Kentucky-Samford Postgame Quotes

Dec. 21, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“That was a great win for us. I thought that Samford really, really played hard and competed. I have known Mike Morris a long time, and he is a very, very good basketball coach. His team played very hard and challenged us in so many ways. I thought that we had some great moments out there tonight. We are happy to head into our Christmas break at 11-1 and with a basketball team that I think has so much potential. We will be excited about them coming back and start working on becoming a great team. Good night for us tonight.”

On his Christmas plans this year, especially with his newborn baby …
“Well, I haven’t even really thought about it to this point. The four-month old just needs food and just needs to eat, so she is too young to really get anything. And my 22-year old it is hard to buy for someone who already has everything already so I will have to figure out something for her. And then hopefully I will be around the house for a couple of days and Jenna (Mitchell) won’t yell at me too much. It will be a nice Christmas. We are just staying here in Lexington and it will actually be great to get home for a couple days and just take it easy. It is a real special time to spend with friends and family and we are looking forward to it. It will be a special Christmas, especially with Saylor’s arrival. We are looking forward to it.”

On the team’s post defense …
“I think the plan all season was for us to be improved in that area and the last two days were really productive for us from a practice standpoint because we really did try to slow things down and had not only our guards try to find post players. A lot of that is my job as a coach is try to construct a practice plan where that is an emphasis, and lot of times, we will get to running plays just to try to get it to the end of the play and the very first look a lot of times is to go into the post. Samantha (Drake) as you can see has just improved even from the first game. Now through 12 games, it has been incredible to see her improvement. I agree with what was said earlier. She was so decisive. Tonight, her first play at the high post, she caught it and ripped through and went to the bucket. Those are good signs. Samarie (Walker) is a player that is very comfortable catching the ball. As a coach, the last couple of days I have tried to say, ‘Look, let’s look there first and then as we go to the ball reversal let’s try to look there again.’ They did, Samantha and Samarie, had some nice connections tonight in particular. Those are two big, athletic players that if we can get them going it will be nice. It is nice to have some depth in the post.”

On if he has pushed the team hard in the period before Christmas break …
“We didn’t have a tremendous amount of time. We went very hard yesterday. We had two sessions yesterday and two sessions today, even on gameday we went twice. We did push them hard but we didn’t have hours and hours of work. I thought that the players really had quality work the last couple of days, coming off that disappointing loss. I thought that we were able to refocus pretty well and get going. The improvement in the post game could help us down the road.”

On how the post game opens up the rest of the offense …
“I think if Samantha (Drake) could continue to improve and I think that Samarie (Walker) is already there as somebody you might think about committing two players to guard, so double teaming. Both of those kids are pretty good passes. For a long time, that is all Sam would do is just catch it and throw it right back out. So she has had a lot of practice on passing. She is a pretty good passer out of the post. Anytime you can have post players that draw double teams that opens up a lot. Not only from kicking it out and shooting it but kicking it and then one more pass and a drive back inside or a toss back inside. An effective post game helps your tremendously. It is exciting to have some options there.”

On if he saw a light come on for Samantha Drake at some point this season …
“It was not one moment, but it started happening one day and then sort of snowballed. There was a play here and then the next day she would make two or three and you knew it was pretty dramatic. I think that Sam battled so much with just confidence and conditioning and just wondering if she could survive the practices. I think that she just spent so much time concerned with could she make sprints and could she hang on to the end of practice and that was just coming from a place of weakness. She had a terrific summer and I just tried to keep putting it to here that there is nothing that you can’t get through. I think that finally she just proved to herself that she can really perform at a high level. She has improved a tremendous amount and is very talented.”

On if they have been working on Samantha Drake and Samarie Walker playing together in the post …
“Yeah, we have. The thing that we are going to have to figure out there is how we are going to press with those two (in the game at the same time.) We have to keep it going. They are very fast and athletic but they are not as confident in the press as maybe when we go four guards. We will have to figure that out. That will be the biggest challenge defensively, what we are going to do with that group.”

