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Kentucky-Louisville Postgame Quotes




Dec. 1, 2013

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“A terrific game today and a terrific atmosphere, we really appreciate all the fans that came out. The Louisville fans, I thought, showed up and really cheered their team on. Really, really appreciate our fans for coming out and making it a sell out and for providing such a great atmosphere for women’s college basketball. Great day for that. Louisville is such a tough team and we have tremendous respect for them. I thought they played very, very tough and we were extremely fortunate to win. Really excited that we were able to turn around a difficult start and play a tough second half and find some way to win. Good day for us, we need to get better and learn from it and move forward because the road doesn’t get any easier. But I think, at the end of the year, this will be a really valuable win because I think Louisville will have an outstanding season. We are really happy today.”

On the team’s rebounding in the second half …
“I just think it was a mindset. I can’t explain to you the first half and Louisville has looked that way on tape, that aggressive and that energetic all seven games that I watched of them. They are an extremely energetic team and we certainly, as coaches, tried to prepare our team but we didn’t have our team ready to go and that is very disappointing. It was a mindset. Nobody got taller at halftime, nobody got faster, we didn’t give anybody anything that got them jumping higher or anything. They had to get their mindset changed. It was a very, very disappointing first half for us. We were so fortunate to only be down nine with the kind of half we played. It was a very, very poor half of basketball. Louisville just took it to us, credit them. They came out the way you need to come out. At halftime, there were two things we can control and that was effort on defense and effort on the boards. Then, we could also offensively, control being aggressive and getting into the paint and start making some plays. Louisville is a very difficult team to play against because they are such a good defensive team.”

On the team being more aggressive penetrating in the second half …
“You have to go more than one pass into the offense against them. They do such a nice job on the initial action and you must get the ball reversed and get the ball to the other side of the floor. You have to be very smart and take advantage of opportunities when they are there and they are not always there, but sometimes they are. If you catch the ball one action and then pick the ball up and stand really static it plays into their defensive schemes. We were not aggressive. Our point guards, God bless them, they scored 25 points and I am really happy they did because we would not have won the game without them, but we were nowhere in the first half close enough to what we need to be at Kentucky as far as aggressive and attacking, moving the basketball. It was a lot of coming off a screen, it would be switched, we would hold the ball and look at them. You cannot play U of L that way. They are too tough of a defensive team. You have to be tougher than that. In the second half, I thought we were a little bit tougher.”

On DeNesha Stallworth…
“She had two rebounds at halftime? I thought it was zero. DeNesha Stallworth did not have a good first half. And so, we had a very pointed conversation at halftime about her first half. I thought it was a very poor performance. Then you go in the second half, 15 points and (six) rebounds, that is the kind of effort you need in two halves. We just cannot become the team we want to be with her playing with that inconsistency. We all saw what she can do and you can’t wait to get chewed out at halftime all the time. You must take some responsibility and practice really hard and be mentally focused. You absolutely can’t let missed shots bother you. It was a big game and everybody knows we want to win and she missed some shots early and it really, really affected her play. We are fortunate to escape with that kind of effort in the first half. To her credit, she turned it around and we certainly would not have won without her big second half. She is a really good player and I am glad we can learn a lesson out of a win instead of having to learn it through the pain of defeat. We need to learn the lesson, though.”

On Kentucky’s first half 3-point shooting…
“Well it was really a team victory and Louisville puts so much stress on you to make decisions both defensively and offensively. They are such a well-coached team. They make you think and you have to be mentally tough. We were not being very mentally tough. Makayla (Epps) being a freshman coming off the bench – I thought the two freshmen in the limited minutes – really came off and gave some production. It’s hard to sustain that over the course of the game because they put so much stress on you. Eight games into their careers they are just not ready quite yet to handle that. I just thought both freshmen made huge contributions in limited minutes. Makayla’s 3s really saved us because we had nothing going at the time, and we were not being mentally tough. That was a huge boost for the victory. Then Bernisha (Pinkett) is shooting the ball so well at practice. Man when those things left her hand, both of them, I was like ‘oh gosh I think they’re going in, they really look good,’ and I was strongly encouraging the ball to go in when she shot it. I wanted that badly. At Kentucky we just try to make sure that we get the win for Kentucky. We don’t care exactly how it happens or who gets the credit or who plays the minutes. I’m really proud of our team today for just finding a way to win. Those two players in particular, we wouldn’t have won without their contributions in limited minutes.”

