Coach Matthew Mitchell held a press conference on Friday, January 19, to preview Kentucky’s upcoming game against South Carolina. While UK Hoops has struggled this season, Coach Mitchell is looking to the future with hope, and keeping his team focused. Here are three big takeaways from his press conference:
Sunday’s game against South Carolina is going to be a big one
Kentucky’s season has been turbulent, and while a victory against the University of Florida brought the Cats’ eight game losing streak to an end, their recent loss against Vanderbilt did nothing to boost team or fan morale. But Coach Mitchell is still hoping UK Hoops will draw a big crowd to Rupp Arena on Sunday. “We’d love to get a big crowd out there, at Rupp, on Sunday to help us try to earn a victory, but it will be tough game and the team’s working hard to try to get prepared for a good South Carolina team.”
And while Coach Mitchell did not confirm whether No 4 Maci Morris or No 22 Makenzie Cann will play in the South Carolina game, he did say he was “hopeful” and that both girls had been feeling better after battling knee and foot pain.
UK Hoops takes on South Carolina at Rupp Arena on Sunday, January 21 at noon.
The team is not “quitting”
Coach Mitchell made it clear that while UK Hoops has been struggling this season, he has never once felt that the team was giving up. “I have never sensed through all the difficult times that there is quit happening.”
Instead, he pointed to the Cats inconsistent level of play, and the need to push them in the right direction. “As their coach, you just continue to fight every day to make certain they know it is not happening to them. It is difficult for a team that is really relying on people that are in such different roles. It has just not come together the way we wanted it to or expected it to.”
But Coach Mitchell is still looking forward to the future of the team, citing the South Carolina game as a big opportunity for Kentucky to turn their season around. “They practiced extremely hard yesterday and I still believe that our best basketball is in front of us.”
UK Hoops will find success this season
Coach Mitchell is under no false impressions when it comes to his team’s season, but he is looking at the rest of the season with an optimistic attitude. “This has been a challenging time and a difficult time. Anybody that would say you don’t have some doubts during that time or negative thoughts creeping into your mind, they are a better person than I am. At the end of the day, what you have to have come through is faith. I have tremendous faith that we are on the right path.”
While he is “not joyful” about the season Kentucky is having, Coach Mitchell says he understands that this is an important learning process, especially for a team so young.
“We are trying to stay the course and we will be successful with this group of players, it is just taking us some time.”