VU vs. Memphis post game comments

After the win over Memphis, Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb and selected players met with the press.

Post-Game Comments

As usual, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb answered questions first..

The Press: Jenn Hall wasn't on the bench tonight?

Coach Balcomb: She's out for medical reasons.

The Press: Was that one of your better defensive efforts tonight - 30% shooting, forcing 29 turnovers?

Coach Balcomb: I think our defensive intensity actually got better in the second half. The start of the first half, they threw a lot of long passes in transition that we weren't ready for. We lost a couple of cutters behind the matchup; we weren't ready for them. We were kind of exchanging baskets. But I thought we did a good job at halftime, coming out with that lead, came out and got three turnovers right away, so any momentum that they wanted to have in the second half, I thought we did a great job of defense.

But overall, I'm really pleased with our defense. That's why you've seen the point spreads that you've seen, and I think it takes a lot of pressure off our offense. We don't have to execute perfectly each time, and it helps us to relax on offense when you have that confidence that you can get stops on defense.

The Press: Speaking of offensive execution, when Dee got fouled and was going down while shooting, was that a magical moment, or what?

Coach Balcomb: No, I was just concerned because it was such a hard hit. In a game like that, you don't want it to get out of control, and you don't want somebody to get hurt. So I'm just happy she didn't get hurt in that situation.

The Press: Is that a play you point to when you say that she's physically stronger than last year? Last year she was avoiding contact.

Coach Balcomb: Yeah. She didn't avoid contact there. She's actually using her body to protect and drawing fouls going in, instead of avoiding contact and leaving too soon. She used to leave from the free throw line and just float and try to get away from people. But she's physically stronger and very tough right now. And, yes, that is a sign of her growth of tougnness, and it's good to see. It didn't seem to faze her at all.

The Press: She seemed to have that corner picked out. Usually she's been taking her shots from the top of the key. Was that something that you saw that would be open against them?

Coach Balcomb: Actually, the posts are doing a better job of reading that. They're getting doubled, and we work on them kicking the ball to the corner and being low. It takes a couple of games before they're ready for that double and to take advantage of that double, and as you saw, we went to the weak side and hit the corner and also hit the other post cutting, and those are the things we work on. If you can do that, then they can't continue to double, especially if you get that 3 from Dee on the weak side, and then they'd let Ashley Earley work in the post one-on-one. So that really opened things up by her hitting some 3's early. As you can see, she's really worked on her shot, so that is going to help us a lot, because that's where people doubled last year, from the weak side, the post and the point guard.

The Press: When you say Jenn is out for medical reasons, is that injury or illness?

Coach Balcomb: I can't say that. I can't because of the privacy act. I can't tell you what it's about. You'd have to ask the training room.

The Press: Can they tell us?

Coach Balcomb: I don't know. You'd have to talk to them. They just said, tell them to ask them what it is.

The Press: Did you feel like it got a little sloppy late, and if it did, was as that as much as Memphis as us?

Coach Balcomb: I didn't think it got as sloppy as it could have. I think these doubleheaders has really helped us. We got a lot of players off the bench to get a lot of experience with a point spread, yet there's a big crowd. It's kept competitive that way, and it doesn't get so ugly. I think that's one of the advantages of this situation, where you have a crowd that's into it when they come to the game, and I think that's helped us to maintain the intensity, and I liked how our subs continued to execute and continued to defend, and we didn't lose anything when we subbed, and that was nice. And I think it gives them confidence that they can guard and that they can execute. Hopefully they'll build on that because we're going to need them.

The Press: Did you see anything in particular in this game that you need to focus on in practice?

Coach Balcomb: From this game? I think we need to work on handling traps better. This is the first team that's trapped us, and we didn't look ready although we prepared for it. So we need to be ready for people to trap us. This is the first team that really got aggressive and trapped us a lot, and I think that's one of the things we definitely will be looking at and working on.

The Press: I know that Jenn Hall's absence is a factor in this, but Nicole Jules giving you significant minutes off the bench and contributing positively has got to be a good thing. That's different from last year. Can you address that a little bit?

Coach Balcomb: Yeah, I think Nicole has been working hard in practice, and I think she's been getting good results these last couple of games. With the rotation she got more minutes tonight, and when she produces that does build her confidence and we sure could use that. Nicole does a good job defensively. Usually when I do sub her, it's for defense, and I think she's looking for her post up and opportunities on offense more and doing a good job.

