UK Hoops Media Day Recap

Oct. 29, 2014

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Matthew Mitchell Good morning, everybody.  I really appreciate you coming in early.  We have four seniors we're real proud of who are on track to graduate, and their academic schedule dictates that we practice in the morning this semester, so I really appreciate you all coming out and covering our team this morning. Really excited for another season at Kentucky.  I thank God that I get another chance to coach the Wildcats.  It's really, really special, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity.  We're certainly a team that's continuing to get into form right now, and through our early practices, we have a lot to be optimistic about, but we have a lot of work ahead.  It's going to be extremely important this particular season that we do a good job of coming together and everybody focuses on being their very best, so our team can be our very best, and it's going to be important for this particular edition of the Wildcats. We're looking forward to it.  Have a lot of work ahead of us, but it's a group that I'm really, really proud to be coaching right now, and I think we've got a chance to have a great season.

Q.  How much additional defensive pressure are you going to use this year versus last year?
Matthew Mitchell Well, we're working on it really hard right now.  We're trying to be an up tempo and pressure defense, and it just takes a lot of work.  It takes a lot of work, takes a lot of reps, but I think that one thing that we have going for us is we have some mobility in the frontcourt, which is very important.  You need to have bigs that will hustle and will work and can actually move, and we have that.  We don't know exactly where to go right now, but we'll get there. But I think that this will be a very good pressure defensive team, and we're working hard at that right now.

Q.  Of your newcomers that came in, is there anybody that stands out to you right now?  I know it's early, but anybody that stands out?
Matthew Mitchell Well, we like our newcomers.  They all bring something very important to the team, and we're going to be young in the front court, really essentially depending on three freshmen to do well. Kyvin Goodin Rogers has just bounced back from a very difficult freshman year with her health problems, and she looks really good right now and looks like a player we're going to be able to count on, as do Alyssa Rice and Alexis Jennings. Having said that, there's just a lot of work to be done, and they certainly haven't had the experience at this level yet, so as a coach, it's incumbent upon me to have a good plan every day, to be very focused in my teaching, and to have the right mix of    it's sort of some tension there between being patient and trying to promote a sense of urgency among those three.  So that's a delicate balance as a coach.  You've got to push them along so they will do what they need to do and also have the patience to allow them to grow into their roles. They stand out and look good, and we'll be depending on them this year, and I think by the time we really become a team, I think they'll be a big part of what we're doing.

Q.  You talked about why you're practicing early.  Are there benefits to that?  Are there drawbacks to that, having the players up so early, and do you plan on doing this all year, or are you going to change at the semester?
Matthew Mitchell:  Well, we're getting ready to develop our class schedule for next semester.  We always put academics first.  It's vital that our players grow as students here, and so I don't concern myself with whether it's in the morning or in the afternoon.  We've really tried to build a culture of honesty, hard work and discipline, and these kids are up four mornings a week in the summertime working hard at the crack of dawn, and that's just what you're going to do if you come to Kentucky.  You're going to work really hard, and so I don't see any drawbacks to it.  You just have to come out with a great attitude every day and work, and this team has. We've handled the mornings well, and I think it prepares them for life.  We want them to be really prepared when they leave here.  A lot of times you have to get up early in the morning.  In my job you have to get up real early in the morning and get to work, so maybe they'll have a job like I have, and maybe some of you guys have to get up early.  I don't really worry about the early morning time, we just go to work every day.

Q.  You as well as I'm sure most coaches are looking to always upgrade your bigs in terms of the size and the mobility. How do you feel about what you're doing to upgrade that?
Matthew Mitchell Well, Alyssa (Rice) has the best size of the three from a height standpoint and length standpoint.  She has great size and great mobility.  She can really move, really, really move well.  Kyvin (Goodin-Rogers) and Alexis (Jennings) are a little bit shorter but are very athletic, and both have great perimeter skills and can step out.  And Alyssa does, too, but Kyvin and Alexis both can shoot the 3 really well.  Kyvin has long arms and explosive athleticism, and so that helps her play against taller players.  She also has a bit of a mean streak that I like when she's out on the court, and so she can compete with a taller player because she has quickness, athleticism, strength and she has some length.  If you have long arms, it doesn't really matter as much how tall you are if you have some length to you in our system. I like where we are.  We're not going to be the biggest team in the conference.  It's going to be some other teams are going to have maybe some more height to them, but what we're trying to be is really, really tough, really disruptive on defense, and very, very fast and up tempo on how we get up and down and the pace that we create in the game. You need mobility and speed and athleticism more than you need height to make those things happen.