On DeNesha Stallworth’s second-half performance…
“I am trying to grow as a coach, and I’m starting to understand how to talk to different people. You can’t reach everybody the same way. So we spend a lot of time building relationships with our players and trying to figure out how to get to them, but there comes a time in a game like this that there’s only one tone you can use. This is Kentucky-Louisville. This is a big game. If you’re going to come out and not play is just unacceptable. Through the course of the week, and the highs and lows of the week, I will try different types of tones with DeNesha (Stallworth). I try not to jump all over her, that’s not the best way for her to get information, but at halftime of the Kentucky-Louisville game when you’re dragging around and just not playing when your team needs you, there is only one tone to take. That is: you’ve got to get it going here and if you don’t you’re putting your team in jeopardy. This was a huge game today. I don’t care how you slice it. You don’t get many shots at the No. 4 team in the country. You can’t say this is just another game. In my mind you have to go win this game. In our place, we’ve worked so hard to protect our home court, and we’ve done a beautiful job over the last five years. You have to play in this game. Thank goodness she played in the second half. We needed her badly.”

On the growth of Kentucky-Louisville game in recent years …
“It’s no fun preparing for this game because Jeff (Walz) is such a good coach. It’s a miserable proposition for me because you have to be prepared. You have to work really, really hard. It’s always so early in the season you don’t know exactly if you can get it done. Personally it’s a difficult game to prepare for. The styles are very different. You will hear often people say it’s hard to prepare for Kentucky because we can’t simulate the pressure. You can’t simulate what Louisville does because their players are so well-coached, so different from what we do, so it’s a very difficult game. Having said all that, I guess I’m going off on a tangent about myself; I need to talk about how good the game is for everybody else. It’s a great game for everybody else. It is an electric atmosphere here; it’s an electric atmosphere over there. And it is tremendous for women’s college basketball that in the Commonwealth of Kentucky two of the best teams in the country are 60 miles apart, and we truly respect them. I feel like they compete really hard against us, which is a sign of respect. It’s a good time for women’s basketball in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.” 

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#0 Jennifer O’Neill, Jr., PG

On the biggest difference between the first and second halves…
“Matthew (Mitchell) basically came in at halftime and told us that he didn’t like the way we were playing, we weren’t playing defense like a Kentucky player would play defense. He just got on us so we wanted to turn it around in the second half.”

On what point in the first half did you realize it was going to take a little more to comeback…
“I agree with the first four minutes of the game. We were able to see that we really were not focused and that we didn’t come out to play the way we normally would. You know for a game like this, you should be excited and ready to play. We didn’t show up the first four minutes at all.”

#3 Janee Thompson, So., PG

On the difference between the first and second halves …
“I think in the first half we weren’t as focused as we needed to be. When we came out at halftime we were able to buckle down, take a step back, and really focus and that helped us on defense and with our rebounding because we gave a poor effort on the rebounds in the first half.”

On when she realized it would take more effort to win this game …
“In the first half we got down like 12 points and I realized that Louisville really came out to play. We would have to buckle down and really get focused to turn the game around.”

On how important the bench was in this game …
“Our bench is important every game. We have a really deep team, we have a lot of talent on the bench. Anybody on our bench can come in and contribute and I think that’s what they were trying to do. It did really help, they gave us a spark and it gave us that extra boost of energy that we needed.”

#10 Bernisha Pinkett, Sr., G

On the biggest difference between the first and second halves…
“The first half we didn’t come out ready to go from the jump. We started out real slow and didn’t play Kentucky defense. Then in the second half we came out with a lot of energy and knew that in order for us to win the game, we had to get down and really play defense like we have been playing all year.”

On what point in the first half did you realize it was going to take a little more to comeback…
“Right in the beginning with the first couple of turnovers and then with us not getting the 50/50 balls and the hustle plays. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. We just couldn’t go out there and play like it was some soft team that we could just walk all over. We knew Louisville was a good team and if we really wanted to win, we had to work for it.”

On the ability to come off the bench and provide a spark for the offense
This was not my first year being in a big game.  I knew when I got in, whatever he needed me to do I had to be ready; whether it was getting a stop on defense, getting a rebound, or making a three. It so happened to be me being down and ready for the kick out for the 3. I was just saying when I get this ball, put your elbow in, knock it down and get back on defense.

#11 DeNesha Stallworth, Sr., F

On the difference between the first and second halves …
“Our defense is what creates our offense, so us getting on the offensive rebounds is really important. I think that played a big factor along with honing in on defense, putting pressure on the ball and disrupting them. I think that’s why we were able to gain the momentum.”

On the halftime pep talk that Coach Mitchell gave her at halftime …
“He basically just told me that I’m not playing how I could be playing and just to play and relax and stop being so selfish. I was being a little selfish, not helping my team, so I just took that personally and just tried to contribute more to my team, whether that’s rebounding or scoring points or doing the little things.”

