N.C. State postgame comments

After Vanderbilt's 2 76-67 loss to North Carolina State in Raleigh, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb answered questions from the media.

The Press: What do you think the biggest difference was as far as them being able to deal with your size? You guys had a size edge inside but didn't seem to take full advantage of it.

Coach Balcomb: I felt like we got the shots inside; we just didn't make them. I think we really struggled inside against their posts. We hadn't gone against big, athletic post players this year, and it really showed us things we need to work on because we got the shots we wanted in our offense and didn't convert.

The Press: Coach, when McDowell hit those four 3s in the first half, you pretty much were playing a halfcourt game at that point. How much did that affect what you wanted to do defensively? Did you have to make any adjustments that came back to bite you after that point on?

Coach Balcomb: Well, obviously we had to get out of the zone, and we had hoped to play zone much longer than we did, and we had to play more man so they ended up getting more baskets in the post than off penetration, which we knew we would have trouble with later on.

The only plus is I think we do a better job checking out in man, so that kind of countered it, because in the zone they do such a great job of crashing the boards and obviously rebounding was a big concern because they're such a great offensive rebounding team, and we wanted to control tempo, slow it down, and make them play a halfcourt game, transition D and then checkout, but then when they hit those 3s - some of them were open and some of them she just hit good shots - they were shooting the ball real well. I guess they had confidence. In the last couple of games I saw on film, they just lit it up. When you've got two great post players like that and your guards are hitting 3s, you're tough to defend.

The Press: What do you think were the biggest keys to the outcome of the game?

Coach Balcomb: The fact that we gave too many wide open 3s and the fact that we did that because defensively we didn't do a good job in our zones. Also offensively - and I don't say this very much at Vanderbilt, but we got shots and didn't make them. And our timing's different. We have to compete harder against each other obviously in practice because that's where we're going to get the size and go at each other harder so that our timing is better on our shots.

The Press: You're trailing by 10 points at the half. Then in the first five minutes of the half you get way down, 19 points, 50-31. After the timeout, you went on an 8-0 run to cut it to 11 points. What happened during and after that timeout?

Coach Balcomb: I think that's probably when we went straight man because they hit a bunch of 3s. So we picked up our pressure, which helped them to start turning the ball over, and we threw in more traps and just tried to get more aggressive. We had to get the ball back, and it made us more aggressive. And then on offense, we started to compete. We started to get mad, players got mad, and we started to compete, but we have to compete before the game's over and you're down by that much.

The Press: Coach, did this team present you with any challenges, physical or otherwise, that you hadn't see in the first six games of the season.

Coach Balcomb: Oh definitely, their post players inside. I really like their post players. We struggled with them last year. They pose a lot of problems for people because they're so athletic and strong. I know last year Whittington just killed us, so we were really concerned because they have so much strength and ability in there. So you really want to double down, and that's what everybody's been doing, and you've gotta hope that their guards miss shots. But it turned out we probably should have played more man because we did a much better job in that, but we struggled foot speed-wise guarding their guards off the dribble. So it was kind of a Catch 22 on which to play. You hope that your zone does a better job and you can play it longer.

The Press: You were able to get Whittington out of the game there with 10 minutes in the second half. Was that the stretch where you thought you were missing a lot of shots?

Coach Balcomb: Yeah. We got the ball inside and got good shots and just missed them, and we didn't go to the free throw line enough to get their posts in foul trouble. We didn't attack the basket enough, faded away, and really didn't want the ball enough and weren't aggressive enough in the post. And we've got to get better at our high low game, and playing against people that are that big and athletic because that's what the SEC's gonna bring. That's why we played this game last year right before SEC, and this game again helps us to see where we're at. Their post players are really good. I think everybody knows that.

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