The Press: Coach, the Kentucky win was nice to get off the skids, but then to come back and follow it up with today's win. Can you talk about moving in the right direction a little bit?
Coach Balcomb: I think you could tell my kids were
more confident after that game at Kentucky. We subbed more, and the subs
were ready to play, and it gave the other players a break.
I think also Ashley Earley had been just carrying the team on her
back, and we weren't playing well enough as a team in their roles and
what they give us, and we spent a lot of time watching film and
explaining roles and strengths and weaknesses individually, and I think they've
done a lot of thought and are working on those things.
Ashley the last two games hasn't had to carry the load . We've had
Carla step up and be so much more aggressive offensively. Abi's stepped up
both games and hit big three's and been more aggressive. And we've
needed that. We need more of a balance than just counting on one player
night in and night out, and I think they're all starting to give their
strength when they get out on the floor and that's what we need them to
The Press: Can you talk about Abi? During that skid
there has kind of been a focus on her not being ready to shoot, and she
comes out tonight and hits 8 of 13.
Coach Balcomb: Abi - I've figured out how to motivate
her. What's changed is when she's not low and ready to shoot, I yank
her. I've done it the last two games. She comes out, she throws a towel.
She knows exactly why she's coming out. What's nice is I'm able to put
Caroline, Cherish, other 3-point shooters in the game, and she knows
that. They're playing better, and I can afford to take her out now.
She knows why she's coming out. Next time she's low and ready, and
she's come off the bench lookimg-- she's shooting it right off the bench
after that. So I did that again tonight. She made eight 3's, and I
didn't think she shot enough. She HAS to be a threat. She has to be low and
ready to shoot it, and it hurts us if she doesn't. And if I have to
convince her of that by taking her out, I'll continue to take her out, but
she's-- even if she doesn't make it, she has to take it. It's really
important for Carla and Ashley in the things we're running right now,
because they're doing so well, and everybody's just packing it in on
The Press: Coach, it seems like that three she hit at
the buzzer at halftime gave you guys a big lift.
Coach Balcomb: Yes. And that's actually the first time
this year we've actually made a run going in at halftime. I felt really
good about that, too. We were outscoring them, it was going back and
forth, we couldn't stop them, they couldn't stop us. We were shooting 59%
from the field, they were shooting 55. They were getting more second
chance points than we were was the difference, the difference was
offensive rebounding. and that was it,
It was going back and forth, and I told them, we can't just try to
outscore this team. Last year we tried to outscore them, and we lost 83 to
90-something. And I told them, "We scored 83 points here last year and
did not win," and that we had to play defense. So actually believe it
or not, at halftime you probably didn't think that was the game plan.
But the game plan was defense tonight. So they weren't actually executing
my game plan at halftime, but to hit that shot going in at halftime
gave us a lift, a very important lift that we needed mentally.
The Press: How did you limit them to 41% in the second
Coach Balcomb: Well, we got nine stops in a row. We
got down by eight, and then we decided that we were going to have to play
defense and pick up the pressure. We came out in the second half and
even tried some junk defenses. I was willing to try anything. I'd have
tried a clump and one, but there was no "one" to clump on. We would have
tried any junk defense, and in fact we threw three difference defenses.
They scored on all those, so we went back to our bread-and-butter, to
our matchup and said, "Blank it, you've got to get back out there and
you've gotta play it the way you play it against teams that aren't good.
We were passive. We weren't pressuring the basketball. We weren't
forcing outside. We weren't forcing, period. We were hoping they wouldn't
score on us. And we weren't dictating and being aggressive like we are
against teams that aren't as good as Florida, so we needed to that and
then check out. And we pressured the basketball on the right angles so
then we got steals, Katie got a steal, Cherish got a steal, Abi got a
deflection, Dee got a deflection, and that's all because we picked up our
intensity on the ball and our angles on the ball.
And what was nice is at least at halftime I could tell them, these are
things we can fix. It's your choice whether you fix it or not. If you
fix these things, you know we can score, so obviously we didn't talk a
lot about offense at halftime. But these are the things we need to fix
on defense. If we make these changes, and you're willing to make these
changes, we'll be fine, and they did that.
The Press: Going back to Abi for a second, was the
hesitancy to shoot simply sometimes people want to be too unselfish.
Coach Balcomb: Yes. Absolutely. It's been a good
problem, and that's why I haven't been yanking her to this point. I hadn't
taken the stand that I finally took because I decided the team needed it
now. It's too important now against these teams that scout us and have
the people that they can pack it in on Ashley and Carla. And it was
really hurting us. It got to the point where it was hurting us.
And Abi is in a great place right now, and that's why it was hard for
me to do it, because Abi's gone from living and dying on her 3-point
shot to not caring about it at all, just wanting to win. She's matured as
a person, she's matured as a player, and she puts the team first and
she knows where our strength is, by God, and she's going to get it to
Ashley inside, and she's going to get it to Carla, where she's not
thinking shot first, pass second. She's become a very very good passer, and
she has the best post pass -- She's not just a shooter anymore; she's
our best post passer, so she wants to get it-- She trusts Ashley Earley
to the hilt. She thinks Ashley Earley can score on nine people in there
at 5'10. So do I.
