UK Hoops Head Coach Matthew Mitchell Press Conference

Jan. 16, 2009

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“As I have done preparations for Mississippi State today I am very impressed with their team. They had an excellent non-conference record and they pose a tremendous challenge to us Sunday afternoon. They are very athletic and have a lot of explosiveness on offense. Being athletic it makes them very dangerous defensively, causing turnovers and blocking shots. It will be a very tough game and one that our team is looking forward to because we will have to play good basketball to beat Mississippi State.”

On what the team showed him winning on the road at Alabama last night …
“It was a difficult place to play and they (Alabama) have struggled for a few years now. We try to take one game at a time. We tried to get our team ready for Alabama this year and they are much improved. They are very hardnosed defensively and Coach Hudson has done a good job turning them around. I was worried about the game and our team's mindset but they prepared well for it and had a good shoot around before the game. I was very pleased with how we started the game. We took control early but made some mistakes throughout the game that allowed Alabama to get back in it. We have some players that corrected the mistakes that we were making during the game. We just gave up too many offensive rebounds and that was going to make it difficult for us to win the game. At the end of the game, Eleia Roddy and Victoria Dunlap showed why they are top rebounders in this conference because they took over the defensive boards and it was a great sign to see us understand what we needed to do to win the game and get it done. It was a great win for us and we found out a lot about our team last night.”

On if they playing zone against Alabama led to Kentucky's rebounding trouble …
“That was the disappointing thing is although we did play some zone last night we were mostly man-to-man. Alabama takes a lot of shots late in the shot clock that are wild shots and causes wild rebounds. We talked about that before the game because Arkansas did a lot of the same things. There were a lot of loose balls last night that we didn't come up with and that is uncharacteristic for our team. For us to reach our potential we have to be the team that hustles more and comes up with the 50-50 plays. That has to be part of our formula for success. That is what led to a lot of Alabama's rebounds is that we didn't hustle hard enough during stretches. The last five minutes we corrected that and that is why we won.”

On Amani Franklin's play recently and if she is hurt …
“Amani had knee surgery two years ago and with all the minutes this season the knee has got to a point where it is bothering her and she was not 100-percent last night. That was another bright spot for us. We were able to go on the road and win when we weren't 100 percent physically. Carly Ormerod and Brittany Edelen got into the game and played well for us last night. We are going to rest Amani today and tomorrow with limited reps to get her ready for the game Sunday. Amani at 75 or 80 percent is still one of our best players so she is going to try to give it a go Sunday and then we will check and see what the best thing to do medically for her next week. She is always in the training room and it is something that we have to manage. Right now with all the minutes she is playing its just swelling that is causing some pain.”

On if he is worried that he didn't have much bench production last night …
“It is always a concern when you don't play to your potential and our bench has been huge for our good play recently. I would rather everyone play up to their capability last night but it is such a long season in the SEC. We will try to address it in practice but I am not overly concerned. We will have nights where we don't play our best, not because of effort but because things aren't clicking. When you can win on the road on those nights it is a good sign for your team. We have to be a team about hustle and rebounding and doing the little things. We aren't going to blow anyone away because we don't have all the talent in the league but we have enough talent to have success.”

On if the team knows that they are good enough to win with grind and hustle …
“I think that they do and we have done that in practice. We have won several games in the last few weeks and it was an attitude change that took us from a 5-5 team that was struggling to where we are now. I think that they understand that it's all about having pride in playing at this university and putting that Kentucky jersey on. We want to reflect that when we take the floor and if they ever don't understand that I will make sure to remind them.”

On his attitude change lately and if he is becoming more of a cheerleader on the sidelines …
“I wouldn't say cheerleader. The cheerleaders are always cheering and sometimes it doesn't matter what is going on with the game, they are still cheering so I don't want to be that. I want to be more realistic. I would say I want to become more of an encourager and more of a teacher. I think it is so easy with someone with my personality, being emotional and fiery, that I want them to get it and get it now. I want them to understand the great opportunity they have and I am passionate about that. It is easy for me to yell and scream and show them what I want out of them emotionally. I won't ever lose that but now I want to yell less and teach more and find a teaching point in every situation whatever the moment calls for. Last night at Alabama they tied the game up and I was not happy about that because we had a chance to stretch the game out there. But instead of screaming and yelling, I just tried to figure out how we would play the next play and what we had to do to score. That is my mindset, becoming more of a teacher and encourager. I always preach to our players about honesty, hard-work and discipline. We call it our winning tools and I need to practice what I preach. I need to have discipline in my coaching. So, it has been good for me. It is a growth opportunity as a coach and it is good for me to have.”