Matthew Mitchell Thought UK Improved In Second Game - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Matthew Mitchell Thought UK Improved In Second Game

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Opening statement…

“Proud to start off the opening weekend here in Memorial Coliseum 2-0. Gardner-Webb is so well coached and played really hard, and I know they’re going to have a fantastic season. I thought we came out and from the opening tip to the final buzzer, I thought there were some real areas where we improved. (Tierra) Huntsman is a heck of a player and all of them really spreading us out and putting us on our heels with our perimeter defense was difficult, but it was some good work for us. I thought the team responded to what we asked them to do today. A day of improvement, long way to go, we need to keep getting better, but real proud of the players for working hard over the weekend to try and improve.”

On our defense adjusting to their five out offense…

“I think you do just have to try and get a feel for the game. They were at their best early on when they were freshest execution-wise. I just wanted our players to be patient. You can lose your patience when they just kind of went five out and tried to drain the clock and then attack off the dribble. They had to have seen us have some trouble with that on Friday night. I think it was a really good game plan and smart by Coach (Rick) Reeves. He’s a great coach and so we just tried to talk about hanging in there, trying to get better with your fundamentals. I don’t think our fundamentals are good enough to where we can rely on them right now. We still are trying to get to a spot to where we can disrupt an offense with our defensive pressure. I thought they just stayed patient, moved their feet, they tried to do the things we asked them to do in the short practice we had yesterday. We ended up doing enough good things to get the victory.”

On the importance of the 19-0 run to seal the win…

“That was a big moment for us. We lost Tot (Tatyana Wyatt) in the game day practice today. Just a bang-bang freak play and so she is really, out of our post players, one of the perimeter threats that can really stretch the floor and so KeKe (McKinney) being able to slide over to the four today was big. KeKe has always been able to make 3s. She didn’t shoot a lot of them in the first game, but that is not a shot that is unfamiliar to her. That is something we really are looking for from her and so that was a really good spark to a 19-0 run.

On Maci Morris’ performance …

“I thought Maci really tried on defense and she tried to improve her box-out technique. Friday night we were just watching the ball and Sacramento State was just flying in and getting a lot of offensive boards. We challenged them yesterday. We had a short, but very intense practice yesterday and we emphasized defense and then we watched a little bit of film this morning before the game day practice and we just tried to call a few people to the carpet about their rebounding effort. We didn’t mince words with that. I thought Maci really responded, and it’s like I told her and all the team in the postgame talk. I saw a lot of people trying to use the proper rebounding technique and really sitting down and doing a good job fundamentally with that. So, happy for her. All of hers (rebounds) except for one were defensive, and that’s where we were really struggling on Friday night. We just weren’t boxing. Good for her. Proud of her and for her hustle today.”

On the Friday/Sunday turnaround…

“You can’t fix everything. So what we did was we really tried to focus in on rebounding and we felt like we worked for a little over 30 minutes on defense and the emphasis was on rebounding. We thought we could make a lot of progress in 30 minutes of focused effort there, and we did. Still not where we need to be, but better. They really improved on that, and then we tried to be disruptive and I thought for some of the game it was hard for Gardner-Webb to get into what they wanted to get into. We just tried to simplify that defensively and emphasize hustle in those two areas and it helped us out.”

On Maci Morris stepping up …

“That’s the thing. Shots are going to come and go. It’s what you’re going to do on the defensive end of the floor. Rebounding, you know anybody can run around and fire the ball up at the goal. It’s what are you doing with the overwhelming majority of the game when you don’t have the ball in your hands. It’s a very short time where you do have the ball in your hands and so how hard are you going to defend? How hard are you going to box out? How hard are you going to go after rebounds? So, I’m really proud of Maci.”

On importance of depth …

“Today, losing Tatyana (Wyatt) right before tip-off – and for us to be able to handle Gardner-Webb the way that we did – speaks a little bit to what the possibilities are for depth. We worked hard the last couple of days trying to get Makenzie (Cann) and KeKe both ready to run the four so we can go with a four-guard lineup and I think down the line that is going to be something that will help us. It was really great to see Maci and the rest of us get down on the boards and defend and leave the gym with some sense of improvement.”

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