UK Hoops Post-MTSU Press Conference

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement …
“That was a great victory for us today. I am really proud of our players and the effort they gave to earn it. Middle Tennessee is a very tough team and they are so well coached with good players. I thought they really worked hard, too. It was a tough basketball game. I was really, really pleased that we were able to get the victory.”

On playing Friday and Sunday, which is similar to the NCAA Tournament layout …
“They were two really different games, I can tell you that. We had much more of an offensive flow and did a better job offensively Friday night and sometimes those games are hard to come back from because you kind of compare the hot start we had Friday night and if you don’t get off to that kind of start (Sunday) it concerns me greatly where we would be mentally. I just asked them before the game to do it with defense today and if we got some great offense that would be a bonus. I thought that we were able to honestly, turn them over enough where we had a really good chance of winning. When you are plus-20 on turnovers, you have a really good chance to win. It was a really good weekend for us and a really good seven days for us. It was a great three-game stretch and I am really proud of the team.”

On DeNesha Stallworth’s evolution from sitting out last season …
“I have said many times that I thought she handled her transfer year really well. I thought she worked really hard and physically she was able to get herself to a different place. She was able to make a really positive change in the kind of physical player she is, to where she was coming in. There was just no way for her to get game experience, there is just nothing like it. There is nothing like being able to get that game experience and figure out how you are going to react to different things and kind of figure out where your place is to make an impact on the team. We knew we had gotten a very talented player and it is just coming to life now. Every game she is more comfortable and I think she can continue to get better, I really do. It has been wonderful to see and I am really proud of her. It is just not happening and she is showing up and it is automatic. She is putting forth great effort to do what she is doing right now. I am very pleased with DeNesha Stallworth.”

On his energy on the sidelines being more intense today compared to Friday vs. DePaul…
“Well, early in the game we made some mental errors as far as personnel went for Middle Tennessee and we let some kids score in some ways that we had really tried to work hard in preventing through scouting. This was a big mental preparation for us. We didn’t have a big physical practice. We didn’t go over their stuff a million times yesterday, but we wanted players to be locked in mentally. I thought there were a few early lapses early on. I have so much respect for Middle Tennessee and their team. To me, a 12- or 14-point lead could vanish very quickly with their ability to shot 3-point shots. I just thought while we gave really great effort to get this victory, there were times we would get (the lead) up to 16 points and thought that was OK and then they would get it down to 10-12 and that is danger zone with Middle Tennessee. That is a confident basketball team, a confident program and I just wanted to make sure our intensity stayed up to an appropriate level so we could win this game.”

On MTSU Coach Rick Insell saying they didn’t focus much on A’dia Mathies and what that says about UK’s depth …
“I think it does (speak to our depth). What is so great about having a talented team is if you spend too much time on one person, it opens it up for other people. We just beat a good basketball team by 22 and A’dia had zero points in the first half. It is a good sign that we have that. What I would like for us to do is to be able to read stuff a little bit better. I thought Middle Tennessee did a good job of taking us out of a few things so we can continue to sharpen that. It is a big four-game stretch coming for us now. It is basically a four-game season where we need to be very clear on where we are going forward. We need to win four games, but we need to get better so we are ready for SEC play. It is great devolvement when you can’t key in on A’dia Mathies. That speaks volumes for where we are as a program.”

On heading into final exams this week…
“We will go back and really try to pull all these three games together we had this week because they were quality opponents and three really different games. We just need to get on solid footing for where our identity is offensively. We need to make sure we can execute offensively when games are really tough and really close and we have to go score, I don’t feel great about that right now. I don’t feel as sure about what we would run if we just absolutely needed a bucket right now. That is a big focal point for us going forward. We have a little time here to take our breath and give the kids a couple days off so they can focus on exams. Then, without a game looming in the next couple of days, we can really try to go to work and I think sort of smooth out the edges in our offense would be important right now.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#1, A’dia Mathies, Sr., G
On teams focusing defensive pressure more to DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker than to her …
“If they can take some of the pressure off me, then I am definitely all for it. They do a great job at what they do. They feed off each other and they play great basically every game. If they can help me out in any way shape or form, then I am all for it.”

On if Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth add an extra dimension …
“Definitely. They just give us a post presence. It is really valuable. We definitely need it and they do a great job getting rebounds and just finishing baskets and being tough. It adds an extra dimension for us.”

#11, DeNesha Stallworth, Jr., C
On how much more comfortable she is now in her game …
“A lot more comfortable. Not thinking as much I think has really helped my game and just going out and playing has helped me.”

On if there was a moment when the light came on or was it a slow process…
“The light definitely came on when I had the talk with Samarie (Walker) about a couple of weeks ago.”

On MTSU’s coach saying that she is the best post player that UK has had in the last several years. …
“Thank you. I appreciate that. I just am trying to get better every day. I don’t want to settle and I have to watch film and see what I can get better at. No one is perfect. I just try to get better day-by-day.”

#13, Bria Goss, So., G
On having almost a week off for finals …
“I love this game, but it takes a lot on your body. It is nice to focus on finals. I have two on Thursday that I can focus in on and one on Friday. It will be nice to have a little break.”

On how much better the team can be…
“I don’t even think we have scratched the surface really. We are all really good players and we all can go out there and score. Coming together and being on the same page, there is a lot to improve on and we just are going to go out here and get better every day. Hopefully we will end up where we want us to be.”

About Scott Anderson

I love covering the Kentucky Wildcats and even though I can't cheer on the outside when I go to games now, I am definitely cheering on the inside. You can follow me at @SAndersonNOB on twitter.

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