Q.  What from your perspective what was Kyvin's season like last year?  How much was she able to take part in?  What did she pick up while she was on the sideline?  And then since she's been back, what kind of motivation has she had?
Matthew Mitchell:  Well, I think you can see the benefit of her being on campus for a year mentally and how she approaches practice and how she's functioning.  She's, I think, built some mental toughness through a really difficult situation.  Last year was not ideal.  You can imagine, you've been working all throughout your high school career to get to college and to make a difference and to play on a really good team, and then that's derailed by a health condition.  It was very difficult emotionally for her last year to deal with that, and I think sometimes, or oftentimes, people if they approach it the right way can find some strength in times of adversity, and so Kyvin is a little bit ahead because she was on campus. It's still, though, her first go around here of being able to play and trying to get prepared to contribute because her blood clot happened pretty quickly after she arrived.  She is kind of going through all that for the first time.  I think she still has some adjustments to make with it essentially being her freshman year playing, but I do think there was certainly some benefits of her just being able to observe practice and know what the tone of practice is and where Alexis and Alyssa are probably still trying to get to know the situation a little bit, I think Kyvin has a bit of an advantage there. I have to make sure that I have the proper amount of patience with Kyvin because it is her freshman year on the court.

Q.  With a whole new staff of assistant coaches, what are you hoping they bring that challenges what you've done in the past or brings something different to the staff?
Matthew Mitchell Well, they need to bring a servant's heart every day.  They need to come ready to serve the players and help them develop as young women of substance and character, so that's the very first thing you need when you coach at Kentucky is to understand that we're always going to care about them more as people than as basketball players.  It's going to start there.  If you're coming here just to draw plays or to compete in recruiting or the various things that a college basketball coach has to be good at, you have to put those behind your desire to serve others and to really make a positive impact on these players and try to develop them and help them get ready to be great people, and so that's the first thing.  They all three are doing that. And then you need to have tremendous energy. When you play the way that we play and you are the fastest team in the country and the most up tempo team in the country and really different than just about anybody in the country, our ability to connect with one another is very, very important.  Our ability to play for each other, our ability to sacrifice for each other is important, and so I can't do it alone.  I can't get that atmosphere created all by myself, and so I need great support in that, and so the coaches have done a really good job from the standpoint of caring about the players. So that's very important, and then you have to have some competency.  You have to be good on the floor.  You have to be very aggressive and effective in recruiting, and all of the things that come along with being a college basketball coach.  It's a very dynamic job.  You have to be good at a lot of different things.  I'm happy with the potential this staff has.  I think we have three really quality individuals.  It's different, though.  They're also learning and trying to figure out what Kentucky basketball is all about. It's an exciting year full of some challenges but also the opportunity has never been greater because I think we've got a great group of people, we just have to come together as a team.

Q.  Can you talk about Makayla Epps's year last year, and what are you looking for from her this year?
Matthew Mitchell:  Well, I think Makayla came in last year with very high hopes but probably not the best understanding of what it was really going to take for her to realize those goals or hopes or dreams, however you would want to characterize that. She had a difficult summer because she had a nagging knee injury that we had to address, and so she really was not able to get herself in the kind of physical condition.  The thing you have to realize here is you have to get into a physical    you have to get into physical condition and shape so you can be at a spot where your mind will work and do all the things that you need to do. So the summer for a freshman is really important so she can just try because she'll be working harder than she's ever worked, so Makayla really didn't have the benefit of that last summer, and I think that hurt her because I think her conditioning held her back all season. And then sort of right when she was getting ready to come around, she flipped her car seven times, and what I found out is that generally doesn't help you a whole lot.  Somehow it has some type of effect on you, and it did Makayla, where really for about a month there in the middle of the season she was sort of in a fog, and understandably so.  It was a very, very scary incident in a young person's life. We basically had her a month there in the middle of the season, and that was one of the along with DeNesha's (Stallworth) injuries, that was one of the things that sort of, we hit that lull in the middle of the season, we just couldn't do exactly what we were built to do, and I think Makayla was a part of that. I think once she got her head right and her mentality back and you saw some flashes there at the end of the season, and so I think it was a frustrating freshman year for her, but I think it ended great because it wasn't a total flop, and it wasn't sort of a wash.  She was on the rise at the end of the year, and I think that was able to sort of buoy her spirits and get her going because she's had a great offseason, she's been great in the classroom.  I think you'll see a noticeable difference in how she looks.  She's really changed her body.  She is in the best shape she's ever been in and getting in better shape.  She still has room to grow.  And she is just one of our most talented players.  She is someone who, as she matures and gets her mentality really where it needs to be, she's going to be hard to handle. I'm very excited for her future, and there's a lot to work with there, still needs to grow and get better, but I'm very excited for Makayla. So I think to answer your question, freshman year was a good one to set her up for success because she went through some adversity that could help her in the long run, and she had enough success to get her excited for this year.