On if this is where he thought his team would be at this point in the season …
“I was hoping we would. I am really, really happy. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be 11-1 with one more non-conference game. If we could find some way to beat Middle Tennessee and that will be some challenge down there that would be fantastic. We will have to work hard. But I am ecstatic right now to be 11-1.”

On the team’s schedule during the holidays …
“They will practice at 9:30 a.m. the 26th and they will be gone until then.”

Kentucky Players

#31, Samantha Drake, F

On the practices for post players...
“This week we've been working on the pick-and-roll in our game and working on looking into the post for the high-low, also working on more post chemistry.”

On what they are doing to improve the post chemistry...
“Actually seeing the post, normally we miss the post on the outside. We've been working on looking inside and how to pass inside to the post.”

On having another forward playing at the same time...
“It's a big help, I don't have to have all the pressure on me. Having another forward out there gives us another chance to have another big score inside, and work on our post game, and also having the guards passing the ball inside and going inside-out.”

#23, Samarie Walker, F/C

On the cheer from the fans as she came off the bench…
“It made me a little bit more nervous than what I already was, but it was definitely exciting.”

On how she feels she is fitting in thus far…
“I think I am fitting in pretty well, but obviously it needs a lot more work. I think the team chemistry is still good with me coming in.”

On the ‘butterflies’ as she entered the game…
“I was just really excited at first to be playing my first home game. When the crowd started cheering loud, I wasn’t expecting that. It was even more exciting but it made me a little more nervous.”

On her Christmas plans…
“I just want to eat a good home-cooked meal. I miss home-cooked meals. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family. I really love my family a lot. I’m going to see some friends from back home too. And, of course, get Coach Mitchell a gift too.”

On what she is looking forward to eating at home…
“Greens, yams, ham, turkey – whatever they cook.”

Samford Head Coach Mike Morris

Opening statement…
“Obviously, Kentucky is ranked seventh in the country for a reason and we saw that. They’re a very good team that has a tremendous style of play that you don’t see that often, but they stick to it and they are deep. They can make you look very bad and credit it to Matthew (Mitchell) – I’ve known him from when we competed in the OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) days. They are a very good basketball team that can make you look ugly with their style of play; I think they will do well in the SEC for sure. I was pleased with our team, particularly in the second half, we outscored them in the second half, we didn’t quit or give up. Obviously, we were not the favorite going in to this game so I was pleased with how we reacted when we got down. We kept fighting, didn’t give in, made a few plays and got a few stops. There are several reasons we play these kind of games and hopefully we can learn from this. A big part of why we didn’t quit is obviously our senior guard, Paige Anderson, who did an outstanding job tonight.”

On Kentucky’s depth…
“I think that’s a big element, if you are going to play that way you have to be deep. They play a lot of people, it’s fresh, it’s relentless, it’s non-stop.  We’re not a very deep team because we are a half-court team, it’s really a contrast of styles. We were a little outmanned at every position to some degree. I think that plays a major factor because they can be fresh at every position with their substitution pattern.”

On forcing 19 Kentucky turnovers …
“That’s one thing to take home about Kentucky. I think you can pressure them and turn them over like they do. Obviously Notre Dame did a little bit and I think there are certain teams in the league that can do that and give them some problems. That’s not what we do at all. I think that’s something you can bother them with, even if we were at the same level in terms of league we would still want to be in the half-court, but looking at their team at the next level, I think that’s one thing you can maybe bother them with, creating turnovers on them.”

Samford Players

#21, Paige Anderson, G

On playing a highly ranked team in a tough atmosphere…
“It’s always exciting to get the opportunity to play in a big environment. Kentucky basketball is nationally known so it’s really exciting to get to play in front of a crowd like this. We have a smaller fan base so games like this one are fun to play in and will help our team down the road.”