A few games back, Matthew Mitchell was all over star junior A'dia Mathies to start crashing the boards.
Mathies didn't say anything in reply.
"She looked over at me and grabbed her shirt," Mitchell said, tugging on his own for effect. "She's good with the sign language; she enjoys that."
Ever since the Kentucky guard scored a career-high 34 points — including the game winner in the final seconds — over Tennessee on Jan. 12, Mathies has been a moving target for opposing defenses.
She gets her jersey tugged.
She gets pushed. She gets tripped. She gets bumped on every cut.
Mitchell didn't deny that opponents are getting more physical with Mathies.
"It looks like that," he said. "It's clearly what people are trying to do. They're trying to frustrate her, they're trying to get her to guard herself because that's really the only person who can stop her unless you put two or three (on her)."
Teams have been doing everything they can to slow her down offensively and in some ways it's working.
Mathies has had just one 20-point game (against Auburn) since the win over UT, and she's averaging just nine points in that span.
She has scored in double digits in all but five games this season, but three of those have come since the seventh-ranked Cats' win over Tennessee.
"It's a lot more physical," Mathies said when asked about the defense being played on her. "If I do get the ball, there's somebody closing out and defending me quicker. ... It's a part of the game; everybody goes through it if you're deemed to be a good scorer. I just have to find other ways to contribute."
Mitchell's solution for her is quite Zen-like.
"She has a hard time sometimes dealing with acceptance," he said on Friday to preview UK's game at Tennessee on Monday night. "She just needs to accept sometimes that there is very little she can do about how the referees are going to call.
"They can't see everything that's going on. You have to trust that the officials are going to see enough of what's going on."
His other way for Mathies to continue to contribute is for her to keep shooting the ball.
In the past, Mathies' first inclination might have been to stop shooting because the shots weren't falling.
"When she goes passive and stops working, then she's done exactly what the opponent wants her to do," he said recently. "When she goes 2-for-7, those next seven attempts are when she could get going and it may kick in. You just never know when she can get hot."
One example of that was in UK's loss at Louisiana State last Sunday. Mathies missed her first seven shots before making five of her final seven to end the game. Mitchell is heartened that Mathies is still taking upward of 14 shots a game.
Mitchell tells the guard to get out of her own head and take the ball to the basket.
"It's just a tough league; it's good defenses; it's good coaching," he said when asked if she was in a slump of sorts.
"She's having a fantastic year," he continued. "She's the best player in the league and I don't think she's in a slump at all."
In fact, he argued that the three-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Week should be the league's Player of the Year, come March.
"I don't know of a player who means more to her team that's having the success that we're having," Mitchell said of Mathies, who is averaging 15.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.6 assists.
Mathies is trying to do what her coach asks.
"I can't score 30 points every night, so I need to be patient," she said. "But I just have to keep being aggressive and do what I can for my teammates."