Q.  Two parts:  Speaking of cars and health, you've had some adversity in the preseason.  How is the health of your players?  The second part is would you just make a comment on each of your four seniors who have been such a part of the foundation the last three years?
Matthew Mitchell:  Well, we're going to have to address that in recruiting, we're going to have to recruit better drivers, there's no question about that.  We're missing on that somewhere.  (Laughter).  I've got to do a better job because we're not driving real well here at times. The health of the team, it's been a challenge this season.  J.J. (Jelleah Sidney) is a little banged up, has a finite number of plays left in those knees, and so we're just trying to bring her along.  So she's not full speed from an operational standpoint.  She's not firing on all cylinders because she doesn't have the reps yet, but we'll get her there. And then Ivana has a fibular stress fracture, and so that's really hurt her from being able to get out here, and I'm not sure when that's going to clear up, which has her behind, which has her maybe on track for a redshirt.  I think that's a real possibility for her right now.  She's not able to do anything on the court. So that's been difficult to absorb because it's one less body in practice. And then Jaycee's (Coe) car wreck thank goodness was not too bad from the standpoint of being life threatening, but it was scary and it gave her a bad concussion, and she's missed two weeks.  That was certainly not good for her development.  We just got her back on the court, so we're trying to bring her along. So we were down there to nine players for a while as you saw in Big Blue Madness.  We only had nine available, which thank goodness in women's basketball you're allowed to have a male practice squad, so we've been able to have good practices and up tempo practices, but Kyvin had strep throat for a couple days.  So we've just had some of those things, but I'm sure everybody around the country is dealing with things like that.  We've had better starts to the preseason from a health standpoint, but it's just what you deal with and you move forward and go with what can go and do the best that you can there. Our seniors, really all four individuals, very unique, very different. (They are) truly four individuals.  But love all four of them very much, and they have just in their own ways taught me a lot.  I've had to get to know them over the four years, and with Jennifer (O'Neill) five years, and it's fun to see them grow.  It's fun to see them develop.  It's real important for us to make sure that this was worth something to them, that not only do they have success and they've all had great success competitively here, they've enjoyed great success during their years here on the court. But I think all four of them have developed as people and are going to be grateful for their experience at Kentucky, and so I'm always motivated this time of year to really try to find out how they want it to end and how they want this senior year to go.  It's our last go around, day to day interaction, and we try to recognize that early in the year and try to make sure we make this season count for them on and off the court. All four of them have given a lot to the program.  You want to see your seniors go out with a very successful senior season, and we're highly motivated to do that.  But I think they're four terrific young women, and I think they'll all four contribute in a significant way this year.

Q.  Two years ago you talked a lot about how that team really gave itself over to the work ethic and the maturity and that sort of thing that it takes to play the way you want them to play.  Are you starting to see that same kind of attitude in this team, because it's not easy what you're asking.
Matthew Mitchell Yeah, this team is going to come along at a different pace than the last few teams just because we're so young in the frontcourt.  I'm happy with the team that we have and excited about the players that we have, but it just takes time and repetition to play the way that we want to play. It's interesting that I do this to myself every year.  It would be a little bit easier to kind of sit back maybe and play sort of safe, and it might lead to a more sense of comfort for me as a coach because it's pretty uncomfortable right now because we've got to make some progress over here the next couple weeks because we're about to play a very challenging early schedule, and so you have to have tremendous discipline as a coach.  You have to believe in what you're doing.  You have to believe in your identity as to what the team can be for long term success, and they have been a hard working group, and right now we're just at a spot where it's tough because you've got to go through this wall right now.  You can't go around it, and you can't have somebody lift you and place you on the other side.  You've got to go through this one right now.  They're working hard at it, and I think that this will be a spectacular team when we focus on our attitude every day and focus on our core values and just be a Kentucky team.  I think they have great, great prospects of success.

