Kentucky-Duke Postgame Quotes
Dec. 22, 2013
Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
COACH MITCHELL: Well, we want to thank all our fans for coming out today. What a special atmosphere it was in Rupp Arena, and it was really, really tremendous. Just want to give a lot of credit to Duke. They have a really good basketball team, and they played really hard and they played really smart. Made winning plays, and just outworked us there today. I think that's what happens in games with two really good teams going at it. Just the team that works harder, not that our team didn't work hard, I just think Duke worked harder. So you give them credit, and they really did a nice job.
We will try to regroup and see if we can learn from whatever mistakes we made, learn from them and move forward as a team. But still know we have a really good basketball team. Hate we didn't get the win today, but you have to credit Duke for that.
Q. I understand you're not an excuse guy, but it would seem like with the match-ups, if you ever needed (DeNesha) Stallworth today, it was it with her height.
COACH MITCHELL: You can talk about that all you want to. It's not anything. We won't know unless we play them again and DeNesha is in the game. So it's just not valuable in my mind to talk about it. We had some stretches in the game where you saw we could make plays and function. So I don't think that was a factor in the game because she wasn't available. So it was Duke's players versus our players, and we did not get the job done.
Q. Can you talk about the impact free throws had today?
COACH MITCHELL: Well, it wasn't good. You lose by eight and you missed 11, so you had a chance there that you let get by. So I would say that's a fair statement to say it was an impact in the game. We haven't shot free throws great this year. We need to do better at that. Really, really bit us today.
Q. Coach, what do you think of your transition defense?
COACH MITCHELL: I thought it was poor. I thought that we didn't communicate well. That is the coach's fault. That's a direct result of practice and what they're doing in practice. So we'll take the blame for that one. We didn't have our players in good position to transition defense. Again, Duke outworked us there. Just ran by us a few times. So as a coach you need to have your team prepared much better than we were prepared today, so I feel bad for our players that I didn't have them any better prepared.
Q. You were down six with a minute to go and you opted not to foul; could you discuss that strategy a little bit?
COACH MITCHELL: Yeah, there was a minute to go, we were trying to get a trap, and a turnover. They were guarding the 3-point line really, really hard and letting you drive the basket. So 3-pointers were going to be hard to come by. They had turned it over several times. I thought we had them maybe sped up a little bit, and, again, just a real crucial break down where we didn't do what we needed to do, and that goes back to the coach not having the players prepared.
We really needed to scramble harder. Then you get down to about ten seconds on the clock and you just try to play it out and see if you can get something there. But we needed something to happen early in that possession. They were 15 of 18 too. They're such good foul shooters. Statistically, you look at them and they're really good foul shooters. So I thought we probably had a better chance of turning them over and getting the steal than turning it into a free-throw contest, because they're really good at that.
If you'd had somebody that was shooting it poorly like a couple of our kids were, maybe you would have gone with that strategy. I just thought we'd have a better chance of turning them over than playing a possession game.
Q. In the first half they had a 10 rebound advantage on you. You did a better job on the boards in the second half. But what was the key in the first half? That seemed a big difference.
COACH MITCHELL: Yeah, just thought they really worked hard and outworked us. That's what rebounding is. Especially when you are needing to rely on technique and box outs and things like that. We just didn't do a good enough job on that. But I do think we made some progress in that area this week. We really practiced hard. Coming into the game, it was a big, big concern that I had because they're such a good rebounding team.
But I think we got better this week rebounding. I think we found something that was going to allow us to get better. So, I'm encouraged by that. I think you'll see some improvement in our rebounding in the coming games.
Q. Obviously, when you guys came up with the idea to pack the house, I'm sure you hoped you would do it. But what was it like to actually be there to see it and the atmosphere of the crowd, especially at the times they tried to pick you up when you fell behind?
COACH MITCHELL: It was really remarkable. If you've been around here as long as I have and been in the league as long as I have and you know you've really got good perspective on what today meant. I don't want to beat ourselves up too much. We lost to a good team. They're a really excellent basketball team. But, gosh, I sure wanted to reward that great crowd with a victory.
I think they know what our program is about. I think they know what our kids are about and how hard we'll work. I think you'll see more days like this in the future. But it was a remarkable thing for me. I really tried to put it out of my mind, but I couldn't help it there right before tipoff. It was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to see where it had started and where it's culminated. We need more days like this.
I can't leave that topic without really thanking Lee Todd, Mitch Barnhart, and Mickie DeMoss. They were the three visionaries that really led to this happening today. Without those three people, none of us would be here with that.
So it was really, really special. From the bottom of my heart, I'm so appreciative and thank those fans.
Joanne (P. McAullie) was really complimentary and thankful before the game and after the game. She recognizes how big that was for women's basketball today. So I hope the fans know they're appreciated.
Q. When you're playing a team like that that definitely has a size advantage on you, what do you need to do? In what areas could you have done a better job against their size?
COACH MITCHELL: You need to score so you can get them sped up. I think you saw the few times we were able to really get the speed where we needed it we could affect them. But we went that long stretch it was 17-all, and then 29-17, and that was just many, many possessions where the tempo favored them as opposed to us.
So when you're small, playing against a really big, powerful, skilled team, you have to get the tempo sped up. Duke did a great job in their zone defense of just confusing us, and that is 100 percent my fault. That's not the players. They should have been more well-prepared for this game. I just am kicking myself that we didn't do a better job attacking their zone, but you credit them, they're a good defensive team, and they sure did a good job today. There is plenty we can learn from that. But we need to do a better job attacking that odd front zone.
