Kentucky-Arkansas-Pine Bluff Postgame Quotes

Dec. 11, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“We wanted 40 minutes of hustle today and I thought that we were close to that. I am really proud of our players for giving a good effort and coming out and working hard today. It was a good win and completes a good week of basketball for us with three good wins. Now we will break for finals and our players really need to turn their attention full focus there. I am really, really happy we got the victory today.”

On A’dia Mathies’ status, who did not play in the game on Sunday …
“She sprained her ankle yesterday in practice, unfortunately. We had a really tough practice yesterday and it was just a bang-bang play under the basket. We are hopeful it is not too severe. We will x-ray it in the morning for precautionary reasons and the doctor feels like it is a sprain. We will just see, those are tricky and funny and you just never know how quickly a player (can recover). Sometimes a player can bounce back in a couple days and sometimes not. We just don’t know. The doctor was encouraged with what he could tell without looking at anything. Certainly, if it is major we will notify everybody.”

On the team competing well today without A’dia Mathies …
“It was a great team effort and great to see Crystal Riley back out on the court and I thought she (played well) for her first game. Crystal isn’t going to get to practice a whole lot this year because of the troubles she has had with her feet. She has done a good job of staying mentally in to practices and I thought that she did a pretty good job today. You saw a little bit of rust and she got a little happy out there shooting the ball today. But she is a good weapon for us and she can keep the tempo going and I thought that she played pretty good defense. Keyla (Snowden) stepped up like she need to because she is a good scorer and Brian Goss turned it on in the second half and had a good second half. We have some fire power and we would not want to think about a team without A’dia Mathies for very long. This is a tough game and injuries are part of it. We just have to stay focused and keep working and everybody do their part and we will be alright.”

On setting the school record with 49 turnovers forced in the game …
“Today we were really focused on our turnover margin. We had a game earlier, I can’t remember which one, where the opponent had 36 turnovers but we had 26 turnovers. Turnovers are great but really the main focus is margin. The margin today is really unbelievable. That is the players focusing on both ends. Look, our players work really hard to get in position to do that. They are fundamentally sound and I thought that today in a game where they probably could have gotten away with some things not being particularly fundamental  they had some discipline and that is when you see a 36-turnover game balloon into a 49  because we were sharp today. I am really proud of that, just very, very proud of that.”

On if he was worried about the team’s focus in this game because it is sandwiched between some big games …
“I was very worried about our focus today. We gave them Friday off so it was one day of preparation and we had some good focus yesterday. I was concerned and we tried to give them some specifics today for them to worry about. I am not a huge numbers guy, but turnover margin was one of them. I thought that had to be sharp to do what they did today and then we wanted to try to keep running and stay aggressive offensively. This team can’t afford to take a day off offensively. We are still trying to find our way there. I was concerned about that before the game and I am happy with what I saw out there.”

On what he has learned about this team during this nine-game home stretch …
“I think that throughout the nine games you saw they played hard and really mad some athletic and exciting plays. I think that it can be an exciting basketball team. With the wins over Louisville and Duke, I think that you saw the possibility of us having some quality depth. You can say you are playing 10 or 11 players, but you have to find out how many you have that can really play. I think we have the possibility to have some quality depth. We also found out that we have some really passionate fans and great fans. We had another great atmosphere here today, really good nine-game home stand for us.”

On what this week looks like from a practice standpoint …
“It’s Monday and Tuesday off. Not every single player in every single class has a final. There are some papers and other different things. They have to learn how to balance their responsibilities. That is part of life and they will have it the rest of their life. We want them to be really locked in with their academics but we are working on that all the time. We talk to them about their academic responsibilities, their basketball responsibilities and their social responsibilities. It will clearly be a week they need to lock in and do well and perform well academically. We will give them a couple days off and get right back at it because we have a huge game coming up next Sunday.”

