Dec. 2, 2008
"First of all, I didn't get the opportunity after our Tennessee match
but I just want to thank our fans for showing up the way that they did the last couple
of matches. Their support has meant a lot to us. I think that support really goes
a long way for our program. On top of that, I'm just really excited about getting
the chance to host the NCAA Tournament Thursday and Friday. I think it speaks volumes
about our players and our program and the respect that we've earned over the
last few years. Some of the selection process is out of our control, but I think
what we've done is earn some respect in some people's eyes to reward
us with that opportunity. I think it is going to be a great event. I also want to
thank Mitch Barnhart and Lisa Peterson for putting the bid in to host, and giving
us this opportunity because it is a bidding process. Their support in helping us
get to this point in our program has been phenomenal. It should be a great First
and Second Rounds. Michigan, Saint Louis and Kentucky are in the top-25. I think
it is going to be a great match on Thursday (against Michigan) and hopefully we'll
have an opportunity to play again on Friday. Some of you may have heard, but I'm
really excited about our players who earned All-Conference especially Sarah Rumely
who was the Player of the Year."
On the advantages the program gains from the opportunity to host...
On some UK players facing former teammates and opponents in the tournament ...
"It is added recognition I think. I've been getting e-mails, not only
from recruits but from other coaches who are excited about what we have done so far.
Club coaches take notice of things like this. So, for recruiting I think it adds
a whole new dimension especially if we continue to draw the crowds that we have the
last couple of matches. If you're drawing over 3,000 fans you are one of the
top-five attendance programs in the country."
"One of the Michigan players (Megan Bower) was a club teammate of Lauren (Rapp)
and Sarah's (Rumely). Whenever you play against former teammates it adds a
little extra juice. I know that they'll be excited to play, and the great thing
is that they are all competitors. They have played against some of them also on different
teams. A lot of our players are from the Midwest area and Michigan also recruits
in Big Ten country. So, it's going to be fun. It's going to be an exciting
match with two power conferences in the first round of the tournament."
On how the loss to Tennessee is affecting the team ...
"I guess the most positive thing I can say about that (the loss) is that we're
all disappointed that we didn't get that win against Tennessee. We had opportunities
and we just didn't quite get it done. But, I just continue to speak about this
team's resiliency and their responding to situations. Sunday was our first
practice since then (the loss) and I hadn't really talked to too many of the
players after the match. But, they just came in on Sunday and got to work. They are
very competitive in practice. I think they're excited about what we call our
third season. We have pre-season, and then conference season and now we're
in post-season. Practice this week has been at a very high intensity level. We're
all just excited about getting a chance to get back in the gym and compete. Unfortunately
we didn't beat Tennessee, but I think we are mature enough and competitive
enough to know what is in front of us."
On the experience the team has gained from past NCAA Tournaments...
"Almost always in the NCAA Tournament you don't play somebody from your
own conference. So, you get to play against a different opponent that you haven't
studied over and over again. It's not a team that you've already played
against twice. We're going to have a game-plan and a strategy of things we're
going to try and do, but you don't know them as well as you do a conference
team. It really becomes about what we're going to do on our side of the net.
We have to play extremely aggressive. We have to play extremely passionate, alert
volleyball and just let it all out because there's no second chance. It's
the NCAA Tournament and it's one and done if you don't get that win.
I've really seen that this week in practice. Last year at practice we were
a little bit just excited to be there and to get the opportunity to play in the NCAA
Tournament. Now, I think our team understands it is about competing and giving yourself
a chance to win."
On what he does to keep his team focused for one match at a time...
"Michigan is such a good opponent that I think it would be silly to look past
them. Speaking about this (Kentucky) team in particular, it didn't matter who
we were playing this year they always seemed to be pretty intent on dealing with
what the next opponent's challenge was going to give us. Michigan presents
a very good offense. They run some nice plays. They are an experienced team at a
couple of different positions. It is going to be high-level volleyball. I can't
stress enough that I think our fans saw some good volleyball against Florida and
against Tennessee. This is going to be another similar match. It's going to
be another good opponent in Michigan."
On Sarah Rumely winning SEC Player of the Year ...
"It is a great honor for her. I think I said to someone yesterday, all of the
awards that she has have been earned. She is a tireless worker. She is extremely
committed to becoming the best player that she can be, and committing to the program.
I think she would trade that (the award) for a conference championship. She's
earned it. Her team is excited for her. The great thing about Sarah is never going
to rest on her laurels. She'll continue to work hard to continue to take this
program to new levels."
On the NCAA Tournament selecting Michigan as their first round opponent ...
"In the NCAA Tournament you never know who you are going to face. You never
know where you'll be. I think the first thing we were excited about was being
the host. There probably is only one other First and Second round site that has three
top-25 teams in it. I think it's going to be the most competitive First and
Second rounds in the field. I'm excited that I am coaching the University of
Kentucky in this First and Second round. I think that we have a lot going for us.
We're here, and Michigan is our opponent and let's just get it done."