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Kentucky-Tennessee Postgame Quotes




Feb. 19, 2009

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“I really think that our players played with a lot of fight and energy tonight and it was a great, great effort for us especially getting down so much early in the game. We didn't get off to a very good start but we battled our way back. Probably the thing that I am most proud of is how we attacked the basket all night long that was a big emphasis for us. It is a tremendous win for Kentucky and give all the credit to the players because they did a tremendous job tonight.”

On what he means by attacking the basket …
“Just offensively when we were able to stretch the lead out there in the second half I think that we were very aggressive. Tennessee puts a lot of pressure on you on the perimeter and the best way to combat that is to be aggressive yourself and we were able to make enough plays tonight going to the rim. That was key and we did a great job especially on the defensive boards late. That was huge for us.”

On watching UK's big lead go down and if he thought Kentucky could hold on to the lead …
“They had plenty of time to come back. I was never comfortable as far as the outcome until the last 30 seconds. Tennessee is such a great program and you knew they were going to make to make another run at us that is why I was so happy with the production there to get that big lead. The bigger the lead got the better chance we had to hold them off. They made a heck of a run but we had created enough separation that we were able to make enough free throws to win the game.”

On what he was thinking when Kentucky got down big early …
“I did not feel very comfortable early when we went down by 10. What was happening was that we were getting some good looks and I was trying to remain calm with that part of it. I knew that if we would just settle down and make some shots we would be alright. I thought that we were inflicting some of our pain there when we were making poor plays. It was not a situation where we were in desperation mode. I have been there before and it wasn't that kind of feeling, definitely.”

On the other players stepping up when Roddy went out …
“That was when we were able to spread the floor a little bit. Those situations there are mismatches on the floor and you have to make it turn your way or the other team will make it turn their way. They were very big at the time and we were able to make it work toward our advantage. The reason we were able to do that was because Victoria Dunlap and Amani Franklin just battled with those bigger players for Tennessee defensively. We talked about at halftime trying to put a lot of pressure on the basketball so they couldn't enter the ball in easily and I thought that our perimeter players did a good job there. It was a case where if you could play defense then you can take advantage of them by spreading the floor and I thought that is what they did.”

On if this is just another win for this program …
“It's a tremendous win for us because we were 3-7. We had four games left and the only one we could control was tonight. We just have a lot of work to do. This is a great victory and I am a very happy for our players.”

Kentucky Players

Victoria Dunlap #34

On how it felt to have such momentum during the game…
“It felt really great to see how my teammates and I came together as a team. We were showing people what we could do. We were all together as one with the coaches. The fans cheering made it that much more exciting.”

On winning a big game after a rough stretch…
“A lot of people didn't think we could do this. That's because of the way we've been playing lately. That's a matter of us believing in ourselves. With our fans here we believed that we could go out there and do what we just did.”

On Coach Mitchell's reaction to this win…
“He was really proud of this moment. We were proud of him for not giving up on us.”

Amani Franklin #25

On being injured towards the end of the game…
“I was just having some leg cramps. It wasn't anything serious. I felt great throughout the game. It was only toward the last five minutes I started cramping. I've got some ice now and I'll be ready for Sunday's game against LSU.”

On Kentucky's momentum during the game…
“The momentum kept coming. We wanted it more. That's the bottom line. When we were in Knoxville we lost by 5. We held on to that and we knew we could beat this group of players. That's what we did tonight.”

On Tennessee cut into Kentucky's lead…
“We weren't worried. Throughout the game we handled their pressure. We were able to make the defensive stops to win the game and that's what we did.”

Carly Morrow #5

On making free throws during the game…
“There was no pressure. I knew I needed to hit the first one. I knew I had two shots. I wanted to make both of them and then get back on defense. We run practices with drills where the team runs if we miss free throws so we are used to those situations.”

On what this win means to her and the program…
“We just beat Tennessee. It was something about growing up in Chattanooga, so close to The University of Tennessee that made it more special for me. Every day I dreamed about playing and beating Tennessee. I'm really excited right now for our team and our coaches, especially Coach Mitchell. He has had faith in us the whole season.”

On winning a big game after a rough stretch…
“A lot of outsiders were telling us to save what we could. That's not the mentality of this team. Our coaches have not given up on us. They have worked so hard with us. We are not giving up but staying disciplined. We are working hard in practice and really going at it.”

On Coach Mitchell's reaction to this win…
“He has the confidence of a lot of people at this university. We see how he comes in every day and puts in 110%. He cares about us off the court, too. That's rare in a lot of coaches to care as much off the court as on the court. He puts a lot into this program and so do the assistant coaches. We want him to see the benefits of his efforts and we got the win.”