Q. Sam Drake wasn't on the bench today? How is she?
COACH MITCHELL: Had successful surgery Friday morning, so she's not medically cleared to be on the bench. If someone were to run over and there was a collision, that would be bad for her. Had a really good surgery. Spent the night in Lexington Friday night and then her mom took her back home Saturday. So she'll rest over the next few days and we'll get her rehab cranked up on the 27th of December. Really, really happy with her surgery and the results of it. We're expecting her to make a full recovery and help our team next year.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
#23, Samarie Walker, Sr., F
On the size difference …
“They had a very big starting lineup and obviously ours isn’t as big. I think it had an impact mostly inside the paint. They made it hard to drive, made it hard for myself especially to go in there and score. I think it really had a big impact, especially with DeNesha (Stallworth) being out, one of our biggest players.”
On how they can improve …
“We definitely need to come out with more energy from the start and just let it fuel us throughout the whole game. I think we started to ware down after we got down however many we were down by at one point. We didn’t get back up and nobody was there to pick us up. One person was trying and everybody else was in a lull. When you only have one person versus the other four on the court, the other four win. Also, we need to shoot better free throws. If we would’ve made 10 we would’ve won, or even eight and tied it up. I think that’s something else we need to work on.”
#3, Janee Thompson, So., PG
On what Coach Mitchell asked her to do in the second half …
“He just was trying to get me to be more aggressive. I don’t think I started the game aggressive enough. I was really passive and that was making me play uptight. I think it was causing me to make some mistakes that I usually don’t make. I was kind of hanging my head about it and (Coach Mitchell) was really just encouraging me to let stuff go, to be a leader and that’s what I tried to do in the second half when I came out.”
On how they can improve…
“We learned that we have some things to work on. We just have to be ready to play and I don’t think we were as sharp and as focused as we needed to be today. We just have to learn from everything, the mistakes we made in this game, and be ready for our next game when we get back.”
#13, Bria Goss, Jr., G
On the crowd today in Rupp Arena…
“We’re just blessed to be able to have the fan support that we do. We are so thankful that it was sellout game. We really appreciate people coming out and we hope we opened up some hearts today so they will come back to Memorial (Coliseum) and see us play there. We’re just grateful.”
On Duke’s performance …
“Just giving credit to Duke, they played a really strong game. (Tricia) Liston played 39 minutes and that’s tough playing 39 minutes against team like us, as fast as we do. They just stayed into it, stayed mentally focused and calm. They took what was given to them.”
Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie
Opening Statement …
“It was a great crowd, super crowd for women’s basketball. I think that’s really important. We were thrilled to be here. Last time we came there wasn’t that crowd. There was a big crowd—not that crowd. I was really proud of our team’s poise and composure. I thought we had tremendous adversity with the foul trouble, too many people with four fouls. Wow, we had some serious foul trouble, but we continued to persevere as a team. I thought Tricia (Liston’s) leadership was incredible. She is a very, very smart basketball player with a lot of experience. She was huge for us in terms of gluing the team together and making plays happen. Elizabeth (Williams) was fantastic. She played 23 minutes. That was the foul trouble. I wanted Elizabeth to get excited about the fact that, ‘yes Elizabeth, you will play (23) minutes. It will happen.’ She will still have the opportunity to be very productive during those minutes. Good game for us. We’ve played a great schedule in 2013. We have a lot more of that coming after Christmas. This was good for us, gives us a chance to grow a little bit.”
On Kentucky going on a run with about five minutes remaining …
“From a coaching perspective, we always expect runs. Basketball is a game of runs. From my perspective, I was very focused on our team. (I was) feeling adamant that we were going to do what we were supposed to do.”
On their transition points …
“That’s always nice to get fast-break points. We wanted more, of course. I thought we were heads up. They do a lot of (pressuring) the ball handler. They do a lot of that type of thing. I thought our heads were up, our guards were looking, and people were there. I can particularly remember a throw ahead to Tricia, excellent take to the basket. I think when you gamble on defense like that, it’s our job to exploit that. Hopefully we did that enough.”
On their schedule this year, especially the past five games …
“Just a lot of great experience, we’ve played everybody and anybody. Mostly, I think we are getting stronger. You get stronger through experiences, whether they go your way or not. I think we are figuring out how resilient we can be. It’s important to us. To be a special team, you’ve got to do special things. Winning at (California). Winning at Oklahoma. Winning at Kentucky. Sending messages that we are trying to be a very special team.”
#32, Tricia Liston, G
On what her mindset was when Kentucky cut it to a five-point deficit…
“I think we just got more focused on staying into what we needed to do, like taking care of the ball and getting stops on defense rather than worrying about getting too tight. I think we needed to make sure that we didn’t get too involved with the crowd and everything else that was going on. I think we did a really good job of staying poised and sticking to our game plan.”
#01, Elizabeth Williams, C
On how important it was to beat Kentucky’s press and transition game…
“One thing we talked about was being able to control the tempo of this game and knowing that they are a pressing team was really important for us, because we were able to get those quick outlet passes. Also, this helped us to slow down and control the pace of the game. We were aware of their pressure, and I think we did good job overall.”
On how much do you think your size advantage at every position helped contribute to the win…
“I think it was a big advantage. Not only were the post players able to post up, but our guards were able to get easy buckets in the lane, which also helped us get to the foul line. It was really good for us.”