Kentucky-Tennessee Tech Postgame Quotes

Dec. 7, 2010

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“Well, we are happy to win tonight. I thought that we had some good moments in the game and we were able to get some young players a lot of minutes tonight and that will help us in the future and help us improve. That is a good way to bounce back and come in and get some effort tonight and play. We are hopeful that this game will help us improve.”

On Victoria Dunlap
 “I think that right now, as we are still forming as a team here seven games into the season, clearly we need to make some improvements and Victoria is going to have to insert herself over the amount of minutes that she gets where possibly in the past, there was enough experience on the floor where she might could get her work done and get the game in control and mentally check out. But she just can’t do that and you saw that at the end of the first half. Thank goodness she got off to a great start, and then a lull and you saw what happened to us. But she reasserted herself and we got control of the game again. It is a work in progress here and Victoria is going to have to shoulder a heavy load but she can do it.”

On what he is doing with the bench players to get them up to speed …
“I think that it’s going to be important here before we break for Christmas, where we can really try to get some work in with some of our freshmen. The development is just so slow right now and as anybody that is watching the game can see we are depending on some of those kids to play. They started off pretty strong and have now hit a lull so we just have to keep working with them. There is no other option here but for them to improve if we want to be anywhere close to the kind of team we think we can be and we can. The coaches are going to have to get these players in a position where they can improve.”

On Jennifer O’Neill’s play …
“In difficult times you never know when opportunity is going to present itself. When you have a situation like what happened Sunday, it really cleans the slate for everyone. It is really fortunate for Jennifer because she had been doing a little bit better in practice, probably not enough to overcome the players that were playing well. But then you have an all-out systems failure on Sunday and the slate gets cleaned yesterday’s practice was all about competition and if you didn’t hustle tonight you were going to come out of the game and the first two options at point guard weren’t hustling so she got a shot. We had been telling Jennifer that practice is the key here at Kentucky and she has not taken us very seriously up until the last week and a half or so. You can still see that she is not where she needs to be but at least she got on the floor tonight. That is good for her. She is so much better than what she has shown up to this point and it would really help our team if she would get with the program here and get going. Hopefully tonight will get her going.”

On if he is pleased with how the team has responded the last two days …
“I was very, very pleased. We really gave them no option on that. That was a bad loss for us on Sunday. We were devastated emotionally and you start to think about all the implications.  You lose to your rival, you get kicked by your rival. It is a bad thing. If you get caught up in all of that stuff, you miss the point and opportunity to get better. We have been telling them that if you don’t play with effort you are going to get kicked and they didn’t listen. Sunday, you have to turn it into a great opportunity for the team. Put aside all the emotion and all the disappointment and the fact is that as you put the video in it was not anything (but hustle). I keep thinking in that game that it was something strategic, something technical, they were not executing but we just didn’t show up and play hard. That is unacceptable here at Kentucky but it happened and it happened on Sunday. The first thing that we talked about was effort and I thought that we did a better job of that tonight, certainly in the first 16 minutes of the first half but then we had another little lull there and you see how bad we can be. I was pleased with how they practiced yesterday, very pleased. Then happy we could have this outcome here tonight because Tennessee Tech had that 12-0 run and you can see if we don’t play hard they had a great chance to win the game. I’m glad they bounced back and got the win.”

Kentucky Players

#34 Victoria Dunlap Sr., Forward

On when she went down in the second half…
“Yeah, it was just a cramp. It was just a big cramp up my leg.”

The importance of a win like this…
“It was pretty important, especially considering Sunday’s game in Louisville. We were able to come out and start off strong. Coach was looking for players to step, so I took it upon myself to step up and help my teammates out. It was a great start for us to get the game going.”

On if her role on this team is to be the leader…
“I think so. Coach (Mitchell) looks at me as a leader, and I look at myself as a leader, too. Just for me to come out in the game with intensity and the momentum of the game is a pretty big thing for our team.”

On if she embraces a leadership role…
“It is a great challenge for me just to become a better person and a better leader for my teammates. My coaches believe in me, and I believe in myself. Once you put your mind to it, and you tell yourself ‘I am the leader’ than you have to do it, and you can’t let down.”