The Press: It was a nice offensive game for Katie [Antony]. Can you talk about that?

Coach Balcomb: I was just talking to Katie because we need our 3-guard to rebound, and what Katie did was in the second half she got on the offensive boards, so that's a huge positive right there. She has been checking out and rebounding. She works tremendously defensively for us, covers the entire court in our matchup. She just works really really hard. She's one of the hardest workers I've ever coached - that's why I play her so much. Offensively, I think she got some easy baskets off of putbacks and things that we need out of our 3-guard. And she doesn't care if she scores. She's a team player, a program kid, so I like to see her get in there and get some buckets and get some confidence that she can rebound with people on the offensive end as well as the defensive end.

Coach Balcomb left the room, then sophomore point guard Dee Davis, junior post Nicole Jules, sophomore guard Katie Antony, and senior post Ashley Earley took their places at the table for questions.

The Press: Dee, I think with the four 3's tonight, you matched last year's season total for made three-pointers. Can you talk about being more comfortable with your perimeter shot and that kind of thing so far?

Dee: I made a goal for myself this year to be more aggressive scoring-wise, and it seems like with respect to the shot, I have to take it.

The Press: Katie, can you talk about making an effort inm the second half to crash the offensive boards? Is that something you've been working on?

Katie: Yes, that's definitely been a focus for the whole team is crashing the offensive boards and getting down there and trying help the posts out a little bit.

The Press: Dee, midway through the second half you got a hard foul and went down, and you were going back shooting. Do you want to talk about that?

Dee: That was nothing. I'd rather not talk about that, please.

The Press: It actually was something. I think the fans really liked seeing it on the big board. I was just wondering what you were shooting.

(All players laugh.)

Dee: I wasn't shooting! I was pointing! "Foul on you", I don't know. (Laughter.) I don't know. Sorry. (More laughter.)

The Press: Ashley, you were finding Dee in the corner. Was that the first time you've done that this year?

Ashley: No, no.

Dee: Consecutively, yes. (Laughter.)

Ashley: That's actually part of our offense. . . .They kept doubling, so I kept drop-stepping baseline, and Dee was open and she kept hitting it, so I kept getting her the ball.

The Press: Ashley, was this one of the better defensive efforts of the year, holding them to 30% shooting. Can you talk about being able to maintain that defensive intensity throughout the game?

Ashley: That's one of our focus coming into the season. Actually, the back of our practice jerseys say, "Whatever it takes," and that kind of goes along with our focus for this year - defense. The past two seasons, our season has ended without a defensive stop. And it's good that you guys are seeing improvements with that because we plan to get better.

The Press: So Ashley, are you all more pleased with the defense you're playing now or with the offense? You just fell short of your third 100-point game.

Ashley: I think our defense. Still, we have a lot of improving to do with out defense, but because we're putting on so much pressure and teams are turning the ball over, we're scoring off of those. I think a lot of our points were in transition, and that's attributed to our pressure on defense. I think most teams are averaging around 30 turnovers against us anyway.

The Press: Nicole, can you talk about being able to contribute more this year than you had last year with injuries? How does the knee hold up for you? How is that situation?

Nicole: I think the biggest thing this year is that we've had it more under control. It's a lot stronger this year. Last year coming off of surgery the summer before, it just didn't have time to fully get strengthened. So I think that's the biggest thing this year was over the summer focusing on getting it as strong as possible, and then for me in practice to do as much as possible without aggravating it. So, go as hard as you can, and when the time comes, you kind of know when you need to start pulling back a little bit.

The Press: What kind of symptoms are you still dealing with? Does it swell after practice?

Nicole: It can. There's a certain amount of time that I'm supposed to go each day, so if I go too long on it, it will swell overnight, but we've been trying to the swelling under control. Our trainers have been doing a lot to help me keep in under control. That way I will be able to contribute.

The Press: What part of the game, offensively, defensively, do you notice it the most?

Nicole: I really couldn't tell you. It's just pretty much as it comes. Usually if it starts to bother me on one end, it'll probably end up bothering me on the other.

The Press: Katie, it looked like the points were coming from every where. Can you talk about being able to contribute on the offensive end?

Katie: Well, lately, Coach has been kind of getting onto us to make sure that we get on the boards, and my main focus was, like I said earlier, trying to get some points in the paint as well as being a guard shooting a 3-pointer, just to go in there and help the posts to get a rebound or two as much as I can.

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