After his appearance on KSR this morning, Matthew Mitchell went in front of the media this afternoon to address the state of the UK Hoops program. Mitchell took questions and spoke for about 45 minutes about the turmoil and turnover that’s surrounded his team in recent days, and, while it feels like there’s still a lot we don’t know about the situation, Mitchell was more forthcoming in his answers than he was on KSR. Here’s a recap.
Mitchell takes the blame for the lack of chemistry on the staff
Mitchell touched on this during his interview this morning, but it seems the problems in the program began when they lost Kyra Elzy and Matt Insell. Before Elzy left for Tennessee in 2012 and Insell for Ole Miss in 2013, Mitchell said the staff was very close; however, once they were gone and Mitchell and his wife started having kids, he admitted he wasn’t able to devote enough time to bond with his new staff.
“One of the feedback I got from the staff [after Elzy and Insell left] was we didn’t spend enough time planning practices and being together there, so I tried to learn from that. Also, Presley was born that year and I was not around as much as I normally would be with a newborn baby. That’s all on me. Something’s rolling along well and you think it’s will just going to keep rolling along well, and that’s a mistake you make.”
Mitchell said he felt as though he spent a lot of time with the new assistants this year, but for whatever reason, the chemistry just wasn’t there.
He didn’t want Williams-Jeter and Whitaker to leave
While Mitchell maintained that the decision not to renew Adeniyi Amadou’s contract was his, he said he did want Tamika Williams-Jeter and Camryn Whitaker to stay on staff.
“We did not have the kind of chemistry we needed to result in us moving forward, so I parted ways with one coach and the other two coaches had decisions to make about whether they wanted to return or not, and I was very much in favor of them returning, I wanted them to return, I tried to explain to them how it would all work together and fit together. Kyra [Elzy] was going to come back and that was the staff I would have loved to go forward with, but, you know, they had to decide what they wanted to do with their life and they decided not to come back to Kentucky. That’s an incredible turnover and tremendous upheaval and somewhere along the way, I didn’t communicate well enough for them to want to stay. That’s 100% on me and my responsibility and I need to learn the lessons from that situation and move forward in a real productive manner.”
Mitch Barnhart expressed his concerns
Considering the turnover, some fans have asked to hear from athletic director Mitch Barnhart on the situation. Mitchell admitted that Barnhart approached him and told him to get the program back in line.
“I’m so appreciative to Mitch Barnhart who has just been so helpful in his feedback with this. He’s been very candid with me about, ‘you need to do a better job in getting people in a stable situation and we cannot have this type of situation happening again.’ It’s been a three-year revolving door of staff, and that just creates tremendous upheaval.”
Mitchell added that he feels a “sense of urgency” from Barnhart on resolving the situation, but he is confident the additions to the coaching staff will make a difference.
“What we do with our staff is going to signal stability,” Mitchell said.