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Matthew Mitchell Gets Ready For Missouri Thursday Night - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Matthew Mitchell Gets Ready For Missouri Thursday Night

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AP Photo/James Crisp AP Photo/James Crisp

Opening Statement …

“Tough game ahead versus Missouri. They are such a tough team, such a physical team. Love to watch them play, difficult to play against though. They are hard-nosed, aggressive. They just do so many things that I admire. They’re a really, really gritty bunch. So, that’s what jumps out at me first is just their toughness. And then really skilled players, athletic, can score the ball, really shoot the ball well and have a great inside out threat. So, they’re a difficult team to prepare for, difficult team to play against and we’ll have to work really, really hard to go earn a victory there.”

On whether there are updates on Jaida Roper …

“She’ll be a full go today. That doesn’t always mean somebody will be a full go tomorrow the way we’re going, but she’s full go today.”

On how he talks to the team about the future …

“Just trying to beat Missouri. We tried to beat LSU and didn’t. You know, like I’ve said before, I don’t have to put any stress on this group. They know we need to win games. They know we want to win at Missouri. They practiced real hard yesterday. They bounced back from a disappointing start versus LSU and came within just an eyelash of either getting that thing in overtime or winning. So, they’re working really hard and trying really hard. You know, just the way that the schedule has fallen it’s difficult, and tough teams down the stretch here. You know, it’s our schedule. So, I’m not talking to them about anything other than we need to box out better and rebound, and we better get ready for an unbelievably physical battle over there. I mean, we’ve got our hands full Thursday night and don’t have to think a whole lot more in the future. We’re still showing improvement and getting better, so all of it will take care of itself. But I’ve never been one that’s like, “Hey, if you win three of the next four.” I mean, some coaches do that, just I’ve always tried to focus on doing our best every day. So, I don’t know it’s really all that different. I can’t remember the last time I shared with them scenarios. Even when we were in the thick of championship race, I don’t know that I was really giving them real-time updates on that. It’s just not something that I do.”

On whether he takes anything away from having some big fourth-quarter rallies lately …

“Yeah, I think so. I mean, we got our doors blown off there on the first of January by Tennessee in Rupp Arena and never mounted anything close to what happened on Sunday on whatever that date was, February the fourth. So, I mean, over the month, I mean, LSU beat Tennessee by 20 points, so LSU is a really good team. Tennessee is a really good team. So, you do, unless you just want to live in the negative of the loss and just go into a place of discouragement. You have to look at it that way. We had plenty of times where it wasn’t bouncing our way and going our way and I thought we might revert back and we didn’t. Taylor Murray, for an example, one time in the third quarter I thought she was maybe going to go quiet and go passive on us and she didn’t. She was able to rise to the occasion. So, those are positive things. I think you can see the improvement of the team if you look over the last five games and the improvement in shooting and all those different categories. You know, we just for whatever reason didn’t come ready to go and that’s the frustrating part. You know, if we just could’ve had a decent first quarter we had a good shot, but it was an amazing run there at the end of the third quarter and just a tough, tough battle because we certainly weren’t stopping LSU as much as we need to, so we were answering with scores. You definitely try to build on that. I think offensively right now we’re doing some things that bode well for the future of this team. So, we just need to go down here and battle. See if we can get a win tomorrow night and that’s just where we need to be. We had a good practice yesterday. Thought the players worked hard on improving. So, yeah, I try to find and see where the improvement’s happening and you saw that on Sunday.”

On if he’s surprised by Maci Morris and what’s she’s accomplished this season …

“I don’t think I was real surprised by it. I thought she would have a good offensive year. She’s really been so tough offensively. I think she still has growth on the defensive end and boxing out and rebounding and developing that part of her game. She still hasn’t hit her cap. She’s such a hard worker, stays positive and wants to win, a competitor. She’s going to continue to grow and get better. I’m not surprised by that kid. She is a touch competitor. She came in here her freshman year and put some veterans on the bench and earned it. From day one, she’s been a competitor. I’m real proud of how much she’s progressed and how hard she’s worked. I think she’ll continue to get better.”

On Maci Morris being a more vocal leader …

“She’s working real hard at it, and I’m just real appreciative. There was a day last week when she couldn’t go, the bone bruise flared up and was so painful after the Auburn game. Maybe it was Friday we were working and she didn’t go. I can’t remember, but man, she talked the whole practice. She talked the whole practice, and that is not something that has been natural, and that is something I appreciate more than she knows. She’s working hard at that, and it’s going to help her. It’s going to help her, it’s going to help her teammates and it’s going to help our program. The thing you know about Maci is she is a great young woman who wants to win and wants to work hard to win. If she doesn’t know what to do, she’s going to be humble enough to say, ‘I don’t know what to do right here. You’re going to have to tell me.’ So, if you say, I need you to lead more, and she’s like I don’t really understand what you’re talking about, you’re going to have to lay that out for me. A lot of kids will just be like I’ll lead more, and they won’t lead. That’s what I love about Maci is she’s never too proud to take coaching or never too proud to ask a question like, man, I don’t know what you’re talking about. That gives you an opportunity as a coach to say this is what we need from you, and I’ve told her we need to hear her voice. I think what she likes to do is just show up, work hard and wonder why everyone else isn’t working as hard as she is. People are looking at her because of how hard she is working. They view her as a leader, so she has to fulfill that role for us, and she’s working hard at that. I’m real proud of the progress there.”

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