can see how Victoria Dunlap is the player of the year in the SEC, she’s really a phenomenal player. I mean, just both ends of the floor, she’s a shot-blocking defensive player who works hard. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a kid work as hard as she did. Really, just a great game today for her. Probably a normal day at the office for her but I was really impressed by her game and her poise and everything. But honestly, I guess I really thought that (Keyla Snowden) won the game for them. I thought the threes that she hit were unforgivable defensively for us. They were huge shots when we were trying to guard her. I really thought if we could have guarded her we could have won the game. Offensively for us, Natalie Novosel had a career-high tonight. We played like the young team that we are, at times, but I also was proud of the way we battled.”

On if she felt the game would have gone differently had Notre Dame been able to grab the lead in the second half…
“I think that’s maybe when some of the threes happened. We just got in such foul trouble. I mean right off the bat, losing (Devereaux Peters), I think she played three minutes in the first half. I mean, she’s our best rebounder. You could see in the second half we really killed them on the boards with our starters in there. So that was disappointing. I think we just gave them so many chances to score from the foul line so that’s something we need to work on. You know, I think when you get the lead the momentum can change.”

On Kentucky taking advantage when Skylar (Diggins) was on the bench…
“Without Brittany (Mallory) we were a man-down to start and then with the foul trouble we were deep into the bench. I thought Kaila Turner really responded well and I thought she did a really nice job for us, took care of the ball and that was a big shot she hit at the half. Really, I thought it was the defense. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times. We missed some easy shots, but certainly when you have two of your better players on the bench that’s the way the game is. Somebody’s got to step up and really take advantage of that and that’s when we needed somebody else to step up.”

On Kentucky getting hot from 3-point range after a slow start from beyond the arc…
“Well, it was probably my fault because when I looked at the halftime stats I said, ‘I hope they keep shooting threes.’ I thought that would be to our advantage in the zone. That was great coaching there. They really just made – I mean (Keyla Snowden), I don’t know if she made any in the first half, she had at least four in the second half. But that was really just poor on our part that we didn’t identify where she was.”

Notre Dame Players

#4, Skylar Diggins, So., Guard

On taking the ball to the basket more in the second half and if they should have been doing that more throughout the game…
“Definitely. I mean, they were getting to the basket and forcing the ref’s hand and we were sometimes settling for outside shots. When we started attacking and started getting offensive rebounds, we got more layups and more fouls toward the end of the game. Really wish we would have gone to that earlier. But desperate times call for desperate measures. We were trying to get to the basket, trying to cut the game down, really trying to attack because it was the end of the game.”

On Kentucky’s defense…
“I mean, Kentucky is probably one of the top teams in the country that will get up in your face for 40 minutes. Their guards are so quick and they definitely force a lot of pressure and me just not taking care of the ball and a little bit of their pressure, too. They were causing turnovers and I don’t think we were doing that enough to them, trying to match that. But definitely with (Victoria) Dunlap up top on the ball that causes a lot of trouble with them face guarding. I mean, us having to work to get open every time and work to get it up the court, I mean they just have great on-ball defenders. I think we did alright handling the pressure besides the stupid turnovers. But definitely Kentucky is a team that’s a great defensive team.”

#21, Natalie Novosel, Jr., Guard

On the feeling of coming home with a career-high…
“I think I would have rather had zero points and the win. It was nice to have the whole crowd sell out for us, it was awesome playing in front of them. It was a good challenge for us. It will get us ready for games coming up.”

On her hot start to the game…
“I was excited to play in front of my hometown. I just went at it. I tried to keep the intensity but they were able to match me and other people were trying to step up. It was just partly anxiety and a little excitement.”