Head Coach Craig Skinner Press Conference Coverage

Dec. 2, 2008

Craig Skinner Quotes  

Opening statement...
"First of all, I didn't get the opportunity after our Tennessee matchbut I just want to thank our fans for showing up the way that they did the last coupleof matches. Their support has meant a lot to us. I think that support really goesa long way for our program. On top of that, I'm just really excited about gettingthe chance to host the NCAA Tournament Thursday and Friday. I think it speaks volumesabout our players and our program and the respect that we've earned over thelast few years. Some of the selection process is out of our control, but I thinkwhat we've done is earn some respect in some people's eyes to rewardus with that opportunity. I think it is going to be a great event. I also want tothank Mitch Barnhart and Lisa Peterson for putting the bid in to host, and givingus this opportunity because it is a bidding process. Their support in helping usget to this point in our program has been phenomenal. It should be a great Firstand Second Rounds. Michigan, Saint Louis and Kentucky are in the top-25. I thinkit is going to be a great match on Thursday (against Michigan) and hopefully we'llhave an opportunity to play again on Friday. Some of you may have heard, but I'mreally excited about our players who earned All-Conference especially Sarah Rumelywho was the Player of the Year."

On the advantages the program gains from the opportunity to host...
"It is added recognition I think. I've been getting e-mails, not onlyfrom recruits but from other coaches who are excited about what we have done so far.Club coaches take notice of things like this. So, for recruiting I think it addsa whole new dimension especially if we continue to draw the crowds that we have thelast couple of matches. If you're drawing over 3,000 fans you are one of thetop-five attendance programs in the country."

On some UK players facing former teammates and opponents in the tournament ...
"One of the Michigan players (Megan Bower) was a club teammate of Lauren (Rapp)and Sarah's (Rumely). Whenever you play against former teammates it adds alittle extra juice. I know that they'll be excited to play, and the great thingis that they are all competitors. They have played against some of them also on differentteams. A lot of our players are from the Midwest area and Michigan also recruitsin Big Ten country. So, it's going to be fun. It's going to be an excitingmatch with two power conferences in the first round of the tournament."

On how the loss to Tennessee is affecting the team ...
"I guess the most positive thing I can say about that (the loss) is that we'reall disappointed that we didn't get that win against Tennessee. We had opportunitiesand we just didn't quite get it done. But, I just continue to speak about thisteam's resiliency and their responding to situations. Sunday was our firstpractice since then (the loss) and I hadn't really talked to too many of theplayers after the match. But, they just came in on Sunday and got to work. They arevery competitive in practice. I think they're excited about what we call ourthird season. We have pre-season, and then conference season and now we'rein post-season. Practice this week has been at a very high intensity level. We'reall just excited about getting a chance to get back in the gym and compete. Unfortunatelywe didn't beat Tennessee, but I think we are mature enough and competitiveenough to know what is in front of us."

On the experience the team has gained from past NCAA Tournaments...
"Almost always in the NCAA Tournament you don't play somebody from yourown conference. So, you get to play against a different opponent that you haven'tstudied over and over again. It's not a team that you've already playedagainst twice. We're going to have a game-plan and a strategy of things we'regoing to try and do, but you don't know them as well as you do a conferenceteam. It really becomes about what we're going to do on our side of the net.We have to play extremely aggressive. We have to play extremely passionate, alertvolleyball and just let it all out because there's no second chance. It'sthe NCAA Tournament and it's one and done if you don't get that win.I've really seen that this week in practice. Last year at practice we werea little bit just excited to be there and to get the opportunity to play in the NCAATournament. Now, I think our team understands it is about competing and giving yourselfa chance to win."

On what he does to keep his team focused for one match at a time...
"Michigan is such a good opponent that I think it would be silly to look pastthem. Speaking about this (Kentucky) team in particular, it didn't matter whowe were playing this year they always seemed to be pretty intent on dealing withwhat the next opponent's challenge was going to give us. Michigan presentsa very good offense. They run some nice plays. They are an experienced team at acouple of different positions. It is going to be high-level volleyball. I can'tstress enough that I think our fans saw some good volleyball against Florida andagainst Tennessee. This is going to be another similar match. It's going tobe another good opponent in Michigan."

On Sarah Rumely winning SEC Player of the Year ...
"It is a great honor for her. I think I said to someone yesterday, all of theawards that she has have been earned. She is a tireless worker. She is extremelycommitted to becoming the best player that she can be, and committing to the program.I think she would trade that (the award) for a conference championship. She'searned it. Her team is excited for her. The great thing about Sarah is never goingto rest on her laurels. She'll continue to work hard to continue to take thisprogram to new levels."

On the NCAA Tournament selecting Michigan as their first round opponent ...
"In the NCAA Tournament you never know who you are going to face. You neverknow where you'll be. I think the first thing we were excited about was beingthe host. There probably is only one other First and Second round site that has threetop-25 teams in it. I think it's going to be the most competitive First andSecond rounds in the field. I'm excited that I am coaching the University ofKentucky in this First and Second round. I think that we have a lot going for us.We're here, and Michigan is our opponent and let's just get it done."