But she's got to, at some point, make other people play her so that
will open up Ashley Earley, and tonight I think she really stepped up for
Ashley instead of just thinking, "If I pass it to her all the time I'm
stepping up for her; I'm being unselfish; I'm getting the ball to who-"
and Ashley was second in the country in field goal percentage. Abi was
like, I'm going to get it to her. That's great, but it got to the point
where it was hurting us, because Abi wasn't shooter first, passer
second, and she was a shooter first tonight, and it was fun to watch. But
you saw she started off the game with like four assists. That was Abi
making all those passes.
The Press: You did say last week, though that
sometimes she just hasn't been able to shoot because teams have made a
conscious decision to take the wings away.
Coach Balcomb: Well, I say a lot of nice things to
protect my players. (General laughter.) I'll always defend her in
front of you guys, but yeah, she can still get her shot off as you saw
tonight, if she wants to. I don't care how good a defense. Yes, teams
have done different things and face-guarded her and played her tighter
than other teams have tonight. But Carla Thomas and Ashley Earley, just
as good as they are right now, high low, they get her open, period. We
don't really have to run a lot for her. And we do run a lot of things
for her, and she was still not taking that shot. She wanted to get to the
next option to get to Ashley and Carla. She's just being the ultimate
team player, but it ended up-- It was becoming a negative. It's really
exciting to see her change that. But, yeah, Florida did sag even more
than some other people.
The Press: Is that going to be a standing policy the
rest of the season - Shoot or you're coming out?
Coach Balcomb: I think it it's working, go with it.
The Press: Is there a specific number you want her to
get or can she just shoot all night?
Coach Balcomb: She can shoot all night. Believe it or
not, it's been that way for three years. I tell people all the time, I
would love to play for me. They all have the green light. Cherish can
shoot all she wants. Caroline can shoot all that-- and they don't look
to shoot. I've never had a team-and I've had new assistant coaches
going, have you ever had kids that you're begging to shoot like this? And,
yeah, I think the more I tell them they can shoot, the less they shoot.
I want to tell them to stop shooting, they'll probably all start
shooting it. I don't know why. I encourage shooting. I love shooting the ball
from 3, as long as you're low and ready and have your feet set, you can
Your job is to be low, ready and have your feet set. That's what Abi Ramsey hadn't been doing, so she wasn't taking it. She has to do the work
before the ball gets to her. And if you don't do that work, no, I don't
want you taking it. I don't care how open you are, you're not going to
make it. And so if they do the things we work on, and they work on that
shot, and they make that shot in practice, they absolutely all can
shoot it as much as they want. Absolutely.
The Press: Does it bother you when she does come out
of the game and you do have to call a fair catch on the towel over
Coach Balcomb: No, I try to pretend I don't see it, I
don't think she even knows I see it, but I've seen two towels. I knew
it happened at the last game, and I saw it happen again, and I was like,
we got her! She's going to come out shooting when I put her back in. I
knew she would.
The Press: Two lineup decisions. After Carla went out
with her fourth foul you went with a lineup that had nobody over 6 feet
tall while ya'll make the big run. Then at the end of the game instead
of having Caroline in, you had Katie.
Coach Balcomb: Defense. It's an easy decision. Katie Antony gives us defense, gives us check out, gives us physical play.
They were very physical, very athletic, and we needed defense. Obviously
we couldn't stop them, we could score. So once Katie did a good job out
there at the post defensively, then at the end instead of going with
Caroline - she gives us the 3 but doesn't give us the defense and the
rebounding that Katie would give us, so I stayed with Katie at the other
position. So Katie played the 2,3, 4 and 5 tonight, and she did what we
needed her to do.
After Coach Balcomb left the room, senior guard Abi Ramsey, senior
forward Ashley Earley, and sophomore center Carla Thomas entered the
room for questions.
The Press: Abi, your coach says that you still do not
shoot it enough.
Abi: Oh well, yeah, I guess it's kind of been all year
that they've been getting onto me a little bit because I haven't been
getting my footwork quick enough. They finally started being mean to me.
I think at the Kentucky game they would just take me out if I didn't
take a shot, they'd just take me out and it sort of hurt my feelings.
(Laughs.) I guess tonight I knew. I looked at the basket a little
The Press: Have you been working on your towel
throwing technique at all?
Abi: Oh, man. I didn't know if anyone noticed that.
Yeah, she pulled me out fast, and I got mad and threw that towel.
