As usual, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb answered questions
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,
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
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
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,
The Press: It actually was something. I think the fans
really liked seeing it on the big board. I was just wondering what you
(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
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
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.
VU vs. Memphis post game comments
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