On Samarie Walker being available vs. Notre Dame …
“She will have to complete the semester and we think she will do that. She has been practicing as a member of our team and she gets reps in game-day practice with the game prep and everything. We have included her in everything. When we take the floor on Wednesday then playing time will be up for grabs and I would say that based on what she has been doing she will have an outstanding shot to be on the floor against Notre Dame. I think that we will be a better team. She fits in well with what we do and is an absolute beast around the basket and is very strong and can rebound and finish. You have to think there would be some nerves and rust there as long as she has been out but we really tried to get her prepared and integrate her into the team. This wouldn’t be a huge shift in what we are doing. We are hoping that transition would be smooth.”

Kentucky Players

#4, Keyla Snowden, Guard, Sr.

On what they learn from a game like today’s…
“We just learn that you have to come out and play hard every single game. You can’t look past any team. We focus in practice on playing just as hard this game as we did against Louisville and Duke. We wanted to play against Arkansas-Pine Bluff with the same intensity.”

On keeping focus today knowing Notre Dame is coming up on the schedule…
“We use this game just like any other game in our past to prepare us for later games on our schedule. I think this game will definitely keep our momentum going for when we play Notre Dame.”

On Coach Mitchell stressing turnover margin…
“That was the key point of today’s game. Our defense is what we focus on so we want to be the best at turnover margin in the country.”

On missing Mathies for today’s game…
Any given night it could be any player that steps up. Mathies definitely has a big impact on our team so we are looking forward to getting her back.”

On the addition of Samarie Walker…
“I think Samarie Walker will add another threat on offense as well as her presence on defense. I think that Samarie being out there will open up opportunities for the guards because she is such a huge presence inside.  She is very aggressive, very strong, and I think she will be a positive person to our team.”

On playing No. 3 Notre Dame on the road next week…                                              
“We’re definitely looking forward to it. There might be a few nerves here or there.  You play basketball to play in big games so we’re looking forward to that.”

#13, Bria Goss, Guard, Fr.

On becoming more comfortable each game…
“We’ve played 10 games now and probably over 60 practices. I have these girls to thank because they always tell me to keep shooting or to run the floor. They always have my back so I commend my team because I feel like they have pushed me to this level.”

On how the team will look differently with Samarie (Walker) in the lineup…
“She crashes the board hard. She runs the floor hard. She was a McDonald’s All-American and those people are going to have impacts on the team. We’re going to be good with her.”

#3, Crystal Riley, Guard, Sr.

On returning to the court for the first time this season…
“I was very winded. All together it felt good. It is way better than sitting on the sideline.”

Arkansas-Pine Bluff Head Coach Cary Shelton

On what they get out of a game like this…
“Good question. We take a lot from games like this. Obviously, Kentucky is a well-coached and well-disciplined team. They really played hard and showed a lot of pressure. You’re going to face that kind of pressure in the NCAA Tournament and postseason. We face some similar pressure in our conference; it is an athletic conference with a lot of ball pressure and different press options thrown at you. Kentucky anticipates really well, they guard from head to toe, where the basketball is and everywhere else.”

On not having a home game yet…
“We have a game against Arizona at Pine Bluff next Sunday and it will be great to play at home, finally. I guess I’m blamed for the schedule, put it on me. We did it to give us a chance to build team chemistry. Maybe we should have scheduled Kentucky a little earlier. They’re really good. They beat Louisville and Duke, two really good teams. They came in and took it out on us because the men’s team lost to Indiana the other day. This was an opportunity to come in here and show what we are capable of doing. We want to be a team like Kentucky someday, be able to pressure 94 feet like they do, anticipate, switch, trap. We didn’t really handle it very well today; they got to our guards early. We have to have a short memory, bounce back and prepare for our next game.”

On his team’s goals for the game today…
“We told them we wanted to keep Kentucky under 50 points. We wanted 15 assists, 15 steals and to keep turnovers around 10. We wanted to shoot about 47 percent and to control the tempo. We got off to a late start, we made adjustments throughout the game, they have a lot of talent there, they were able to make adjustments and hit people in transition. Some of the girls for them just stepped up and made big shots. We threw everything we had at them. They play a lot better than a lot of teams defensively with their pressure.”