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UK Hoops Media Day Player Quotes


#0 Jennifer O’Neill, Jr., PG

On the intensity during practices…

“Everyone is getting up early and putting work in, this whole summer everyone was working hard. We’re learning a new offense right now, so it’s taking time to get adjusted because it’s new. It will benefit us because it’s changing the way we play as far as pace and not just going 100 miles per hour the whole time.”

On if it was tough to get over the end of last season…

“It’s something you always remember, but if you dwell on it you aren’t going to improve this year so there is no point in dwelling on it now.”

On the freshmen…

“They are doing really well. Linnae (Harper) is doing really well, (Makayla) Epps is working hard and Kyvin (Goodin-Rogers) is doing the same thing. The good thing about them is they mesh really well together and the fact they didn’t have to come in by themselves like Janee Thompson, is helping them a lot.”

On having a positive mindset…

“I have to make sure my mental state is right when I come to practice, as far as not getting frustrated with myself and being impatient because we’re running a new offense and I tend to get frustrated with myself. When I get frustrated then my teammates get frustrated and that isn’t benefitting anybody if I’m not controlling myself. I’m the person who has to run the team so I take full responsibility for that, but it’s definitely something I’ve been working on and I feel like I’m getting better at it.”

#3 Janee Thompson, So., PG

On the freshmen guards…

“I love both of them. I played with Linnae Harper in high school and I’ve actually been playing with her my entire life, so I’m super excited she’s here. (Makayla) Epps is a phenomenal player and she’s been pushing me and Jen (Jennifer O’Neill) to get better every day in practice. They’ve both been doing really well.”

On if she was telling the team about Harper before she arrived on campus…

“Definitely, Linnae is an amazing player and she has all types of accolades that reflect the type of player she is and I was definitely bragging before she got here.”

On what practices have been like for the backcourt…

“It’s rough sometimes because we’re adding a lot of new stuff, but with the talent we have it’s so much fun. There are all sorts of highlights and fun stuff we can do based off the amount of talent we have.”

On the possibility of playing at home in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament…

“It means a lot because our fan base is so passionate and they are so passionate about us. They bring us so much energy, so that will definitely be a plus once we start playing games here.”

#5 Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, Fr., F

On how practice has been going so far…

“It’s going pretty well so far. I’ve adjusted quicker than I thought I would. It’s tough but you just have to do what you need to do to be prepared.”

On the difference between high school and college…

“You have to be more focused and know what’s going on. You have to know what play to run and how

to run it. You always have to be prepared.”

On the difference between the 3 and 4 position in college compared to high school…

“There’s a lot more movement. There’s a lot of involvement with the 3 in the play because in high school

I just had to set down screens, pop and shoot.”

On if a certain player has helped her the most…

“I would say Jelléah (Sidney). She’s helped me since I’ve been here and she’s been very helpful.”

#10 Bernisha Pinkett, Sr., G

On the team’s goals for the season …

“We are trying to work on getting over the hump, and doing whatever we can to knock down every

opponent. We will give our best each night to try and reach our goals. The biggest mental obstacle we

all face is focus. Being able to stay focused when we play good defensive teams that try to take us out

of our offense because they think we are just a run and gun team. Our focus in tough situations is not

letting adversity affect us and being able to stick together through it are all challenges.”

On being a leader as a senior …

“With me it’s more by example. I’m not a really vocal person. I just try to give my best, and go as hard as

I can so the freshmen can watch me do what I do. As far as the physical aspect I try to lead by example.

I’m just trying to work hard to get my defense down so when the season gets going I can be one of the

major contributors on the defensive end.”

On how the team’s freshmen have integrated so far in the preseason …

“The freshmen are really good. They are still trying to get going, but I think they’re going to be a major

help to us, especially on the wing. All of them can shoot, so that’s a help behind the arc.”

#11 DeNesha Stallworth, Sr., F

On the team’s expectations…

“Everything. SEC Champions, (SEC) Tournament Champions, Final Four, National Champions. We are

trying to do it all. We have been doing really well in practice and are going to keep getting better daily.”

On her personal expectations and how her game has changed since last season…

“I am just trying to be more consistent and help out my teammates more by not taking those plays off or

taking games off. That is my main focus, consistency and working hard for my team.”

On head coach Matthew Mitchell dancing at Big Blue Madness…

“It’s crazy, but that is what he does. He is so enthusiastic and such a great entertainer. He did a great


On if she feels pressure with Coach Mitchell saying she is the most gifted player on the team...

“I don’t feel any pressure at all. When he says things like that it is something that players should believe

in. I think he is really just trying to build confidence in everybody. I will take full responsibility in doing

that and trying to get better for my team.”

#13 Bria Goss, Jr., G

On potentially playing the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Memorial Coliseum…

“I think the excitement and urgency will be 10 times more because we know what it means to us and

the fans know what it means to them. The way we play for our fans is really important, so for them to be

there for us will be very beneficial.”

On what the offense looks like at this time compared to last season…

“To begin with, we’ve all gotten in the gym a lot more. We’ll see each other in the gym all throughout

the day and sometimes late at night, whereas I didn’t really see that my first two years. Also, just being

able to break down our offense during an installation period we have during practice. The focus is really

there this year.”

