LEX 18 True Blue Coverage

Jan 16, 2013 5:28 PM

UK Women Looking For 32 In A Row At Memorial Coliseum

Kentucky takes their 16-1 record and 31 game home winning streak into friendly Memorial Coliseum Thursday at 7pm, against 8-9 Mississippi State.

Matthew Mitchell talked about the game Wednesday afternoon.

"We are awfully excited to be back in Memorial Coliseum tomorrow night. We have had great, energetic crowds. We really appreciate our fan's dedication and loyalty coming out to these games and we'll need another big, energetic crowd tomorrow night because we are playing a very aggressive, tough, hard-nosed, defensive team in Mississippi State. We have a lot of respect for them. They have some really good players so it will be a great challenge tomorrow night. It's really great that we are going to be at home. We are looking forward to getting back into Memorial and seeing if we can earn another victory."

On if he is satisfied with the team's recent stretch of games...
"I have been really pleased with how we have hustled to get to 4-0 in the league. We couldn't be in a better position than that. What this time of year is all about is trying to take it one game at a time and really put everything you have into the preparation for each and every game and seeing how many victories you can stack up in that win column. They have done a really good job of that. Last week, on Thursday and Sunday, I thought we hustled in both games for 40 minutes. That's something we have asked our players to do, so I am really pleased with that. From game-to-game there are some areas that need to be improved and do things a little bit better, but as a whole, I am really happy with where the team is and they continue to come in each day and practice really hard and I think that's going to be the key for this team."

On what kind of challenges Mississippi State offers...
"They are very aggressive defensively and they try and take you out of what you want to do. They're really aggressive in the passing lanes and will deny the basketball. It disrupts your offense. They have two All-SEC caliber players right now that are both sophomores who are really good young players in Kendra Grant and Martha Alwal. Martha's averaging a double-double right now in league play and just very productive. She has very great size, long arms, a great jumper, a good shot blocker and can really cause you problems around the rim. Grant is shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line in league play. She is explosive with good size for her as a guard. They have a bunch of hard-nosed, tough players. Defensively, Mississippi State really gets after you so we will have to pay great attention to how we space the floor and take care of the ball. They can certainly turn you over so it will be another good SEC test. It will be a very physical game I think. It will be up-tempo and we will need to be ready."

On his assessment of the bench play during conference play so far...
"I think we are doing a good job of coming off the bench and playing with great energy. I would like a little more production scoring the basketball from the bench. I think Bernisha Pinkett is poised for a good game in the coming weeks. She is practicing better. I think she is getting some confidence back. I think her confidence was down there for a little while. She has really practiced a lot better and I saw some really encouraging signs from her in the Missouri game. With Bernisha, I don't think she has played nearly as well as she is capable of. I think that gives us another guard that can be in the mix and really be productive on both ends of the floor. Overall, the bench has given us great energy. I would like to see more scoring and a little bit more production. It serves us well as we move through the league."

On if this is more of a traditional team compared to recent years past...
"It's more traditional. I still don't think we play a traditional style, so you can't have an immobile post player that can't defend, run the floor or get the ball in quickly. But it is more traditional no doubt. For so many years what we had was really four guards and an undersized post, so this is much closer to maybe what I started out envisioning when I first got in Kentucky. We had a very traditional approach to recruiting. We were trying to find big power post players. So this is closer to that, but we still have that dimension of athleticism with Samarie and DeNesha that is not as traditional as maybe some of the teams we have had here in the past. It is closer, but I still like our ability to disrupt other teams and you really need mobile post players that can get out on the floor and defend and they can truly do that in my mind."

On if the team is pressing less this year...
"We have trapped less there is no question about it. As a coach I need to figure that out and we're working with that some. We are going to try and do a better job. We've had some people in the post position like a Victoria Dunlap, Amani Franklin and Lydia Watkins who were so comfortable rotating and who weren't afraid to leave because they weren't traditional post players. I think Samarie and DeNesha both probably grew up being told how they were supposed to play. I do think there is reluctance sometimes. It hasn't clicked quite as well from a full-court trapping standpoint. We are still very good defensively as far as disrupting you and applying pressure and making it tough on you to score. We just used to have to turn you over a million times and shoot a bunch of layups to win. I thought we hustled for 40 minutes in Columbia on Sunday, but we only turned them over 15 times. In my mind that was one of the toughest defensive efforts we have had in the last four years. It's a little different and I don't think the players are as comfortable as we have been in the past with the full court press."

On not necessarily having to rely on defense and rebounding to win games...
"What we found as we progressed deeper into the season was that we would run into teams that could handle the pressure and could put some pressure on you. Then it became a situation on who could score. Oklahoma did that to us in the Elite Eight. They were able to score that day and we weren't. We couldn't turn them over and score off turnovers. The same thing happened with Connecticut in the Elite Eight. So I think that hopefully we are built a little bit better for a deeper run because this group is very talented offensively. We are still getting better. I thought we got better in practice yesterday. I thought we learned some things in practice and a couple things clicked yesterday that are going to be valuable for us later in the season if we can keep it going. I would like to have a good mix of both. I would like to be able to turn people over when that is necessary. I would also like to be able to get into something and score and go to people that we know can score. We are a good team and certainly have a lot of weapons."

On trying to make the team tougher/adjusting to how tough the team has gotten...
"This was about getting them to have the right mindset in the league; they're just going to have to be ferocious and aggressive on defense. And if we want to be the best that we can be, everyone is going to have to have that mindset. This team has the talent and the gifts to make that happen. My job right now is just trying to give them something to think about as far as defensive intensity."

On playing time and the starting lineup...
"We handle all of that in practice. When we started in September, the individual workouts for every position on the floor were very similar. There were some modifications but everyone had the chance to show us what they could do and compete against each other. There were no predetermined lineups. That just develops in practice. I don't think I have a lot to do with it outside evaluating what's going on. So that helps us out as far as people complaining; which we don't allow. If a player has a concern they just come and talk to me and we look at the tape and figure it out. Also with how we play, the players know they have to be ready and that if their number gets called, if they do they'll get more playing time."

On the caliber of players here...
"We're just fortunate to have some really great kids come to Kentucky. I don't take that for granted. We just try and put our best foot forward and find high character players here that want to work hard. I'm very happy about that."

On Azia Bishop's health...
"She is progressing but I don't know that she'll play tomorrow night, or Sunday either. But I'd love to have her back for South Carolina. She'd have to really look great in practice for me to put her in. If she did come back, she'd have to play with an air cast but she has progressed very well and we're looking forward to having her back healthy."

On the importance of home wins...
"It is very important to win at home because it's so tough on the road. We need to play well and work hard. Tomorrow night we need a victory. We have six more games at home and we're going to try and win all of them. What's been great for us is that we've had energetic crowds that have helped us out. We hope that people keep coming out because this is a really great team and the players have worked really hard to get to this position."

»Comments

More News

Sports
Story Photo

11 hours ago

Jodie Meeks Set To Graduate

According to Lakers reporter, Mike Trudell, former UK Basketball player, Jodie Meeks, will graduate from Kentucky on May 10th with a marketing...

Most Popular

Top Videos

1 2 3 4