Kentucky-Louisville Postgame Quotes

Dec. 7, 2014

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

(Opening Statement)
“It was a really tough comeback, our team was able to make there in the second half. Louisville has a heck of a basketball team, very, very tough, very disruptive, and it took us a while to figure out what we needed to do. But I’m really proud of our players, that was surely a game they could have folded in and could have said it was not our day and lost that one, but they found a way just to keep battling and made some adjustments in their attitude at halftime and came out with what I think will be a significant victory at the end of the year because I know Louisville is going to have a great season and they have some fantastic players, they’re always well coached and this is just always a very difficult game for us. So I’m really proud of our players and we’re certainly happy to get the victory.”

(On the first half versus the second half)
“I was just so disappointed with our approach to the game. From the opening tip, we got the ball and threw a very nonchalant pass and (Jude) Schimmel stole it, laid it up, and just that type of approach to the game was kind of what loomed over the entire half. We just got outhustled, Louisville was much more energetic, we weren’t getting back in transition, it was just a very unfocused, very poor mental approach to the game, and we have to stop doing that. It’s really hurt us this season. We’ve had to come back several times now, and if you can do the things we did in the second half, I’d just like to try to have a better approach. They were getting everything in the first half. Everything was either in transition, off of an offensive board, or on the free throw line. And those are all areas where you ‘re getting outhustled. You’re not in the stance or you’re fouling, you’re not boxing out so they’re offensive rebounding, you’re not hustling back, so they’re laying the ball up in transition. So there’s no in-between with our team. We have to play like our hair is on fire all the time because we’re not going to out talent you, but we can try to be a little bit tougher and we can try to be disruptive on defense, and we can play some up-tempo basketball. So when we approach the game from a nonchalant point of view, we don’t look very good as you all witnessed in the first half.”

(On if there is a common thread between the comebacks against Louisville in the past three seasons)
“Well the one common thread is that Louisville is extremely disruptive because they switch a lot of screens, and so you have to be focused mentally and see where that is. So sometimes you have to go quick to exploit the mismatch, sometimes you have to have patience, and our team really struggles at this particular time of the year. I guess I’m not a very good teacher and too methodical, because every year the last three years we’ve gotten down double digits, and I thin it’s a credit to Louisville because their defense confuses us. And we play in a hurry and we don’t see where our advantages are, and so as the game wore on and we were able just to hang in there, our guards started doing a fantastic job of just being more patient, and you saw us, we started getting to the bucket and laying the ball up. In the first half, I think the deficits have been because we don’t read their defense very well. It’s very disruptive and it’s very tough, and it’s a tough code to crack, and I think that’s the one common thread in the last three when we’ve had these large deficits we’ve had to overcome.”

(On if this comeback was the most impressive of the three against Louisville)
“At this point in time, I have a hard time putting this game in a historical perspective. I’m just saying for this particular team, we are not very cohesive right now and we’re not playing great basketball, and so it is an unbelievable victory from the standpoint of that we’re just able to get it through toughness and just hanging in there and resilience. So for our team to be able to win the way we’re playing right now is fantastic, and I’m so proud of them, because I think our ceiling is high. I think we’ve got a lot to get better. I think some of the kids who aren’t playing are going to be playing as the season wears on. So it was an incredible victory, and I’m very, very happy for our players and so happy that we were able to get it together. You don’t want to lose at Kentucky. Our formula is to play harder than the other team, and when we don’t play harder, that is just unacceptable. And that’s what happened in the first half, and so thank goodness we got together and played, what I thought was we played with some effort and some energy and we played hard in the second half. So it’s a great win.”

(On what it means to beat Louisville four years in a row)
“It just means something for this team right now. This team needs to improve, we need to get better. We’re very, very happy to win as we’re moving along in this process. So what it’s going to mean this year, is Louisville’s going to have a great year, they’re a great team, they’re well coached, they have a very talented team, and they’re going to win a boatload of basketball games. So the win’s going to be significant at the end of the year if we can improve and take care of our business and progress to be an NCAA tournament team, which we need to work hard to get that done. This will be a big win for this particular team.”                           

