VU WBB: Friday Conversation with Tom Garrick

Senior Night on Thursday turned into another close, disappointing loss for Vanderbilt. On Friday, Associate Head Coach Tom Garrick talked with VandyMania about the staff's response to the loss. He also talked about one of the bright spots of the game, the Vanderbilt debut of redshirt freshman Kristen Gaffney. Here's what he had to say.

VandyMania: I want to talk about how you approach helping the team to bounce back from another disappointing loss, something you've had to face too often recently.

Coach Garrick: Yeah, we've had a little experience with that. We need to refocus. I think we need to take a step back as a team and as a coaching staff and remember where we were a month before this and remember that we are a good team, we are a quality basketball team and that we just need to figure out how to get back to the little things and doing the small nuances that got us to 17 and 6. At some point that is still within us and we need to regain that focus.

VandyMania: To get to that point, do you spend a lot of time watching film, trying to identify what some of those little things are?

Coach Garrick: I think we've been doing that. I think we're going to try a different approach and try to take a step back and let the kids breathe. It's not doomsday. This is a chance to form some life lessons, too. Basketball is a game. It's a fun game. It's one we work really hard at as a coaching staff; it's our job, but it's also our job to help produce progressive young women. We're trying to get them to understand this doesn't make them. This doesn't define them. We are in a little bit of a downward jag right now, but you're still the same people. You can still be productive in all aspects of your life.

We're going to do our regular film session. We're going to give them some time off for their legs and do more of a mental day and try to prepare that way for Kentucky. Like I said, it's nothing that we haven't done before; it's just another way to try to press the right buttons, pull the right strings, and let the kids know that we're still in their corner.

VandyMania: Last night, Kristen Gaffney got her feet wet, her first appearance on the court in a Vanderbilt uniform.

Coach Garrick: You know, that was one of the more positive aspects of last night's game. Gaff has worked so hard and so diligently to come back and get back to her pre-surgery self. And I thought that she was one of the more positive lights last night, just in that she didn't hesitate. She showed no fear and showed a whole lot of confidence. The two shots she got – I don't I've ever cheered for two shots to be made more in my whole life, even when I was playing, because I know where that kid has been, where she has come from.

And not only that, they were quality shots within our offense, and it just gave us renewed hope that if a kid that hasn't played in two years can know where to find the quality shots, can create space enough to get those quality shots, we can all do it. So I thought was a positive night, not only for her, but for a whole team. Obviously it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, but going forward hopefully she becomes a little more integral part of what we're trying to get accomplished.

VandyMania: Being down another post player for the rest of the season, does open up a door for her?

Coach Garrick: It surely does. It surely does. Obviously we're, like you said, missing one of our key components. If she can step in and fill that role, just give us a few quality minutes like she did last night, that will be important.

Photo of Kristen Gaffney copyright 2014 by Whitney D. for Top Stories