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Matthew Mitchell Talks Ahead of Top-20 Match-Up with Baylor - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Matthew Mitchell Talks Ahead of Top-20 Match-Up with Baylor

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AP Photo/James Crisp AP Photo/James Crisp

Kentucky WBB News Conference

Nov. 29, 2017

Lexington, Ky. – Memorial Coliseum

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement…

“Well, before our Baylor game, I just want to congratulate Coach (Craig) Skinner and the volleyball team on winning the SEC championship and now playing in the NCAA tournament. And what a great team they have and it is so important that people understand how big a difference that you can make playing in Memorial Coliseum. So many days, there have been so many days that a big crowd has helped us and it has helped our energy and I just hope that everyone will get out and support the volleyball team because they are an amazing group of athletes. They’re a really great team and we want to see them continue to march on in the NCAA tournament. So, we really encourage all of Big Blue Nation to get out and watch our volleyball team play.

Baylor is going to be a big test for us. It is going to be a game that we need right now. It is a great time in the progression of our season to have this kind of challenge. They are extremely talented and always a hardnosed team, always great coached. They have tremendous size, speed, athleticism and this is one of the top teams in the country. So, for us to have a chance to go down and try to earn a victory on the road is a great test for our team and one that we need right now and looking forward to continuing our preparation and going down there and playing Baylor.”

On this game being a measuring stick for the national level …

“Well, this is a good measuring stick to see where we are, win or lose. We’re not where we hope we are going to be. So, it is just a great opportunity to get in against an extremely talented team on the road. It’s always a tough place to play, so that is the experience. How are we going to deal with teams with great size? They are a lot bigger than we are on the front line and in some of the positions, but we are going to see that in our league. We are going to see that with South Carolina. We are going to see that with Tennessee and we are going to see that other teams like Mississippi State. So, there are teams in our league that have really big and dominant front court players. So, we definitely have a plan to try to attack Baylor there, but you find out a lot about what will work and what might not. So, just the overall experience and a road win against a ranked team or really any team is like a piece of gold at any point in the season. So, a lot to play for, but the experience is going to be really great.”

On Alyssa Rice this season…

“Sure. She is playing well in games. She had a really good practice yesterday. She is going to have to use her head. We can’t go chest to chest. We can’t face up on those big shot blockers. You’ve got to use your skill.  You’ve got to square up. You’ve got to use your jump hooks and your skill and your mind to overcome their physical size. We don’t have anybody as big as a couple of kids on their front line. But again, Alyssa is going to have to figure that out as we move into Southeastern Conference play. So, we have a very healthy end of November and December in the non-conference to get us ready, and this is part of that schedule that we will find out what we need to do and what we need to improve and what we are doing well and hopefully we are doing more well than things we need to improve because we will have to play well. They’re a good team.”

On whether there are any updates on Tatyana Wyatt…

“Yes, a great update on Tatyana Wyatt. I probably should’ve said that right off the bat. Some of the best news I’ve heard. She’s going to go and practice today, so that’s great for our team and great for her. She clearly has the capabilities to be a real weapon for our team, so great to get her back. Tough place to reenter and play your first road game as a freshman, but it’s all good. The fact that we have her back will help us and give us a boost. So glad she can get back in practice and try to get back into the swing of things. She’s such a smart player. Just really intelligent. She’s been in non-contact drills and I’ve been really, really pleased with her ability to process information and retain information and that’s a huge help for a freshman. So, very intelligent player.”

On what some of the freshmen can get out of a big game like this…

“Well, there’s just no way you can put a price on the experience. What you do with this game, what success they have, you build on that. There’s so many things they have to learn as far as how to really take advantage of what their gifts are. They have some speed, quickness, some athleticism, some explosiveness, but they’ve never really had to use it the way that it’s required now play after play. That’s the biggest area for growth, and in this game if you don’t load your hips, and play explosive and play with some intelligence, you just run into shot blockers, they can do a number on you. So, just learning how to play. They will have more knowledge after the 40 minutes in Waco that they had before, and that’s just exactly what this last day of November and December needs to be, just continuing to learn and get better every day. And it’s the beauty of basketball, you get a game like this early in the season, if you win it, it’s a feather in your cap. If you don’t, you have the experience to learn from and by the end of the season nobody really remembers it. So, it’s a great, great time for these young players to get in against big-time post players and see what it’s all about and figure out where are their gifts and how can they shine.”

On whether he does anything differently to prepare for having five games in 11 days…

“Well, I don’t even think of it, so I don’t do anything different. I may need to do something different since you brought it up now that it’s five games in 11 days because I was just thinking we’re going to play Baylor tomorrow and we’ll need to practice real hard today. That’s a little bit of a joke there. I really don’t give a lot of thought to it. Right now, where we are it’s just trying to get better every day. So certainly we’re paying attention to where they are day to day physically and mentally. With the young players you can’t overload them mentally either. So, you just pay attention. But right now, I think clichés are used a lot because they’re so true, but we’re really focused day to day and I don’t give a lot of thought to five in 11. I’m not looking much further, I’m not really looking any further than tomorrow night. But we’ve got a day scheduled off which now puts a premium on one day of prep for Tennessee Tech. So, yeah, we have those plans, but you know, my mind is not really going to that a whole lot. It’s really been, what can we do to try to simplify the game plan for Baylor to try to go down and keep it simple and do it well and try to earn a victory.”

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