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Kentucky-Grambling State Postgame Quotes




Dec. 29, 2013

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Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“It was a good win for us. The players played hard and made some good things happen out there today. I thought Grambling State really worked hard and gave a great effort. They were certainly short on players today and missing some of their players. They were in a difficult situation and I thought they competed really hard. We want to compliment them for that. Just really happy that the players could come back from Christmas break and try to get some things going that we worked on in practice. We only had three practices coming in since coming back. For what we were able to work on I was pretty pleased. I will have to watch film to see exactly where we ended up in this game. Good win and a great, great job by the team handling the non-conference schedule going 12-1. To get that done with the schedule we had I am really, really proud of them and happy about that. Now we turn our sights towards one of my favorite parts of the year and that is the Southeastern Conference play. It is a great conference to be a member of and to have a chance to compete for the championship is really exciting. We will try to learn from this game and get ourselves ready for a tough SEC schedule.”

On preparing the team for the increased level of play in the SEC …
“Well, we talk about getting ready to play in the SEC at times during practice during the non-conference schedule, we will talk about how important it is to make a play here or do something correctly there in reference to SEC play. We do reference that throughout preseason and the non-conference schedule. It is never too far from our mind. That is what the non-conference schedule should prepare you for is playing in the league. So we do talk about it from time to time and now it is really terrific that we can just set our sights on a game this Thursday that gets it all kicked off with Alabama. It is time for us to really get serious about seeing if we can win one game at a time and that will be the game in front of us with Alabama on Thursday.”

On DeNesha Stallworth’s progress …
“I think we are right around the three-week timeframe now and she is progressing nicely. She had a really good day today of rehab and gets better every day. She started shooting free throws, which is an encouraging sign to just see her with a basketball in her hand and out on the court and getting that done. That was good. I don’t think we are looking at anything before four weeks. I think that we will take a good look at her at the end of this week and make a determination. If I had to guess right now, I would say probably Thursday out, possibly some minutes next Sunday or it might even fall to the next Thursday or even the next Sunday. We won’t rush her back at all. We will make sure she is 100 percent and we will get her going at the appropriate time. She is working hard and itching to get back on the court and she is really excited about reentering the season and playing.”

On Bria Goss and her leadership role …
“Yeah, Bria and Kastine (Evans) have really worked hard at it and taken a lot of ownership in that area and have worked at it. It is important. Bria just has to know that with the leadership position you have to stay very focused and produce on the court and I thought she did a good job scoring today. We need her very badly to succeed in the Southeastern Conference. She needs to be a well-rounded player, good rebounder, good defender, good scorer. I think that is very, very important for us. I think she will have a lot to say about how successful the season will be.”

On Jennifer O’Neill looking to pass first in Sunday’s game …
“Not particularly for her, but I think Jennifer saw the Duke game as us: one pass, shot; one pass, shot. Not really good execution. We made a huge, huge push the last three days of getting the ball moving and really reversing the ball and today was the kind of game that Jen could have gone and gotten any shot she wanted, and I just think from a point guard perspective she was trying to get the ball moving and getting some touches into the post and getting the ball to the short corner and getting the ball into some scoring areas. I would probably say that was it more than anything else. I was really happy with her defense today. I thought she leveled off the ball probably better than anybody in the game. She was very, very unselfish with the basketball so seven assists is producing I don’t know how many points. It may have been more than 14. But she was very productive today and didn’t necessarily have to score. It was a good day for her and I would probably, I haven’t talked to her about it we will have to go back and look at the tape, but that was probably on her mind. We practiced this morning and really worked hard this morning. We didn’t have a normal game day practice. We worked hard this morning on getting the ball moving against a 2-3 zone and not getting stagnant in the half court. I think that is what was happening today.”

