As you may be able to tell from my post directly below this one, Kentucky plays Tennessee both tonight and tomorrow night. Tonight the women play in memorial, tomorrow the men at Rupp. Both games should be exciting as both feature two of the biggest SEC basketball programs at the moment going head to head. So, before we start the 48 hours of Glorified Volunteer beatings, read what Matthew Mitchell had to say about going against Tennessee earlier today in an interview with the SEC Digital Network.
A few snippets:
SEC Digital Network: Can you talk about how your team is playing right now? You are currently on a seven game winning streak. How would you characterize your team at this point in the season?
Matthew Mitchell: We are obviously very happy that we have been able to win seven in a row. That is tough to do in this league. So, whenever you do something like that you are playing some good basketball. I still think we are team that can improve, and during the seven game win streak we won a few of those games when we weren’t at our best, which is good news. We still have three or four weeks left in the regular season where we can improve and that is very important for us.
SEC Digital Network: Kentucky actually started off the SEC season losing its first two games, as part of a three-game losing streak during the season. How did you build from this early adversity and how did that streak affect your team?
Matthew Mitchell: We lost three games in a week, and it was a difficult week for us. We learned a lot from that. We weren’t playing good basketball, and weren’t playing well as a team. We were able to get back to basics and understand that everybody had to do their part. I think the 0-2 start certainly gave us a sense of urgency to make sure we were playing the type of basketball we are capable of playing. I think you can always learn from times of adversity and choose to make it a learning experience. Our team did that.
SEC Digital Network: When you think of Tennessee women’s basketball, with you having been a graduate assistant there, what is the first thing that comes to mind for you?
Matthew Mitchell: The first thing is just players. They do such a great job of recruiting and Coach Summitt over the past 35 years has done an unbelievable job of tracking players and getting them to come play at Tennessee. It is such a huge advantage for them, and it allows them to be ultra competitive year in and year out.
SEC Digital Network: Is there anything different about the Kentucky women’s basketball program than when you first got on campus?
Matthew Mitchell: I think over the last few years, starting with when Mickie DeMoss got the job, it has been slowly building into one of the premier places to play women’s college basketball. It has been a great two-year run here, where we have been nationally ranked. We have always had enthusiastic fans, but when you are successful it breeds even more enthusiasm. We are at a point in time now where we are able to attract top talent and get a level of exposure that hasn’t been there before.
You can read the full Q&A at the SEC digital network website, or you can just loop the video of Coach Mitchell doing the dougie over and over until the game starts, I won’t blame you either way.
Here’s to a good two days of beating Tennessee – and hoping everyone manages to keep their shirts on.