On if Coach Mitchell said anything that changed her perspective on being selfish or not …
“I knew I was being selfish but I didn’t know what was going through my head, so I just had to refocus and tell myself to calm down, relax, play basketball and do the little things. It starts on the defensive end, I wasn’t rebounding well and I think that triggered me and that helped my offense. Just staying with it is my main focus and a game is 40 minutes, and although I didn’t play well in the first 20 minutes, I still had another 20 minutes to bounce back.”

Louisville Head Coach Jeff Walz

On turnovers and missed layups …
“That’s part of the basketball game. We had the opportunity to get up 14 or 15 at the half but missed some easy opportunities that you have to make. We turned the ball over. Their pressure is good. They do a nice job of doubling the on-ball-screen but there are about eight of them that we threw straight out of bounds. Bria (Smith) brought it up the side and there wasn’t a thing one of their players did. She just lost the ball straight out of bounds. We run a set play and she throws it off of Asia (Taylor’s) shin and it bounces straight out of bounds. Those are the things that we’ll take down, show them and break down. It’s really trying to get our kids to understand, you’ve got to value the basketball. With all that said, what cost us the game was that we just did not rebound in the second half. I thought we did a great job in the first half. (We) controlled the boards. We controlled the tempo of the game. We played it exactly how we wanted it to be played. I was really proud of them. Then we come out in the second half and miss a lot of point-blank shots you normally don’t miss. Then, we started to give up offensive rebounds because we started to get frustrated. That’s a bad combination. At the under-16 media timeout we were up four and we hadn’t scored. We did a very good job defensively. I told our kids the whole time. No other way to say it, we (gave) it away. Am I going to sit here and be all down and depressed? I hate to break it to you—both of my girls are here again this year—but no, I’m not. We play on Tuesday. We’ve got practice tomorrow and are back in the gym. Are we going to learn from it? Yeah, there’s no question about it. We had our opportunities and you’ve got to take advantage of those.”

On DeNesha Stallworth’s performance in the second half …
“I (think) she started the second half and got two or three offensive boards. I think that got her going. She did a much better job in the second half of attacking the glass. She got the opportunities close by. I thought we did a great job defending her. She is very talented but she likes to go over one shoulder. We knew that and we did a very good job of being on that shoulder. She’s a big time player. There’s no question about it. But I think her willingness to go to the offensive glass in the second half is what got them going.”

On Sara Hammond fouling out …
“I’m not sure it changed much for us. She only played 23 minutes for us. It wasn’t like she was out there a bunch. She got in foul trouble. I’ve been telling her for a year and a half now, ‘you’ve got to get your hands off people. You’ve got to stop extending your arm.’ Sometimes they just don’t believe you. Now that we show her this film, I hope she will believe me. We can’t afford to have her on the bench. She is such a threat for us being able to score, she rebounds the ball well and she is strong in the paint. Her playing 23 minutes was without a doubt not a good thing for us.” 

Louisville Student-Athletes

#23 Shoni Schimmel, G

On UK’s play in the second half…
“Offensively they just rebounded, that’s one thing we just got to go in and re-evaluate. Just continue to rebound and don’t just stop because we’re up at half. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be up at the end.”

On the unforced turnovers…
“We need to continue to stop throwing the ball over our head. That’s one thing coach told us right before the game. It’s just one of those things we have to break, they’re bad habits. Getting down and ripping it, we’re going to work on during practice. It’s just a learning experience.” 

#00, Sara Hammond, F

On the change of play on rebounding in the first half vs. the second half against UK…
“I don’t think it was anything strategically. I think it was just better effort.”

On things they learned from the game…
“There are a lot of things we can take from this game. If you look at our turnovers, that’s big and a critical thing for us all season no matter who we play. We just have to take care of the basketball. Also rebounding too, we’re very deep in the post this year, there’s no excuse for us to not let other teams get offensive rebounds and especially come crunch time in big games like this. We need people that are out there to step up and rebound.”

On the play against DeNesha Stallworth in the first and second half…
“Coming into this game we knew how dominant of a player she was. She’s a top 30 player in the country in my opinion. She provides a lot offense to her team and we knew in the post she was going to work block to block. We just needed to keeping circling her and be physical with her. Not allow her to get easy touches, I think we did that in first half but in the second half she did a good job of working hard and her team did a good job of getting her the ball and getting her in open spots, allowing her to get easy baskets. I just give credit to their team and hard of a player she is to guard and she did a good job second half.”

#31, Asia Taylor, F

On the offense in the opening of the second half…
“It was nothing about their defense, we just got great shots in the beginning and we went 0-for-11. Shots just weren’t falling and shots that we normally make. They made their run and then we came back. We tried to chip away but this game isn’t going to define our season. We wanted to win this game, we were prepared and we worked hard to win this game and we just came up short. We learned a lot from this game and we’re going to move forward.”


 

 

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