Q.  Last year you weren't shy about Final Four talk, Elite Eight talk.  Where do you see this team as far as expectations?  What are your goals for it?
Matthew Mitchell Yeah, you know, this team, we're just trying to build daily and try to get to our very best.  I have an idea of where that would land us, but I don't know that learning a lesson of and that's what's so fascinating for me is every year    this is my 20th year in coaching, and I just feel like I'm learning more now than I ever have. Last season, sort of painting the picture for them of Final Four and those kind of things because you know people around here want it.  I want it, staff wants it, fans want it, Mr. (Mitch) Barnhart wants it, everybody wants the Final Four.  You never know how the season is going to play out, and we had some adversity hit there in the middle of the season, and I think that that particular team didn't handle that real well.  We lost a couple games during the conference, and it really did something to our psyche, and I think it hurt them, trying to think about being a No. 1 seed and all of that that I had really pushed and put in front of them. I think right now for this particular team, what's very, very important is that they just try to become their best every day.  I have an idea of what that could be.  I think that could be really, really good and one of the top teams in the country, but I'm not talking to them a lot about results right now.  I'm trying to get them to be excellent in their character.  That's really, really a fantastic opportunity to be your best.  I'm trying to get them to be very effective in their competency, and then I'm trying to get them to understand how important being a great teammate is, just being a great teammate and playing for Kentucky and playing for each other. Those are our definitions of what being our best would be, and we'll have the schedule to handle all that we want to handle.  If we have success in our schedule, we'll be a very high seed in the NCAA Tournament.  When you're a high seed, you get to host it here at home, and that gives you a chance to march through. I think the veterans have been around long enough to know what the standard is here and what people are expecting.  We are a top five, top 10 caliber basketball program now, and I can't convince anyone any different even if I wanted to, so we just have to go about the business of being our very best every day, and I think that'll land us where everybody wants us to be.  I'm just not sure how long it's all going to take.

Q.  How has Bria Goss changed on and off the court in her three years here with you so far?
Matthew MitchellWell, Bria's parents ought to write a book on parenting, I can tell you that, because she came to us as an outstanding young woman.  I mean, outstanding.  Bria Goss really is a model of what we're looking for now from a character standpoint.  And in recruiting right now, we're trying to get super focused on who are the top players in the country who can physically do it, and then out of that group, who has the highest character, and that's who Kentucky is going after right now. Bria Goss is that type of person and that type of player, and so I've just seen her improve, and it's been because she has chosen to live that kind of life and to pay attention to her character and who she is on the inside and care more about that than surface things.  I think that she has grown tremendously.  She's taken advantage of opportunities to grow.  She hasn't shied away from it.  She hasn't ever done anything in my mind but try to get better. So she is a fantastic young woman and a real model for who we'd like to have at Kentucky.

Q.  You've talked about in your 20th year of coaching, you're learning more now.  What are some of those things you've learned, and how have you changed as a coach, at least over the past year?
Matthew Mitchell:  Well, the biggest thing that you hear, but I think you have to go through, is we've had some great success here, and things have been really good over the last five years.  How does that all work, and how do we continue to grow staying true to what our mission is and our core values are?  How do you be a program of principles and principle based living and really promoting and developing high character and a sense of sacrifice for one another and being a program of great preparation.  That's really what we're trying to be.  There's just no shortcuts to success.  Success is uphill all the way, and you just have to have that mentality every day as a coach that there's no sense of arrival. If you win an SEC Championship like we did, I always kind of thought, say 10 years ago, that was something that would have been hard for me to wrap my mind around, that I would be on a team or be a head coach of an SEC champion.  That would be hard to think about, but that doesn't really change things.  The championships and the wins, it doesn't really change you as a coach as much as maybe you think it would be if you're staying focused on your core values. This team, this year needs to learn these things so they can have success now but they can also have success 10 years from now, 20 years from now, and that's who I'm trying to be as a coach. That is all encompassing and trying to develop a total person has a lot more to do than just Xs and Os or whatever the different compartments are in a college basketball program, so I'm just trying to learn and to grow and to get around great people who I admire and who have had success.  I'm probably at a stage of learning 20 years in that starting out I probably would have thought I maybe would have had things all figured out after 20 years.  I think I have as much to learn and as much to grow now as I did when I started.  So that's where I think my mentality needs to be.  It needs to stay always trying to improve, always trying to grow as a coach and serve the players.