The Press: Can you talk about the importance of this
win because you guys were on a skid and went to Kentucky and got off the
skid, but then to come home and solidify it and take more stuff in the
right direction. What does that do for morale and getting things turned
Ashley: Right. The win at Kentucky was huge for us. We
had been on a 3-game skid, and it wasn't a very pretty game but at that
point in time, it was a W. This game was also significant because me
and Abi have been here for four years now, and I can't really remember
the last time we beat Florida, so it meant a lot, this win. And going
into next week we have Mississippi State, and basically at this point in
the season, it was either turn it around or you're done, pretty much. So
we've made it a point to turn it around.
The Press: How much does it help you, Ashley and
Carla, in the post when somebody is lighting it up from the outside? You
were kind of emphatic about it.
Ashley: I love it. I love when Abi hits 3's and I come
across halfcourt, and she's hopping around and we slap hands. It's
awesome. It's awesome.
The Press: But it obviously opens things up for you.
Ashley: Oh yeah. It definitely does open things up,
and if they don't adjust, Abi will just drop 30 like she did tonight, and
that's fine with me. That's what we need. That's what we need, for Abi
to come out and be aggressive and have a game like she did tonight, and
maybe next time, they'll go out on her. And if they don't, maybe she'll
drop 30 again.
The Press: Abi, did you realize, was it going through
your head how many you were racking up, or was it one of those things
you don't realize that you might make a new school record?
Abi: I knew that I was kind of feeling it, I guess,
when we were down by 8 at that time in the second half, and I hit two in
a row, but, yeah, I kind of got in a zone, and they were giving me the
space to let it go, and I had the green light, so-I didn't know how
many it was until after the game, but they were giving me open looks.
The Press: Kind of the feeling like you could throw it
in the ocean and it was going in?
Abi: Yeah . . . . it was a good night, a good shooting
night. I needed one.
The Press:When you broke the record for all time
3-pointers, that was in a loss. So I imagine it made it hard to celebrate.
Breaking this record in a win today, is it easier to feel happy about
Abi: It's just always great to get a W. It's great to
break a record, but that really doesn't matter. It feels really good to
beat Florida. I've lost to them so many times, and I didn't want to
lose again. We had just come back and we had just lost two at home in
front of our crowd. It was just huge to have a great game like that in
front of our fans.
The Press: Abi, it wasn't quite "Jordanesque" when you
were hitting all those 3's but what thoughts were going through your
head when you were running back down the floor? Liike, I can't believe
this is happening . . or?
Abi: I was thinking, man, I'm real tired. (General
laughter.) I mean, really, it was just "get back on defense". I
think we got like nine stops when I was hitting shots pretty well, and
that was just huge. So the big thing was, try to get the rebound. I think
they out-rebounded us on offense the first half, so as long I played
some defense, I didn't think about offense, and everything was flowing
Ashley: I think Abi's an awesome defender, and I think
what she did tonight was focus a lot on her defense, and she got some
offense off her defense. She got a lot of confidence and went down to
the other end and started knocking some 3's down.
The Press: Abi, I guess you're a little torn when
you're in that situation. You're real tired, but you're also on a roll
offensively. You don't exactly want to come out.
Abi: It was the first time in a game where I was just
heaving at about half court, but I think coach knew that, and we were
able to switch up some defenses to where I wasn't guarding the ball from
one end to the other, and I was able to move back to the bottom. It's
just mental toughness, and that's something we work on every day in
practice, and all these other girls - Ashley played 39 minutes, too, and
battled with those posts for rebounds and got some big deflections and
rebounds in the end, so it really was a team effort.
The Press: Carla, when you picked up your 4th foul,
you had to leave the game with your team behind, but they were able to
pick you up and go on to win the game. Can you talk about how you felt
during that time?
Carla: I was excited. Going into the second half [the
focus] was getting stops and rebounding, and we made the changes, and
like Abi said, we did get nine stops in a row, and we made a row. We
stepped up when we needed, and everyone stepped up, the bench included. It
was a great feeling to see that.
The Press; Ashley, when you all went on that roll,
once Carla came off the floor, there was nobody was out there taller than
5'10. Just talk about what you all were able to do without any big
people out there.
Ashley: I think Katie was playing the four at that
time. When Katie comes in, she brings a lot of different aspects to the
game than me or Carla, the high low. Katie's a better passer than any of
us posts because she's a guard, and she can pressure the ball a little
bit more. She brought a lot of aggression there. She got some big
steals for us at the 4-spot, and I'm one who doesn't think height really
means anything. I'm a 5'10 post player in the SEC, I don't really notice
it or think about it too much, and luckily Katie is also one of those
people, she really doesn't care. She just digs down and gets stops, and
she was really good when she came in.
The Press: Abi, does being pulled out make you mad
where you really want to come back in and shoot? How do you respond to it?
Abi: Oh yeah. It made me real mad. I knew there was a
play where I had an open shot, and as soon as I didn't shoot it, she
jerked me out, and I threw that towel,and when I came back in, I knew
that was her whole point, to make me shoot. So, yeah, she knows what to do
to get me fired up.
Women's Hoops: Florida postgame comments
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