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Kentucky-Missouri Postgame Quotes




Jan. 12, 2014

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“I want to compliment our players today for playing an incredibly tough game and getting a really significant win for us. We needed it badly. We certainly weren’t at full strength today and the job that they did pulling together and beating a really good Missouri team. It is amazing to me how far Coach (Robin) Pingeton has brought that team in one year. They are really, really tough. They are a very, very difficult match up for us and I was extremely concerned coming into the game. I knew it would be a battle to get the victory. Our players fought hard today and bounced back from a really tough two-game slide that we had there. To come back home and find a way to win when we didn’t have everybody available was really, really great for us. We are excited about this victory.”

On Kastine Evans not playing Sunday due to injury …
“Kastine battled a little leg injury that we have been able to manage throughout her career and it just has some pain in one of the bones in her leg. We have been able to manage that. It just really flared up on her Thursday night and you saw she didn’t shoot the ball that well and couldn’t get a lot of lift on her shot. Then, you know, just the champion that she is and the competitor that she is she tried to battle through practice Friday and Saturday, but I could tell something was wrong with her Friday and Saturday. I think she was going to try to go today, but we spoke after practice this morning and just encouraged her to be honest. If she couldn’t go full speed we needed to know so we could make some adjustments there. This was going to be such a hard game on defense, you were going to have to hustle and be so tough and if you couldn’t go full speed against Missouri she needed to tell me and to her credit being the high-character young woman she is she let me know. She said, ‘Coach, I just don’t think that I can go full speed today.’ It is something that we have been able to manage throughout her career so we are hopeful that this week off until next Sunday we will have her back on track. We don’t anticipate this being anything long term, but it certainly was a significant injury today not having our team leader and one of the smartest defensive players (available) when the scheme for Missouri is just so difficult. That was a significant loss. Proud of the team that we were able to win, but we expect Kastine back in short order.”

On Bria Goss’s play and leadership Sunday …
“Yeah, I am telling you, you just have no idea how nervous I was before the game. Just with where our psyche was after the two losses and we were just not full speed and I just thought today we were going to have to play extremely well and extremely tough and I was talking to the coaches before the game and I just said, ‘Bria Goss has to play today. We really need Bria Goss to have a big game.’ I thought all of us, not just Bria, but when it was 25-16 – whatever that big margin was there in the first half – everybody was playing tentative and everybody was worrying about a shooting slump and all that stuff that goes into your mind that if you let that affect you then you are beating yourself. You are giving the opponent a pass. We didn’t need to give Missouri a pass. They are really tough and we needed to make them earn a victory if they were going to get it. Bria I thought, along with Janee Thompson and Jennifer O’Neill and those kids really hung in after a really poor start and played tough. The biggest thing that Bria did for us now was that she went on (Bri) Kulas (defensively) in the second half and really, really affected her and did a masterful job. That is a kid on a day where we needed a big effort and needed all hands on deck, she was able to get it done on both ends of the court and that is big time, big time game from Bria Goss. Really happy for her because she is a great, great person and works really hard and she loves Kentucky.”

On DeNesha Stallworth’s play …
“It is good that we can get her out there on the court. She is awfully productive. As I am watching the game and maybe you can see she is having a hard time with her conditioning and is just not bouncing back really quickly. I thought she struggled today to sustain the effort and I think that was just conditioning. There is a lot of basketball left and plenty of time for her to get going and I just think a game like today is so terrific for her. It really pushed her physically. I would have to think today was a very good step forward for her just for conditioning. Probably better than anything else that could have happened (like) putting her in our treadmill or doing cardio was game action and getting up and down. Just really productive for somebody that is clearly not as sharp as she is going to be. That was another huge factor in the game that she was able to get some productive minutes and we were still able to win today.”

On Bernisha Pinkett’s injury status …
“She and Kas(tine) are both just having some pain in their legs and I don’t know all the medical terms, but they are similar injuries. They have just flared up and the less activity today was better for us long term. It sure didn’t make today all that comfortable, but we think we will be able to manage both of those situations and going forward it won’t be an issue but it was today.”