Q.  Last year when she was healthy, when you guys needed a basket, you could throw it into DeNesha (Stallworth) in the post and she could get one.  Do you have anybody who can do that?  And are you guys going to sell out Rupp (Arena) again, and what does that mean to the program when you can put 20,000 plus in there to see women's basketball?
Matthew Mitchell The answer to selling out Rupp (Arena) again is yes.  We will sell out Rupp.  There's no question about it.  The Big Blue Nation will rally and we will sell out Rupp.  Did everybody hear me?  We will sell out Rupp.  Put this on the news tonight:  We will sell out Rupp.  And in order to sell out Rupp, you have to go out and buy your tickets, so everybody go out and buy your tickets, so I won't look    they may put this in the newspaper, that I promised that we would sell out Rupp, and if we don't, I'll look bad, so no one wants me to look bad I don't think if you're a Kentucky fan.  So let's sell out Rupp for the Baylor game. What a great opportunity for our program to be showcased nationally with a sold out Rupp Arena.  It's the launch of 24 hours of college hoops is a very unique basketball event on ESPN, and I know just as a fan, I always tune into it.  There's going to be a lot of eyeballs on Rupp Arena that night, and if we can sell out Rupp and great a great atmosphere, that'll help our players, and a big win and a great night would help us a bunch.  It would be important to do and to happen. As far as throwing the ball into the post, right now all three freshmen are really scoring the ball well, and Azia (Bishop) is scoring the ball well.  Kyvin and Alexis are very good shooters around the basket.  You know, I think that that will develop as we go.  I'll tell you what they are, too.  They are really good passers.  We're throwing the ball inside more now than we probably ever have in my eight years at Kentucky, and it's good to see that we have some good passing big players because that's important in your high low game, and getting the ball to the basket where you can score.  Certainly post touches and post scores are important for a successful and highly functioning offense.

Q.  One additional question about Kyvin:  Can you just reflect on what that couple days was like last year when you found out that she was sick or she had her condition, and what was her mood from your perspective?  What was your mood as far as maybe how bad you felt for her or the emotions that you had that day?
Matthew Mitchell Well, it was a tough day.  I learned a lot about blood clots that day, just had not dealt with that, so I learned a lot about that.  Our doctors and the family decided to put her on blood thinners, which was the protocol that would try to guarantee her recovery and make sure that she didn't have any more problems or another one didn't occur, and so the moment she went on the blood thinners, her season was done.  That was a tough day certainly for her. But you know, these things have a great way of working out.  I think she learned a lot through the adversity.  I think I certainly learned a lot about her and what's important to her and how to coach her.  To see what she's doing now on the court and how she's approached this season, I think we've really benefitted from that adversity.  I'm real excited to move into the future with Kyvin.  She's a player with great promise.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports

#13 Bria Goss, Sr., G

On the new assistant coaches ...
"I've really gotten to know all three of them pretty well and I'm really excited that they are here for my last year. I've had a new coaching staff every year, so I know I can work around it, but I'm really excited that they are here and I know they will push me to get better."

On if the team's health issues will hold this team back early ...
"No, I think it has actually given us a boost because we are out in practice with eight people sometimes, giving more reps for all of us. It gets us in better shape and in better conditioning, while getting us more mentally tough because it's harder. It will help us get over future adversity."

On if she can tell a difference in Coach Mitchell's focus this year compared to last year ...
"He isn't focused on the Final Four or SEC as much. He changes all the time, for the better. He is always trying to be a better person and he is always doing a great job. His leadership is something that I count on every day and he has a great positive attitude that inspires us to come into practice and do what he says. He wants to be a person of great character and that really shows."

#50 Azia Bishop, Sr., C

On the team's full-court press defense...
"We just like to get up on the ball, pick them up before they get to half court and we like to get in their face. I think our defense is very disruptive. That's what Coach Mitchell wants from this team and I think that fast pace will help us win."

On what to expect from this team's offense ...
"Coach Mitchell compared it to going the speed limit. We have to go 35 miles per hour sometimes and other times go 45 minutes per hour. The big thing is to execute. We have to execute to be successful."

On the importance of the point guard in the half-court ...
"It's all about the point guard. They see the play they and they see what's going on. Whenever the point guard calls the play we have to execute and run the play, and that requires everybody to know the play as well."

#25 Makayla Epps, So., G

On the difference in her body and conditioning ...
"I can completely feel it. It's visible after watching film that I'm moving way faster than I ever have before in my life. It's a great feeling knowing that I came in and said that I wanted to lose some weight and get my body in good Division I shape and that's exactly what I did. I'm very happy about that."

On playing well and how important it was for her confidence at the end of last year ...
"It was extremely important. I got into that little mishap there in December that put me in a fog there for a couple of months, but then to play very well in the SEC Tournament and the postseason, it just gave me a lot of confidence coming back as a sophomore and that's really what I feel like I needed and lacked the most as a freshman, and that's confidence."