Eleia Roddy #1

On how great this win was…
“It's another breakthrough for our team. It's a great win against a great team, coach and program. It's a great feeling to beat the defending champs. We had confidence. We wanted to stay in the game. Once we saw that we could beat them we wanted to take the game over. That's when we really went out there got the win tonight. We didn't want to just stay in the game, we wanted to beat Tennessee.”

On being in foul trouble during the game…
“It was disappointing that I had to go to the bench. My team took care of me out on the court. That's what every player wants. It's not just about me as a player but it's about my team making it happen. That's what they did. I had a lot of confidence sitting on that bench.”

On knowing how badly needing a win…
“We were aware that we needed a win. We knew this was an opportunity we couldn't let slip by us. We have let so many opportunities slip by this year for one reason or another. We knew we had to capitalize on this game. We knew if we wanted to turn our season around we needed to do it now.”

Amber Smith #24

On what this win means to her and the program…
“It means so much. Beating Tennessee makes it mean so much more. We are going to build on this. This is a big win for us. We are going to celebrate until practice tomorrow. We have to start getting ready for LSU. Now we know what we are capable of doing.”

On how she feels after this win…
“I'm excited. I'm happy for Coach Mitchell, because he is such a great man, and the rest of the coaching staff. I'm happy for my teammates because they mean so much to me. To get this win for my teammates was awesome. I'm so happy for my team.”

On staying focused during the game…
“We got a big lead. The coaches kept telling us not to let that go. We knew Tennessee was going to make a run and we had to be ready to answer that. We had a lot of momentum and we were hot but we knew we couldn't get complacent.”

Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt

Opening Statement …
“I thought that they played with more fire and just got up and down the floor better than we did. Just looking at the game statistically, Roddy was 7-for-9, Dunlap isn't shooting the ball well but she had 15 boards. She found a way to make good things happen when she wasn't shooting well. We can take a lesson from watching that. They shot the ball well and obviously, we were 1-14 from the perimeter and it is hard to win, especially on the road, when you are not getting more production from the players that you are counting on. I will tell you and I will tell them that in 35 years of coaching this group has probably the lowest energy game in and game out of any team that I have coached. I am not really good at coaching effort and I am very disappointed in just a lack of competiveness in a number of our players.”

On if they were tired after playing on Monday …
“I don't know. I haven't been inside their head so I don't know what they are thinking. It's not basketball most of the time. I can assure you of that. We have to go back to Knoxville and have practice tomorrow. Trust me we will have a healthy practice tomorrow. Maybe at some point in time they will realize that if you don't play hard in the game you will have to practice much harder than you played in the game.”

On if there is a lack of passion in this team …
“ Totally a lack of passion. That is probably the biggest thing that our coaching staff struggles with. You are talking about four coaches that have just a competitive drive in everything that we do and the fact that they don't have it. I don't know that you can give that to a player, they have to decide who they are and what they are willing to invest in their game and in this program.”

On if this team has an identity right now …
“I think that when you have players that aren't invested in your program, it is hard to arrive at an identity for the team. I can't say defense is our thing, no, or that rebounding is what we do best. Obviously scoring is not what we do best. I am kind of looking for our identity right now.”

On if the team gave up down the stretch ....
“They made a run and we have done that a number of times this year. We have come from behind to win a game five times this year so they think that they can flip a switch and win and you're not going to do that when you have a team like Kentucky playing the way they were playing. They probably thought ‘well this is a game that we ought to be able to win' but you have to go win it. This game would have been winnable if we would have been focused on being a 40-minute team.

Tennessee Players

Kelley Cain #52

On coming out and playing hard against Kentucky…
Every game I give my all no matter what. I want to go out there and do what coach asks me to do.”

On getting her teammates to play at a higher level…
“I believe we can get them there it's just a matter of them being receptive. We need them to jump on the bandwagon and get going.”

On if there is time to turn Tennessee back around…
“With what time we have we need to use it wisely. We need to get on our best game.”

Alex Fuller #2

On Kentucky's run to win the game…
“I think when they were making that run we needed to cut into it with a stop but we couldn't do that for whatever reason. They kept penetrating on us and that's what was hurting us the whole time. They knew that and they took advantage of it.”

On the final three games…
“We have three more games and then the conference tournament. It's win or go home. That's what it comes down to. We are trying to get as far as we can in the conference tournament. We want to go on to win the national championship but we aren't going to win anything playing like we did tonight. It's time to grow up. We have been saying that all season but now it is crunch time.”

On what's keeping Tennessee from being a great team…
“Our team is young minded. We use the young term a little too loosely. Some people have thrived on that. You have to work to be at Tennessee. It's not just a label. It's something you have to work for day in and day out.”


 

 

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