On what he told the team when they faced a big deficit in the first half …
“I just told them that we were playing like we were scared to lose and I tried to talk to them about that before the game. I am telling you, it’s been an amazing thing to watch as a coach. You are kind of rolling along there at 13-1 and you have a couple of bad games and now all of a sudden everybody thinks they are a bad player and looking around and wondering and thinking somebody is going to do something and give them something. I just called that timeout and really got onto Janee Thompson. I thought she missed three or four shots early on and she started thinking about maybe hanging her head tentatively. Missouri stood in the paint, five people in the paint and somebody at some point was going to have to hit a 15-footer. Somebody at some point was going to have to stop worrying about being scared about losing the game and step up. I just tried to wake them up the best that I could and I thought from that point on just telling them to stop dragging around and feeling sorry for themselves and start making some plays. From that point on I am so appreciative that they took that to heart and listened. Janee went right out there and stepped into a jump shot and nailed it. Jennifer was off to a terrible start and she stepped in there and made a big 3 and that stuff gets you going and you start on the way back. From that point on, we really started playing some good basketball and I am telling you, it is very difficult to play basketball with five people standing in the lane and you are scared to shoot perimeter shots that you know you can make and have been making all year long. It is a mental toughness that you have to have at this point in time. It is a long season, you are going to have some ebbs and some low points. You just have to battle through. Very, very proud of the team for battling through today and winning when we probably weren’t physically our best and we sort of doubted ourselves as the game started.”

On Samarie Walker’s game and if the team needed a win coming off two-straight losses…
“The second part I will answer first. Not from the standings or our long-term future, but just for our immediate psyche right now we needed to win. I thought I probably took the loss last Sunday (to Florida) way too hard. That probably affected the team some. Then Thursday night, that’s just going to happen over there (South Carolina). It’s going to be real, real rough and tough. That’s just no bargain over there ever. This really wasn’t that big of a deal, but I thought that our players really want to win. They want to be a great team. They want to accomplish a lot, and I thought that ended up hurting us. We were just a little bit low and down so the win was significant just to hopefully get our minds back to understanding that we have a lot of talent, we’re a good team and we just have to play hard and stick together. Then Samarie, you can’t overlook a player like her. I don’t know anybody who can really get on the glass consistently like her. She just does a great job. (I’m) really proud of her for battling in there. It’s tough when you’re double, triple-teamed, and I thought some of her offensive boards were so huge for us. When they’re packing that zone in and forcing you to shoot from outside sometimes you don’t make them. She was able to get some offensive boards and an and-1 play. Her play was spectacular. She’s just a real mobile post-player, good defender and it was good that we had someone like her that could try to at least make (Bri) Kulas work for some points. So really good performance by Samarie Walker.”

On why he thought Bria Goss needed to play well…
“Because we didn’t have Kastine (Evans), and didn’t know what Bernisha (Pinkett) could do. Also in a big time game it looked to me like the win in Columbia (by) Missouri on Thursday night against Georgia they looked really confident. I thought it was two teams coming in sort of different. I thought we were kind of coming in low and they were probably coming in high. I thought you saw their confidence early in the game. Bria is just a real talented big-time player. She needed to play because we didn’t have full strength. Sometimes I think Bria might get lost in the shuffle there, and she just couldn’t today. She had to have a big game, and she did. So just for where we were and also emotionally for our team you lose your leader like Kastine and then Bria is right there with Kastine, I just thought she needed to play well today and give a great effort so we could find some way to get a win. I’m telling you I am as happy about this one as I have been about one in a long time. We needed it bad.”

On if he told Goss before the game that she needed to step up…
“No, I just told all of them that not one player was going to be able to beat them. Togetherness is what I talked about before the game. I talked about everybody doing it together, and everybody doing their part. In my mind I thought Bria needed to bring it like she did tonight and she did.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#13 Bria Goss, Jr., G

On is she knew that Coach Mitchell was expecting a lot from her today …
“No, I did not. Before the game, I brought the team together and said ‘Look, we’re down another player, which means everyone has to step up.’ That’s really what I was going for. Not just me, but I knew that my teammates were going to step up.”

On guarding Bri Kulas …
“I knew through practices that I was going to go out there and see what I could do. I knew I was prepared going into the game. I was evaluating what she was doing in the first half. She is a great player and she can score in a lot of different ways. I was just honored to guard her.”