On what she has been working on for this season ...
"I'm trying to improve my basketball IQ. I think that I'm going to be on the court a lot more than I was last year, so I'm trying to be more versatile learning the one through the four (positions) because you never know where you could end up (playing) or where Coach Mitchell is going to play you in any given game. I'm not the biggest talker on the court so I'm trying to be a better communicator on the court."

#5, Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, So., F

On her mentality entering the season ...
"I feel more confident and more mentally tough than I ever have. I just know my part and what I need to do. Being out as long as I was I was just getting mentally prepared all of last season."

On her comeback after sitting out last season with a pulmonary embolism ...
"I never once doubted that I would be able to make it back because I knew it was a minor setback for a major comeback. I watched my teammates every day. I took in a lot. I followed their footsteps and knew what I would have to do when I came back. My teammates helped me get through everything. Now that I'm here I know what I have to do to get better. I knew I was coming back and I knew I had to get better, obviously being out a whole year. I knew there were things I needed to work on even before the season was getting ready to start. I just did what I needed to do."

On her expected role on the team ...
"I need to be a good defensive player and that I need to be good shooting and rebounding."

#35 Alexis Jennings, Fr., F/C

On how the team is bonding ...
"Ever since the summer, I feel like we've been gelling automatically because we are very close as a whole so that reflects on the court and how we approach things. If we ever have an issue, we just talk about it on the court and make sure that we correct the mistakes."

On having to focus on defense so much in practice ...
"I'm pretty used to it, but I wouldn't say on this level. I'm still working at it and trying to prepare myself to be great at this level."

"On the opportunity of earning a lot of playing time as a true freshman ...
"I don't view it as scary of anything like that. I just view it as a challenge and an opportunity that you can be a true freshman and make an impact if you work hard and put the work in."

On her most exciting moment of the preseason so far ...
"Big Blue Madness was something else. With all of those people, I thought I was going to be so nervous. As soon as you get out there and you're on the court you tune everything else out."

On getting acclimated to the UK system ...
"The change has been big. It's so demanding, any college basketball program is, but Kentucky especially is defense-wise. Just picking up that pace. (Coach Mitchell) expects so much of me, and we have high expectations here. Just living up to those expectations and learning everything has been a great challenge. But they've been great teaching us and getting us better with the program."

#15, Linnae Harper, So., G

On how much she has changed as a sophomore ...
"It was just about confidence. This year I'm able to help my teammates and also to help myself. I'm more aggressive defensively and offensively. I think that is the big difference from me this year to last year."

On what she tried to improve on in the offseason ...
"Just defense. I've worked on my quickness and fundamentals so that I can be able to play the type of defense the coaches want me to play. On offense I've tried to be more patient to get my timing together. I also worked on being aggressive."

On her relationship with Coach Mitchell ...
"He's a really genuine person so even during the recruiting process he was always there talking to me. Even my freshman year in practices, even when times were tough, he was always there to support me. I think that's made me become a better player on the court as well."

#0 Jennifer O'Neill, Sr., G

On if the team has changed goals for this season after high expectations the past seasons...
"We have, we focus on one day at a time. There's no talk about we want to do this or we want to do that. We say that we have to come in and work and tomorrow we are going to come in and do our best, and we work every day like that."

On what has to happen for the team to accomplish the season they want ...
"Everybody has to play. We have to reach our full potential and that will require nobody worrying about themselves, and having everybody concerned with the team."

On her expectations for the team and herself this year ...
"I just want to lead my team and see how far we can go. As far as expectations, I don't really know but the sky is the limit for this team."

#3 Janee Thompson, Jr., PG

On turning up the tempo again this season ...
"We're looking to get back to where we have been in the past with our defensive pressure. We've been working to be the hardest-working team in the country and play the fastest, so I'm excited for the season."

On if the post players have more mobility this season compared to a season ago ...
"I wouldn't say more mobility, but we did replace it. We have very versatile post players that can move and not the type of post players that are going to sit in the paint. They can get up and guard in the full court just like some of our guards do. Even on offense, they are just as versatile. Most of them can step out and shoot the 3 as well as post up and drive to the basket. I do think we have great post players."

On being a junior and if she feels like a leader ...
"I do feel l am more of a leader, but I don't know if that's just because I'm a junior. We are missing some leadership from people that graduated and that was a role that I wanted to fill. I tried to step up and fill that void with my leadership. I do feel like more of a leader."