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Kentucky-Eckerd College Postgame Quotes




Nov. 3, 2013

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement…
“What a great opportunity to be back in Memorial Coliseum today. It is so much fun to play in that building. We had a great crowd (today). I can’t think that there are many places better to play college basketball than Memorial Coliseum. It was great to be back in there for the first time. Really, really pleased with the effort from the players today. I thought they worked extremely hard and played really hard. It was not the prettiest game that we have ever played here or probably end up playing this season, but I thought they gave great effort. Defensively, we tried to do some things that we have worked really, really hard on. I am really, excited about their willingness to work and all the other things that we can work on in practice and fix in practice. I think they have the attitude to get that done. So, it was a good day for the Wildcats.”

On the team’s offensive performance and how you evaluate that moving forward…
“You just go back and see are they doing what they are supposed to be doing in execution and taking care of the things they can control. You know, sometimes you line it up and do your best to shoot the basketball and it doesn’t go in. We call that something during the game you don’t have a lot of control over. You do (have control over it) in the summer and in the free time, getting in the gym and those kinds of things. We will just see if they were bad shots, then we will correct that. It was a tough shooting day and everybody can see that it was not our best shooting day. We have shot the ball really well in the preseason so it is not something that I am too terribly concerned about and really we have only practiced in Memorial yesterday and this morning and that is my fault. It’s just a bad job of getting in Memorial. There is a lot of excitement starting the season so we can talk about it a lot but I will look at the film and see if we were doing things correctly to produce the right shots. I think we will have better shooting days than we did today.”

On a conversation he had with an official late in the game…
“There is a new emphasis this year on protecting the ball handlers and cutters and more freedom of movement. There was an official out there I have a lot of respect for and who is a Final Four official and called a lot of our games over the year and I was asking her about one particular play where JJ (Jelleah Sidney) got a foul there at the end and those are the kinds I am a little concerned about how we teach. If that is a bang-bang play, it is pretty much going to go to the offense a lot of times. Then she said we did a good job today. We did a good job with our hands and we weren’t reaching and fouling a whole lot. I was very pleased with that part of it. We have worked extremely hard to stay true to our identity and the personality of the program of being a high-pressure team. That was probably the most pleasing aspect of the game that there wasn’t a whistle every five seconds and we are over there frustrated. I thought the kids really worked hard and I think they will get better from here.”

On the play of the freshmen…
“I was very pleased that they were able to show some strength and character or emotional strength – however you want to put that – to bounce back from some mistakes that they made and that is what they have been doing in practice and I was very happy to see them do it in the game. I thought both of them had some very difficult moments in the game where it showed they were freshman, but I thought their attitude stayed really good and they ended up having a productive day. That is what you want to see from them and right now it’s progress. They are behind just because of experience. We have a very experienced basketball team and it will take them sometime to catch up with that, but you saw some talent out there from them today and that helps them survive right now as we go through this process. I am excited about where we will end up and I thought that they took a step forward today in the game.”

On Samarie Walker having more fun and playing more free…
“We get out to that big lead and then we start missing a bunch of shots and I thought the energy was low to end the first half. And so, I was just really wanting to talk to them about a few things you do because there was not a lot of room inside and you had to execute. Sure, we could just dribble down and throw it to somebody and shoot a 3-pointer, but we needed to get the ball inside and execute. I just loved their response and in particular Samarie’s response because she came out and got some buckets inside, one off a hustle play with a tip-in and that seemed to get her going and got her spirits up and she was sort of the catalyst of getting our energy back to where it needs to be. At Kentucky, we need our energy at a high level so we can play the way we can play. I thought she had a fantastic second half. At halftime, Coach (Shalon) Pillow was talking to her, ‘You are getting your hands on a lot of basketballs, but you have to go get them. You are that type of player. You can snatch them out of the air and make plays for us.’ It was a good response from her and she had a lot of fun out there in the second half and I think that is where we need to be.”

On what the team will focus on in practice moving forward …
“It is just a process for our team the way that we play. I thought that Eckerd did some really nice things in the beginning of the second half. They made some adjustments at halftime and that is a sign of a well-coached team. They burned us on some backdoor plays and they were very smart players and did an excellent job. Those are the challenges for us, as we get out to a big lead in the press and you have to be so mentally strong to stay in your stance and to play for 40 minutes. It is as much of a mental challenge as it is physical, but there are certainly things on defense (to work on). Just straight line drives from the basketball to the basket and the help is not coming fast enough, those kinds of things are familiar to us this time of year. We are opening the season against a quality basketball team and we will have to work on our defense very hard this week and make sure we are ready to guard a good team.”

