Coach Balcomb: I was really proud of how we fought down the stretch. I think we did a good job-- I thought we played we played harder in the second half than we did in the first half. But also, everything I asked them to do defensively down the stretch, they did and executed on defense, so it took a lot of pressure off our offense. We turned the ball over, we missed free throws, but then we came down and got the stops that we needed, and that keeps you in the game, every game, on the road. I was really glad we were able to execute that.
The Press: Can you talk about how hard it is when you
have a team like this for other teams to guard them, when you've got
one who does things well and another who can come pick up the slack?
Coach Balcomb: Well, I think it's very hard because
they're both good at both spots on the floor. I think if they were both
low post players, it wouldn't be as good. I think that they both work
very hard at being able to play the high and the low and being
interchangeable. And what becomes difficult is you don't know who to put on who
because if your best shot blocker inside, you want to put her on Carla,
but then the next play, she may step outside and take you off the
drive. So I think it's because of their versatility inside and out and their
ability to face up from the high post and shoot from up there is very
difficult for people to guard.
The Press: How about the players? What about in terms
of the effort and passion seemed to be there both ways. It was a very
hotly contested game. Would you agree?
Coach Balcomb: Yes, for us, we really needed this win.
We've been on a 3-game losing streak and we have won here before, so we
did have confidence coming into the game, and what you saw was our
desire to get a W.
Carla: The intensity that coach said that we needed to
have coming into this game and that confidence was definitely something
that we had to bring to the court because you need that kind of effort
to win on the road in the SEC.
The Press: How key was it that your other players
stepped when Carla got that fourth foul? They really managed to contain
Elliott even thought Kentucky wanted to go inside to her a log.
Coach Balcomb: Yeah, I think we had two key
substitutions. Nicole stepped up when Carla got in foul trouble late in the
second half and played good minutes for us in the second half, and in the
first half, Erica Grimaldi came in for Dee Davis, who has been playing 40
minutes at the point, and she stepped up and kept us together, and I
thought she did a good job of executing the offenses and getting us so
that we continued to have the lead most of the first half and not lose
The Press: Talk about the 3 pointers that Ramsey hit
that gave you guys some more cushion?
Coach Balcomb: That's something we really really need
when you have these two, and that's what we've been talking about all
year. Abi's been really unselfish to the point where she just wants to
get the ball to these two, and she knows they're good and she knows
they're shooting a very high percentage from the floor, and she knows that
people are playing her tight and trying to take away her 3. So I've
been on her about being ready to shoot whenever she has that opportunity,
and especially in the second half, I benched her quickly and told her
that we need that 3. We have to have that 3, and if you're not going to
be ready to shoot it, I'm going to put somebody else out there can.
And she really responded to that well, came back out and down the stretch
she not only took the 3's, but she made the 3's that she needed to
make. I think she really needed that confidence to hit those big shots. It
made a huge difference.
The Press: Coach and maybe players too-- it's a little
different coming in here as far as atmosphere. It's a little different
than it used to be.
Coach Balcomb: Yes, it's very different. Like I've
said to everybody, I think it's great what they done with their marketing
and being able to put people in the stands and I think everybody in the
SEC is seeing the results and is excited. I think when you do that and
you start to win, then you see a big difference. They're winning their
games at home so everybody else is pushing for those things at the
their programs and their schools, and I think it's exciting for the
conference. Yeah, it's a lot tougher to play here with the environment, but
also I think that helps our conference.
The Press: Caroline Williams got a lot of minutes and
got the start tonight. Can you talk about the factors that went into
Coach Balcomb: I just felt like she's been really
confident from 3, and what we've been talking about here, we've got two
post players that the people are really keying on and sagging on and
doubling down, and I really want to be able to spread the floor like we
were able to do last year with Hillary, and Caroline has been the most
confident from 3 as of late, in the games and in practice, she's done a
really good job, so we thought it would be important to start out that
way tonight and see how we looked, and we were able to spread the floor
and isolate these guys much more from the high and low post.
The Press: You talked about taking Abi out early in
the second half to talk to her about 3-pointers. Were there other times
tonight when you would pull players out to have a little instruction,
rather than letting them play through something?
Coach Balcomb: Yeah, you lose three in a row, you have
to make some changes, so one of the things I changed was the lineup,
and another thing I changed was when people don't do the things that
we're asking them to do, they're going to come out. And I think that's
gotta uplift the people on the bench because they know they're going to get
an opportunity, maybe not because they did well but because somebody
else did poorly or we're losing, so you've got to change the lineup,
maybe you didn't beat somebody out, it's an opportunity for you. And I
think that's going to keep everybody fresh in practice and competing hard
in practice, and I think we need that.
The Press: For the players, the way the schedule has
worked this year you've had a number of consecutive Thursday night
games, which means you're always missing your Thursday classes and you don't
have much preparation time from Thursday night to Sunday. Does seem
different to you than others years? What's it like having that kind of a
turnaround in SEC games?
Carla: I only have one year of SEC experience, but I
don't think it's that different. Your schedule's going to be hectic,
regardless, and especially come mid-season you have to be able to get done
what you need to get done in practice because you only have two
practices before the next game.
The Press: Coach, is it different for you having so
many Thursday nights in a row?
Coach Balcomb: It's not for me at all. I did express
my concerns to the SEC office as far as class with us at Vanderbilt. It
makes it difficult. Some of them have had trouble telling their
professors they're going to miss the first four classes and that puts us at an
academic disadvantage, and that's something she said that she would
look at in the future.
The two years I've been here it's been different because I like when
you're away Thursday-Sunday sometimes because then you have week to look
forward to when you don't travel. And this way, they've split it almost
consistently through the conference so next week it'll flip flop, but
that means every week you travel. I would rather travel two tames in one
week then have a whole week where you stay home. But that's just my
preference, and nobody really cares about that. But I do think that they
care about the class schedule, and that needs to be addressed. That
makes it tough for us at Vanderbilt.
The Press: You forced Kentucky into 23 turnovers,
which is really high for them this season. You talked a little bit about
your defensive intensity, but was there something in your game plan that
you thought maybe you could cause the miscues or a little difficulty
Coach Balcomb: No, we wanted to switch up defenses
like we've been and keep them off-balance and we probably threw more traps
at them than we've throw lately, and I just thought it was something
that we had done early on when we were winning. It was forcing a lot more
turnovers and I thought we needed to get a lot more aggressive and get
some easy possessions on offense. That's what we were doing early on -
creating offense off our defense, and we had stopped doing that.
The Press: How big was Caroline's block of Phillips' 3
right there at the top of the key with about a minutes left in the
Coach Balcomb: I Just think everybody in general - she
made a great play not fouling and blocking it, but I think she was
right there either way. I think we did a great job with that. Carla did
that on another play, where we were right there because we switched out on
all the screens and did not let them get any looks from 3 down the
stretch in that last minute.
The Press: You brought Erica back in in the second
half for Dee as well. Was that an instructional situation or were you just
wanting to give her a quick breather?
Coach Balcomb: It was instructional as well as
whatever else I was doing tonight, just to talk to Dee about a couple of
Women's Hoops: Kentucky postgame comments
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