On the significance of the win …
“This is a huge win. Missouri is a really good team and for us to come out the way we did and battle back, get our confidence back and ease into it was really good for us. I know practice is going to be really tough the next time we practice and we just have to focus on the next team.”

#3 Janee Thompson, So., PG

On the mental state entering the game …
“No, Coach Mitchell did a really good job of keeping us positive, especially after the loss at South Carolina. Things could have gone completely different after the game, but we fought hard in that game, but it was just a tough break that we have to handle. He really stepped up as a leader and stayed positive and showed some optimism and that carried over to the rest of the team and we brought that into this game.”

On making a mid-range jumper to open up the offense in the first half …
“It was very important because we were struggling offensively coming off of our last game. We just needed something. He told us in that timeout that we needed to let everything go, play loose and be confident. Once he said that, I think that really picked me up and gave me the confidence to go in there and not get shut down and we were just rolling from there.”

On playing with Jennifer O’Neill …
“I love playing with Jen. She really takes the pressure off of me as a point guard. I don’t feel like I have to do too much at all. Knowing that our second point guard is already in the game makes it a little bit easier. And, I think as long as we play well when we are in the game together, we will be something that you will see a lot because we both can score and create, and we can also defend.”

#11 DeNesha Stallworth, Sr., F

On her physical health …
“My knee feels good, but it’s all about conditioning. I’m trying to do things more consistently, especially on both ends of the floor. I think once my conditioning catches up, I’ll be good to go.”

On the magnitude of the win …
“Like Bria (Goss) said, I think it was a great win for all of us. Everybody contributed in different ways and I think that’s what we need later on down the road.”

On what she learned from Samarie Walker from the bench …
“She has a really good eye for the ball. Offensive rebounding is something that I’ve noticed with her. Her timing is really great. She is really aggressive and she finishes well inside. I would just say she is relentless when she gets the ball.”

Missouri Head Coach Robin Pingeton

On hanging with UK and then letting it slip away…
“I felt like in that second half we did a much better job of taking care of the ball, we felt like to be in the ballgame, against a great, great Kentucky team, we’re going to have to limit ourselves to 14 or less turnovers. The first half, we had a couple, that maybe could have extended the lead if we had taken care of the ball. We came out in the second half and gave up back-to-back three-point plays, gave up a couple too many offensive rebounds. They really did a nice job finishing from the free throw line at the end of the game. I’m proud of our kids, I felt like they competed hard. I thought they played with great poise. We’re still at the process of building a program and the focus is absolutely on the process and we want to just continue to build it day by day. I think we’re a much better team than we were a year ago, I think we’re a much better team than we were two weeks ago. We have a lot of respect for Kentucky. We have a lot of respect for Matthew Mitchell and what he’s done here. They’ve got a great program, so for us to come in here and do what we did tonight, obviously we’re disappointed, but very proud of the kids too.”

On UK’s defense, if it picked up in the second half…
“What did we end up with turnovers? We had 17, I think we had 11 at the half, so I felt like we still had some good looks, I really did. There were a couple plays late in the game, around the three and a half minute mark, where we maybe tried to make some 50-50 plays, didn’t make that extra pass, but overall I felt like the second half we did a much better job of taking care of the ball.”

On feeling more confident coming in after seeing UK lose its last two…
“That’s why you play the game. Records and stats, they all go out the window. You’re a competitor and you have to go into every game thinking you have a chance to win. But we certainly have a lot of respect for Kentucky, and Matthew Mitchell has built a great program here. I think he’s a coach that has a lot of resiliency, and it’s the next opportunity, the next 40 minutes. I don’t think it had anything to do with Kentucky’s losses that gave us our confidence, I think our confidence came from how hard we work every day at practice, how many extra hours our kids put in and what a united team we have. I think that’s where our confidence came from, it didn’t have anything to do with Kentucky.”

Missouri Student-Athletes

#13 Bri Kulas, Sr., F

On her game…
“I think Kentucky has a great defense and that’s one thing we knew going into the game. They were out-pressuring us, so I was looking to attack the basket.”


 

 

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