On DeNesha Stallworth…
“Yeah, it was an efficient day for her with 17 points in 22 minutes. She got on the offense glass in the second half and really tried hard to do that. She made a 3, made a baseline jumper and got some at the rim. I would like for her to continue to be very aggressive and have this belief of the kind of player that I believe she is. She is just an outstanding talent and I thought she had a very solid game today. I know she missed some shots that she would have wished she would have made. We need, as a coaching staff, to make sure we are doing a good job of getting her touches. She needs the basketball in her hands and today even with three and four people collapsing around her, if she can get the basketball and kick it out that helps our offense. What is so great about today is Eckerd did some things to us today we just haven’t worked a whole lot on. It was a great, great experience and I thought their kids played extremely hard and I have a lot of respect for them as they head out of town. They helped us today.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#11, DeNesha Stallworth, F

On not playing each other and finally an opposing team…
“It definitely felt good playing against somebody else. We obviously didn’t shoot the ball well, but our effort was great. It was exciting to be on the floor as one (team).”

On Samarie Walker being more upbeat with herself from last season to this season…
“She has definitely worked on her attitude this past summer. She has been reaching out to the players, and she knows that she has to step up and she has taken the role and doing it well. She has been great finding herself.”

On who is the most competitive person on the team…
“I can’t really point out one specific person because everybody is so competitive. Everybody wants to win, and that’s what makes us so much better. We just know that when we come into practice and give 100 percent effort into every drill that we will be better.”

#23, Samarie Walker, F

On shooting being different in Memorial Coliseum than the practice gym…
“Honestly, no. Jen (O’Neill), Janee (Thompson) and I had a conversation about that earlier. We said that if you can shoot, you can shoot the ball anywhere. But, I do think that the freshmen aren’t as comfortable in Memorial Coliseum as we are. It was the first game, so it will get better.”

On what she wanted to do coming out of the halftime break…
“I think we lost energy coming out in the first half. We all came out with some energy in the second half.”

On everybody contributing to the win…
“We are a versatile team. Everybody can bring the ball up the court and I think sometimes people prefer people to bring the ball up the court, but DeNesha (Stallworth) gets a rebound, and (Matthew Mitchell) just lets her bring the ball up.”

#15, Linnae Harper, G

On her first game…
“I was really excited for the first game. We have been practicing for a whole month, and just the anticipation of just getting on the court and playing with a group of girls that really love the game was great.”

On scrapping for loose balls …
“I like to rebound, but it’s really just doing the little things like being aggressive on defense and hustling and bringing effort.”

On what she wanted to learn in her first game…
“Really, I just wanted to get a fit for the system. I wanted to get a fit for the style of play. Kentucky is known for outstanding defense, and that was one of my main goals. I wanted to play outstanding defense and play with great energy and effort.”

Eckerd Head Coach Paul Honsinger

Opening statement…
“What a great opportunity to play at Kentucky. Being a Division II school and traveling all this way in one of our player’s backyard. We are really grateful to Kentucky for bringing us here, and hosting us here. The atmosphere, pre-game and fans are something our players don’t have every day. It is great to come and give our best effort. It is something our players will never forget and we are thankful for that opportunity.”

On the first 10 minutes…
“Their pressure is unlike anything we can simulate in practice. We prepared as best as we could for them, but it seemed like there were seven or eight of them out there. I think we weathered the storm and were able to score that first bucket. Then we were able to score is small spurts and keep it respectable. We defended well in the first half. We really tried to pack it in, cover gaps and block out. Being able to hold them to 33 points in the first half, despite turnovers, was courageous.”

On the rest of the season…
“We will never play another Kentucky. We have some good athletes in our league, but not that caliber. Those are world-class athletes. We came in with not a lot of ball handlers, but it was going to have to rest on Kayla (Bowlin). She played all 40 minutes. In our league, we can spread it out more and allow other players to touch the ball.”

On the players that did not play…
“We have an Indiana University transfer who was injured in a car accident. We had a player who got sick last night and we did not want to risk it. We also had a third player who was injured. She is coming off an ACL tear from last year. We have a bigger agenda and want to get ready for our conference play.”

On how this game happened…
“It was through our AAU contacts. We met the right coaches in the AAU circuit and that is how it happened. It is all in who you know, and we were able to capitalize and get this exhibition.”

Eckerd Student-Athlete

#10, Kayla Bowlin, G

On what it was like to play Kentucky…
“It was incredible. I have come to many games here, as well as Rupp Arena. There will never be another day that I won’t be a Kentucky fan. It was surreal going out there and seeing everyone in blue. It was an opportunity that I will never forget. I played AAU with Makayla (Epps) and Kyvin (Goodin-Rodgers) and it was really good to see them.”


 

 

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