Kentucky-Duke Postgame Quotes
Dec. 22, 2013
Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
COACH MITCHELL: Well, we want to thank all our fans for coming out today. What a special atmosphere it was in Rupp Arena, and it was really, really tremendous. Just want to give a lot of credit to Duke. They have a really good basketball team, and they played really hard and they played really smart. Made winning plays, and just outworked us there today. I think that's what happens in games with two really good teams going at it. Just the team that works harder, not that our team didn't work hard, I just think Duke worked harder. So you give them credit, and they really did a nice job.
We will try to regroup and see if we can learn from whatever mistakes we made, learn from them and move forward as a team. But still know we have a really good basketball team. Hate we didn't get the win today, but you have to credit Duke for that.
Q. I understand you're not an excuse guy, but it would seem like with the match-ups, if you ever needed (DeNesha) Stallworth today, it was it with her height.
COACH MITCHELL: You can talk about that all you want to. It's not anything. We won't know unless we play them again and DeNesha is in the game. So it's just not valuable in my mind to talk about it. We had some stretches in the game where you saw we could make plays and function. So I don't think that was a factor in the game because she wasn't available. So it was Duke's players versus our players, and we did not get the job done.
Q. Can you talk about the impact free throws had today?
COACH MITCHELL: Well, it wasn't good. You lose by eight and you missed 11, so you had a chance there that you let get by. So I would say that's a fair statement to say it was an impact in the game. We haven't shot free throws great this year. We need to do better at that. Really, really bit us today.
Q. Coach, what do you think of your transition defense?
COACH MITCHELL: I thought it was poor. I thought that we didn't communicate well. That is the coach's fault. That's a direct result of practice and what they're doing in practice. So we'll take the blame for that one. We didn't have our players in good position to transition defense. Again, Duke outworked us there. Just ran by us a few times. So as a coach you need to have your team prepared much better than we were prepared today, so I feel bad for our players that I didn't have them any better prepared.
Q. You were down six with a minute to go and you opted not to foul; could you discuss that strategy a little bit?
COACH MITCHELL: Yeah, there was a minute to go, we were trying to get a trap, and a turnover. They were guarding the 3-point line really, really hard and letting you drive the basket. So 3-pointers were going to be hard to come by. They had turned it over several times. I thought we had them maybe sped up a little bit, and, again, just a real crucial break down where we didn't do what we needed to do, and that goes back to the coach not having the players prepared.
We really needed to scramble harder. Then you get down to about ten seconds on the clock and you just try to play it out and see if you can get something there. But we needed something to happen early in that possession. They were 15 of 18 too. They're such good foul shooters. Statistically, you look at them and they're really good foul shooters. So I thought we probably had a better chance of turning them over and getting the steal than turning it into a free-throw contest, because they're really good at that.
If you'd had somebody that was shooting it poorly like a couple of our kids were, maybe you would have gone with that strategy. I just thought we'd have a better chance of turning them over than playing a possession game.
Q. In the first half they had a 10 rebound advantage on you. You did a better job on the boards in the second half. But what was the key in the first half? That seemed a big difference.
COACH MITCHELL: Yeah, just thought they really worked hard and outworked us. That's what rebounding is. Especially when you are needing to rely on technique and box outs and things like that. We just didn't do a good enough job on that. But I do think we made some progress in that area this week. We really practiced hard. Coming into the game, it was a big, big concern that I had because they're such a good rebounding team.
But I think we got better this week rebounding. I think we found something that was going to allow us to get better. So, I'm encouraged by that. I think you'll see some improvement in our rebounding in the coming games.
Q. Obviously, when you guys came up with the idea to pack the house, I'm sure you hoped you would do it. But what was it like to actually be there to see it and the atmosphere of the crowd, especially at the times they tried to pick you up when you fell behind?
COACH MITCHELL: It was really remarkable. If you've been around here as long as I have and been in the league as long as I have and you know you've really got good perspective on what today meant. I don't want to beat ourselves up too much. We lost to a good team. They're a really excellent basketball team. But, gosh, I sure wanted to reward that great crowd with a victory.
I think they know what our program is about. I think they know what our kids are about and how hard we'll work. I think you'll see more days like this in the future. But it was a remarkable thing for me. I really tried to put it out of my mind, but I couldn't help it there right before tipoff. It was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to see where it had started and where it's culminated. We need more days like this.
I can't leave that topic without really thanking Lee Todd, Mitch Barnhart, and Mickie DeMoss. They were the three visionaries that really led to this happening today. Without those three people, none of us would be here with that.
So it was really, really special. From the bottom of my heart, I'm so appreciative and thank those fans.
Joanne (P. McAullie) was really complimentary and thankful before the game and after the game. She recognizes how big that was for women's basketball today. So I hope the fans know they're appreciated.
Q. When you're playing a team like that that definitely has a size advantage on you, what do you need to do? In what areas could you have done a better job against their size?
COACH MITCHELL: You need to score so you can get them sped up. I think you saw the few times we were able to really get the speed where we needed it we could affect them. But we went that long stretch it was 17-all, and then 29-17, and that was just many, many possessions where the tempo favored them as opposed to us.
So when you're small, playing against a really big, powerful, skilled team, you have to get the tempo sped up. Duke did a great job in their zone defense of just confusing us, and that is 100 percent my fault. That's not the players. They should have been more well-prepared for this game. I just am kicking myself that we didn't do a better job attacking their zone, but you credit them, they're a good defensive team, and they sure did a good job today. There is plenty we can learn from that. But we need to do a better job attacking that odd front zone.
Q. Sam Drake wasn't on the bench today? How is she?
COACH MITCHELL: Had successful surgery Friday morning, so she's not medically cleared to be on the bench. If someone were to run over and there was a collision, that would be bad for her. Had a really good surgery. Spent the night in Lexington Friday night and then her mom took her back home Saturday. So she'll rest over the next few days and we'll get her rehab cranked up on the 27th of December. Really, really happy with her surgery and the results of it. We're expecting her to make a full recovery and help our team next year.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
#23, Samarie Walker, Sr., F
On the size difference …
On how they can improve …
#3, Janee Thompson, So., PG
On what Coach Mitchell asked her to do in the second half …
On how they can improve…
#13, Bria Goss, Jr., G
On the crowd today in Rupp Arena…
On Duke’s performance …
Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie
Opening Statement …
On Kentucky going on a run with about five minutes remaining …
On their transition points …
On their schedule this year, especially the past five games …
#32, Tricia Liston, G
On what her mindset was when Kentucky cut it to a five-point deficit…
#01, Elizabeth Williams, C
On how important it was to beat Kentucky’s press and transition game…
On how much do you think your size advantage at every position helped contribute to the win…