On Makayla Epps and Linnae Harper
“Yeah, they had some good moments today. Both of them getting double-figures is great. Both of them have so much ability and so much talent. That is why we are so optimistic about their future here and so glad they are here and they are going to be really good players. Both of them we will need to continue to improve and up their level of play as they make a contribution in the Southeastern Conference. They are clearly talented players and they are just still trying to figure out exactly what to do and some of the finer points of the game. In practice they are working hard. I am optimistic about their future and I look forward to seeing how they handle Southeastern Conference play.”

On if he saw the team have a letdown today and the impact of UK’s big first-half run …
“A couple of things that we worked on offensively, we were trying to move the ball and then defensively we were in a mode now where we are trying to sharpen our press. I thought our press really affected them but we have a ways to go there to really get our rotations. We were late on our rotations today. I think we took a step forward in the press today. But I thought that run in the first half was just fueled by a lot of intensity and a lot of hustle and kids playing hard. I thought they did a nice job in the second half. We didn’t press. We tried to get both units a couple of reps live and then didn’t press the rest of the game. I thought they did a fine job and kept their intensity. If it ever waned it wasn’t for very long. They were able to get it refocused. So a good day for us and really happy to finish out the non-conference schedule, 12-1.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#13 Bria Goss, Jr., G

On getting the Duke game out of their system …
“I told the team before the game during warm-ups that we were coming off of a loss and this was an important game. I think we came out in the first four minutes and really set the tone. The second group of five came out and there was no let-up.”

On a tough gameday practice today and if that is normal …
“It was not surprising how hard we went. We’ve gone hard on game days before. You usually see teams not even have ankle braces during shootaround, where we come taped and ready every day. We are doing full-court layups and hard defensive drills, so that wasn’t surprising. We had a good result today.”

On importance of being an offensive leader …
“It’s important, but this team has so many scorers. It could be anybody’s night. I mean, I had a game high today, but tomorrow it might be somebody else. That’s what is so special about our team. We are all able and have tendencies to score at will on offense.”

#15 Linnae Harper, Fr., G

On getting the Duke game out of their system …
“We wanted to end the year off right. Having a wonderful record of 12-1 and having the intensity and energy to end the year was important.”

On turning the corner as a freshman …
“I think it took a lot of work transitioning from high school to college. The speed is really different. I am starting to get into my groove, but also each day in practice, I am learning and trying to get adjusted.”

On how to improve free throws …
“I think it’s more about being disciplined and about getting in the gym every day. Sacrificing and committing yourself to working on your free throws will pay off in the games down the line.”

Grambling Interim Head Coach Lou Hamilton

Opening Statement…
“We have a lot of respect [for Kentucky], we knew it was going to be extremely tough for us coming in and having a good showing. We most definitely have a lot of respect for what they do and we really appreciate the opportunity to come here.”

On playing with seven players…
“We came in with seven players, we were very undermanned. We’re really proud of the players that we had, coming in with seven players and playing against one of the best teams in the country. As the interim coach, you just want to motivate the young ladies. Actually, we had a good practice here yesterday, and one of the things that we do down in our numbers, we want to have probably 10 players for conference. The biggest thing is letting them know that ‘hey, you’re all we’ve got.’ With seven players, you have to play smart, from a standpoint of fouls. You want to try to battle fatigue. The biggest thing is we most definitely want to play to win and play with motivation that we can do anything, which will give us some positive momentum going into our conference.”

On Joanna Miller going out late…
“Miller is our bread and butter player, the preseason player of the year in conference. She’s battle-tested, we’re playing her a lot of minutes, I think tonight she played 30-plus minutes. The biggest thing with her, we can’t afford for her to get down. She’s a vital part of what we do. Yes, she went down with cramps, so we most definitely wanted to get her out at the end, try to get her some rest. This was a big game for us in terms of getting what we can from it from a positive standpoint and knowing that no one in our conference is going to play at this level. So that’s really what this is about. Obviously we would have like to have done better offensively; however, 46 points against this type of defense I think is not as bad as some will think.”


 

 

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