Women's Hoops: Arkansas postgame comments

After Vanderbilt's 78-43 victory over the Arkansas Ladybacks, head coach Melanie Balcomb talked to the press.

The Press: Is this a team you thought you would be able to exploit inside?

Coach Balcomb: We wanted to. One thing I wanted to be careful of: Our team now knows where we're strong, and I didn't want them to just pound it in there. I told our guards you're going to have to make some shots to open up the inside because being that they're the smallest team in the conference, I knew that they would double post to post. I knew the opposite guard would sag. We worked on a lot of different things that we knew that they would take away. We knew that they would deny everything at the high post so that we couldn't go high-low, so I really concentrated on our guards not trying to - and you saw the first couple of times they were trying to pound it right in there no matter how many people were in there. But it's tough not to do because Ashley Earley can score over two players, and we have so much confidence getting her the basketball.

The Press: So you mean stay within the offense and don't worry so much about exploiting their size?

Coach Balcomb: Yeah. Actually one of our goals was to be patient and run through stuff, so that we didn't just cram it in right away where they were set and probably worked on, "We're going to double here", "We're going to drop here," "We're going to deny this." We wanted to reverse the basketball and run through things before we went inside to help take away that, and we also wanted to go inside out of transition where they weren't set to double. It's very hard to double in transition.

The Press: So was this more of a case of playing against a game rather than playing against a team? You knew you could get the ball inside any time you wanted to, so rather than just going at Arkansas, were you just working on yourself?

Coach Balcomb: Well, a lot of it was just making them--- We worked a lot more on offense because we knew that they would do things. This is a very very good defensive team. They are, I think, second in the country in steals, last year they were first. They're going to take the ball away from you, and their offense is off your turnovers, and that's what I wanted to stop. They're not a great shooting team, so I wanted to stop them getting offense. We did turn the ball over a ton, but luckily a lot of it was travels and things that they didn't get to go down and get layups off of. They had to take it out on the side and play 5-on-5. So it's not like we made passes that they picked off and went down and scored, which is what they do a lot. So we worked a lot on offense - "Well, when they take this away, what are we going to do?" "When they double here, what are we going to do?" We worked a lot on countering what they were going to take away because we knew that they would be very well prepared to defend everything we do and do different things. They wouldn't just guard us.

The Press: How many games have you been involved in when you have 24 turnovers and win by 35?

Coach Balcomb: Probably not many. But when you shoot 64% -- and there were also a lot of possessions. The best thing about this game was we got back to running and attacking, and Dee was cutting, and our posts were running middle, We showed them how we had the middle runner four times last year, and we have to get back to doing that. We've struggled doing that because we've done a lot of halfcourt because of our injuries and our lack of depth, so we haven't been able to practice full court a lot. But we did a much better job. We were fun to watch again. We were uptempo. We looked like the Vanderbilt we should look like and hadn't looked like that in the last couple of games.

The Press: How important was this for Carla after a couple of games where she wasn't as involved in the offense as she normally is?

Coach Balcomb: Well, obviously she wasn't happy with her play at Tennessee, and I liked the way she came out, very aggressive and wanting to change that and make a difference today, and that's good to see as a coach that she was ready to do that.

The Press: In your post rotation, can you talk about the factors that go into whether Nicole or Katie goes in?

Coach Balcomb: Katie's been rotating in every time first and then Nicole. Katie is a really good high post passer, and since we're best in the low block, we really want Katie in there to be able to be the high post player that we need because she can shoot it, drive and pass from up there, and it really gives us another look, and also on defense, she's very aggressive defensively, moves her feet really well, and has always helped us on the defensive end. We actually have done well with our small lineup. It hasn't hurt us, and with this team being 5'10, the way we matched up with this team, that was definitely the way I was going to go.

The Press: Is this the way you expected to come back following the loss to UT in light of the way you all played down the stretch in that game?

Coach Balcomb: I didn't know because last time we lost to Tennessee, we went down and lost to Ole Miss on the road. We got down by 16 early, and that surprised me. And yes, we fought back that whole game, and yes, I think they're a good team, and it's very tough to play down there, but we came out flat last time, and I liked the way we responded better this time. What's funny is we did less talk about it. I just could see in their eyes a different look in practice the last two days and today when we started. They were very very focused on coming back strong. And I think it also helped that we were home. Last time we lost to UT, we had to go to Ole Miss.


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