(On if winning games in comeback fashion against Louisville in the past helped the players today)
“I don’t know if they can remember five minutes ago. So I’m not sure that that was in their mind.  You’ll have to ask the players that. I don’t know. That may have helped them. My point to them at halftime was that, if we could just somehow hustle back and not let them lay the ball up in transition, and we would actually guard them, because the times we were able to guard them in the first half we had some success we did some good things. We turned them over 13 times by halftime, and that was with not as much effort as we had, so then you get 15 in the second half with some more energy. We did not feel like we were out of it by halftime, by any shape or form. I thought if we could just get stops, get our defense set, make some buckets, we shot 34 percent or whatever at halftime, you have to start making some buckets and we did that, but I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the players if coming back in the past has helped them out. I do think that this particular team has had several comebacks this year, so they probably felt like, ‘Hey, we can get this done if we can turn it around.’”

(On point guard Janee Thompson)
“One thing that I’m really proud of is the person that she is two years later. She’s just really, really worked hard to become a better leader and a more focused basketball player, a more focused student, and just a better person. So her progress is something I’m very proud that she has taken it upon herself to benefit from all the support she’s gotten from the program, and she’s made some great decision there. She’s a very different player two years later. She was fantastic. As I was reflecting this morning and trying to mentally prepare for the game, I was thinking to myself, you know, Janee is not played anywhere close to what she’s capable of this season. She’s had some good moments, but she’s struggled shooting the ball at times. But boy, did she have a great second half. That three that tied it, because it looked like maybe the momentum was starting to swing back to Louisville, so just a tremendous performance. I’m really proud and happy for her, because she’s worked extremely hard to have that kind of performance.”

(On the moment center Azia Bishop fouled out)
“I don’t think you can review it. I was just upset. I just tried to calm down and I’ve been telling, I try to tell the players to keep their poise. Jennifer O’Neill reminds me that I don’t do a great job of keeping mine, so I need to stop being a hypocrite, so I was just trying to compose myself a little bit because I disagreed with the call. It happens from time to time, but I couldn’t ask for a review. I was just trying to calm every one down, myself included, and figure out who we were going to bring in because it was her fifth foul.”

(On playing five guard due to foul trouble)
We had to have people that had some confidence in themselves at the time, and could fight a little bit. Jenn (O’Neill) and (Linnae) Harper are not real big people, as far as tall, but they’re both very strong and when the game’s on the line they’re tough. We just had to do it with who we had available, because our post players were fouling out right and left. It helped us, too, when we got the lead we could switch things out and try to slow Louisville down a little bit. Whatever it takes right now, we’ve got to try to get victories. This is a huge week for our basketball team because we’re going to get three straight days where we can practice and we need to take some steps forward. I thought the players got better with three practices last week, we need to do it again this week. It’s very important that we progress because we need to get better.”

(On the significance of the win)
“I think it’s a great win for us, because Louisville is a quality team, a quality program, and well-coached, and have very good players. We’re very proud that we could come into a very good team’s building and win a game. That’s what it means. It’s great win for these players because they had to fight for it, they had to dig down deep and find a way. I’m just so proud of our players and so appreciative of their effort, and not giving up and not giving in. It’s about this team, this year, winning this game. I’m really proud of them.”

(On Louisville as a program)
“I think Louisville has a fantastic basketball program. I think they’re well-coached, I think they have very good players. They’ve done a great job here and have had great success, and I congratulate them for that. I’m real proud our players worked hard enough to win the game today.”

(On having to battle back in the second half of several games)
“I didn’t do this team any favors with the schedule. We’ve had a very, very difficult schedule. I can be upset with them if I want to about lack of execution and kind of being uneven, but we haven’t had an easy road. That’s on me. You schedule these things two and three years out, and for this particular team, it may have been better for us to be more cohesive and look prettier right now if we had been able to practice some. It is what it is. We’ve found some kind of way, I don’t know how, but we’ve found some kind of way to be 8-1 against a real, real difficult schedule. We’ll get it together. This team has a tremendous upside if they’ll come in and practice really hard every day, believe in themselves, believe in the system, and believe in what we need to do to be successful, we’ll have an outstanding season. But we’ll get it together, we’ll get more consistent. I believe that we will. I believe the players want to be more consistent, and so just tickled to death that they were able to find a way today, in real difficult circumstances, but we’ll get better.”