On the freshmen…

“We see a lot of heart. Makayla (Epps) said it best last night at our banquet when she said she was here

to help (in any way) get us to the National Championship. That just opened my heart because if they are

here to help the seniors and the coaches then I have to be there to back them up.”

On if she sees herself as more of an emotional leader this season with A’dia Mathies gone…

“Those are some big shoes to fill because there won’t be another player like A’dia, but I think my role

needs to be more of an aggressor or attacking scorer. I just need to have the mindset going into the

game that any situation that’s thrown to me, I should be able to handle it with no pressure.”

#15 Linnae Harper, Fr., G

On her goals this season…

“Just to be a better player and a better person on and off the court. Obviously, we want a national

championship, but it takes time, day-by-day, step-by-step to get there, and I think with this group, we

have a talented group and a lot of depth. I think if we work hard and do what we have to do we’ll be


On the guard play…

“It’s pretty good, our backcourt is nice. Our backcourt can upset some games and be pretty good.”

On the depth of the guards and being deep…

“I think so, with practices going well and how fast we go with the tempo, and a hard defense, I think our

backcourt, and how much we pressure on defense, will make it easier on offense. We’ll be pretty good.”

On her bond with Makayla Epps…

“Yeah, we’re really close. We met at the McDonalds All-American game, and ever since we’ve always

stayed in contact. We always talk to each other and help each other. I think our bond is even deeper.”

#23 Samarie Walker, Sr., F/C

On how practices have gone so far …

“I’m playing more freely. I think I just let go a little bit. It’s my senior year. I have nothing to lose at this

point so why not go all out? The talent level is great. I think all of us are talented. The freshmen are

talented, but yes they are behind, which is to be expected because they’re only freshmen. The veterans

have been doing a pretty good job of keeping them ahead of the game, trying to help them out.”

On her goals for her senior season …

“I think we all want to reach the next step from the seniors down to the freshmen. It’s something we

have been talking about since I’ve been here. I think we actually have a chance to do it this year. You

never know. Of course that’s what we are thinking about but we will see how it goes.”

On focusing on offense …

“We are working a lot on our offensive execution. That’s something we struggled with last year. That is a

big reason we lost to UConn (in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight). We couldn’t execute our offense. We

are doing a great job with that this year. That’s definitely what we are focusing on. We added a few new

things, but mostly things are still the same as far as our plays. We are just working on it more. We have a

drill that’s called ‘perfect execution.’ If we don’t run it perfectly we have to get on the line and run. It is

putting things in perspective and helping us focus.”

On the team’s versatility …

“This team is very versatile. You have Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, DeNesha Stallworth and me, who can step

out on the wing. You have Azia Bishop who can shoot the three as well. Kastine Evans, Bishop and

Makayla Epps can play the post so having a versatile team helps a lot.”

#25 Makayla Epps, Fr., G

On Coach Mitchell saying she has the ability to play all five positions on the court…

“I’m a taller, stronger and larger point guard than most of the guards out here, so whoever is guarding

me is primarily going to be smaller than me. That’s what we’re looking for are mismatches and right now

I’ve been playing the one through the three positions. Coach Mitchell knows what he’s talking about, so

if he believes I can play the 4 or the 5 then I can.”

On playing the point guard position in college…

“Playing the point guard is more of a challenge than it was in high school because the talent and the

competition is so much more intense. They push me to my limit every day and I get better day by day. I

feel myself getting better. I’m so much better now than I was back in March when I played in the state

tournament. Every day they are just pushing me to get better.”

On if she will play other positions throughout the season…

“We’re a team of seven guards out of 13 players, so we are guard-heavy. I’m just going to go out there

and if he puts me at the 1, then I’m going to handle the ball and run the game, but if he puts me at the 2

or 3 then I’m going to do what I’m told to do.”

On what she has seen defensively from the team in practice…

“The defense here is way more intense than what we ever did back in high school. We primarily played

a 2-3 zone, whereas here I’m challenged to move my feet and guard my man one-on-one, so that is a big

challenge for me. I’m not the strongest defensive player, but we do defensive fundamentals every day in

here, so I’m getting better. I feel like I’m getting better.”

#32 Kastine Evans, Sr., G

On being a senior and in what ways she is stepping up to lead the team…

“Really just a mentality and having that culture on the team that we have had the last couple of years

of playing hard, always playing together and being there for each other. Just continuing that leadership

role that I have had in the past and helping the freshmen along so we can make a run like we did last


On possibly playing the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington…

“I think it is a great thing for us. If we can take care of business first and do what we have to do

throughout the season to get that No. 1 seed, which is one of our goals, then the NCAA (Tournament)

could be a good run for us especially having that home court advantage that we like to take advantage


On taking the next step to the Final Four…

“Really just (trying to improve) our offensive mentality and taking open shots and having great

offensive execution. Some of the things that some better teams have done to take us out (of the NCAA

Tournament). Some of the things that we have done over the summer and early preseason are offensive

execution and just being really consistent on the offensive end.”

On her being a leader…

“I laugh because they call me, ‘Momma Kas’. Everybody has their mom and sometimes you have to be

hard on them. That is the role that I have taken and something that I want to do. Really, I am just trying

to be that front leader and help everybody out. If they have questions they can come to me and ask. Just

being that person they can come to and being that backbone.”



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