On if the Louisville game was an eye-opener…
“Most definitely. I think it opened our eyes. We had to come out no matter what tonight and give a lot of effort and a lot of intensity. Any day that we don’t come out, and we don’t give intensity, we are going to get beat.”

#5 Carly Morrow Sr., Guard

On Coach Mitchell sending a message after the Louisville loss…
“Coach has been sending a message ever since the game ended in Louisville. It has been uncomfortable the past 48 hours or so. It is well deserved by us. Anything he threw at us these past 48 hours was well deserved. We did not play the way we needed to play on Sunday, and so we used that as motivation for tonight’s game. We needed to play the way we want Kentucky basketball to be known.”

On what it was like to watch the Louisville game film…
“ It was very uncomfortable. It was frustrating to see the lack of effort we had. You wanted them to stop the film. But, the only way we were going to learn was to see it on film, and looking at our emotions was uncomfortable. (Coach Mitchell) just looked at the facts. And the facts were that we did not play hard, we did not play defense. I don’t think we ran an offense once. And from the bench, to the people on the court, there was no energy.”

On returning home to Chattanooga…
“I’m really excited to go back home. I don’t get to go home very often. So just to get back to where I’m from is always a very exciting feeling. (It will be fun) to play against a program like Tennessee-Chattanooga which I have a lot of respect for. I grew up going to (Tennessee-Chattanooga’s) games, and attending all of their camps. I’m just really excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun being in front of a lot of family and friends, and seeing a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while.”

#1 A'dia Mathies So., Guard

On the importance of Victoria Dunlap to this team…
“We really weren’t making any shots, and she just came in and we really needed her to come in and give us that spark. You know, as a player, when we are down, she is always going to bring us together and give us a pep talk.  I think the fact that she was able to produce really showed a lot about her.”

On what Coach Mitchell was talking about in the timeout…
“He probably was getting on us about not playing aggressive. With about 10 minutes to go, we got even more aggressive and picked up the intensity (on defense). I think once we get one steal, it fuels us and we get more.”

On what changes she saw out of the team in the second half…
“I think just being more ingressive was the biggest thing. A lot of shots weren’t going down (in the first half) the shots were going in and out, and there was a lot of contact. In the first half, I don’t think I was being strong enough going up to the basket. (In the second half) I made a couple of open shots and that really boosted my confidence. I tried to be a little bit more ingressive.”

Tennessee Tech Head Coach Sytia Messer

Opening statement…
“My initial thoughts are the 29 turnovers and the 20 offensive rebounds. That is pretty hard to overcome. I feel like we played hard for 27 minutes and then there at the end they just outmatched us and you have to give (Victoria) Dunlap credit, that’s why she’s SEC Player of the Year with 30 points.”

On the difficulty of matching up against Victoria Dunlap…
“It’s very difficult to match up to her. Whenever she has six offensive boards, that’s pretty difficult to guard, and I think that’s her number one strength. If someone’s missing it she’s going and she’s following the shot. That is just her. You can’t teach that as a coach. She has a lot of heart.”

On her feelings going into the halftime break…
“We did (feel good). We felt good but we knew that the second half would be tough. We knew that Kentucky was going to come out and battle in the second half. We just had to step up and make shots that we were supposed to make. We knew that Dunlap was going to take over and we said that at the beginning of the second half and the ball went right into her hands and she scored.”

On the difficulties that arose when junior guard Tacarra Hayes fouled out…
“With Tacarra fouling out that was tough for us. We have a young team, still have no seniors, and having the opportunity to come here and play Kentucky in this environment, I think it was great for our team.”

On Kentucky’s numbers on the offensive glass…
“I was hesitating on whether to play zone just because of our rebounding out of the zone. That’s exactly what (Kentucky) did, they had 20 offensive rebounds. We just have to battle. That’s the toughness, and again, we’re young, we have no seniors. Putting them in this environment and seeing the way Dunlap goes to the offensive board I think is going to be a good test for our team when it comes to OVC play.”

On their overall game tonight…
“We won two road games last season, and now we’re 3-1 on the road. So I’m proud of my team for the way they’ve stepped up on the road. Tonight we played hard for 27 minutes as I mentioned. We just have to get better. We have to learn how to finish and I think this feeling, our kids don’t want to feel this again. So I think it’s going to help us down the road.”