Women's Hoops: Miami postgame comments

After Vanderbilt's 82-50 victory over Miami (Ohio), Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, j unior guard Caroline Williams and junior guard Dee Davis answered questions from the press. Here's what they had to say.

The Press: Was there a sermon today?

Coach Balcomb: There was a really long practice and film work ye sterday - and sermon. We had a long day yesterday.

The Press: What was the film work all about?

Coach Balcomb: You know how we felt after the last game, and we wanted to make sure that we didn't learn just from losses and that we learned from a win. It was really important to us to come back and play-to feel like we were coming back after a loss just because we were not happy with how we played last game. That's why I think the players really took it to heart. I know they talked a lot and were ready to play and came out 13-1 and made a big difference and just got more and more confident. But most of it had to be with being mentally ready to play today and getting off to a great start.

The Press: How was practice different?

Coach Balcomb: We only had one day, so we couldn't practice on the court really long because I don't want to over-train them, but we did practice two hours or a little more on the court and then we watched film of the last game, which we spent a lot of time breaking it down and then we talked as a team. I think the game really made an impact. Sometimes you don't have their attention after a win, you get their attention after losses, and I think we had their attention, and I think they really did take a lot of the suggestions and corrections to heart and really made some changes today, The biggest and foremost was their effort was so much better, but also their aggressiveness, assertiveness - I say all the 'A' words, aggressive, assertive, attacking - and then I run out because I didn't go to Vanderbilt, but those are three good ones.

The Press: So it was apparent to you right from the start that it had kind of sunk in?

Coach Balcomb: Absolutely. They were ready. I always talk to Chanel, my manager, and everybody in there, even our kids that are injured, they were like, we knew the feeling was better. Even in the locker room before the game t hey felt a different vibe. And so you saw two different teams. We were a totally different team than we were-and this was a good Miami team. They've been close in every game, they're well-coached. There wasn't a difference in our opponent. The re was a big difference between us. We were a different team. The opponents weren't very different, but you saw a different team today. Thank goodness!

The Press: Did the foul strategy work for Carla?

Coach Balcomb: Carla is one that needs the three A's. She got to be more aggressive, more assertive, especially on the low block and offensive rebounding. She rebounded, she wanted the ball inside, she attacked the basket more, got to the free throw line - she hadn't been getting to the free throw line. She's always been confident on the perimeter, but we needed her to get more aggress ive inside and want the ball more, and I think she did tonight.

The Press: She didn't get any fouls.

Coach Balcomb: That was the other thing. We only fouled 11 times. I think that's a record all year. Carla did not get in early foul trouble and that helped because she's been getting those quick two fouls, and she's sitting out, gets cold, and she's not gaining confidence while she's on the bench, and she becomes less aggressive because she doesn't want to foul to stay on the floor. So that was nice that she could continue to keep playing harder as the game went on because she played smart to start with.

The Press: Has Caroline become the kind of player now where a 2 2-point half isn't surprising?

Coach Balcomb: I wasn't surprised, I was just surprised that she had the looks that she had early because I know-she didn't take a bad shot all first half, and she had 22 points, and you know I'm very balanced in the shooting and we're not just going to Caroline and we're not just looking for Caroline more than anybody. But her shots were great shots. I think she saw on film that she took bad shots and forced some shots last game was one of the reasons she wasn't hitting as much. But I was surprised how many looks she had, then in the second half she didn't have those looks, but then we got to go inside. Caroline making tho se 3s opened up our inside game. I think they were really worried about our height advantage and our high low and maybe they banked on it that we wouldn't shoot as well as we did because we shot pretty poorly last game.

The Press: What happened to Cherish?

Coach Balcomb: Cherish got hot in the second half. Cherish had to play a lot of point off and on. Erica was ill today and couldn't play. That's why Erica didn't get in; she had the flu today. The doctors wouldn't let her play, so Cherish got a lot of minutes at the point, but also on the wing it was nice to see her just relax and hit some 3s and get back in her groove because she's a great 3-point shooter, but she hadn't been hitting lately, and it was good to see her get back in her groove.

The Press: Tina had only 3 shots today. Is that what you expect from her role in the offense?

Coach Balcomb: She didn't have the looks today. Another night it could be Tina with all the looks that Caroline had. It doesn't make a different in our offense. The difference is in how they play us and what they try to take a way when. One wing runs one side, and one wing runs the other, and it just depend s on whether Dee goes this way or that way. What they were giving up was the weak side guard, the skip, and it just happened that Caroline was over there more than Tina was. Tina was ballside a lot more. That's it. They were in the same spot most of the time, and it's interchangeable, and Caroline just happened to get the looks tonight. That's in man; they also played a lot of zone and - same thing. Caroline got the looks. I don't think Tina wasn't ready to shoot and didn't give up any looks, and when she was open, she took it, so that's just what happened.

The Press: In the first half you had 40 points, and Caroline, Liz and Carla had 38 of those points. Would you like to see it a little more spread out or -

Coach Balcomb: No, Caroline and Liz and Carla should be putting up points. They're three people that I think have the ability - A lot of coaches look at teams and say, "How many kids do they have on the floor that can score 20 points?", and if you've got five of them that on any given night could have 20 points, the first three that I'd look at that could score 20 points any given night should be Liz, Carla and Caroline.

Tina's going to be more of a role player learning the offense and is not going to see the same things that Caroline sees. She's going to play like she did tonight , inside and out, and just hasn't been here long enough to get those shots. And Dee as a point-my point is never going to shoot as much. We want Dee to have 20 assists not 20 points. We want her to set up other people, and that's one of the things she did really well tonight. Dee led very well and set up other people really well.

t was really obvious that Dee had us going and was cutting ahead. I know we had something like 35 points in transition. The way they do the score thing, they only count it off one pass. But in our transition, we pass to the wing and then in. That's our break, and that's our transition. That's not an offense. My staff said we scored 35 points in transition, which we haven't done all year. Most of the time we didn't have to run an offense. We were in transition, and that's the most transition points we've had all season. We watched film from last year against Miami, and that was one of our goals. We thought that we shouldn't have to run a lot of offenses tonight if we ran our break right, and we rebounded, and Dee cut up the floor really well and made good decisions and got us going and everybody did their job. We thought that was an area that we were very successful in against them last year.

The Press: You've got a big break now for finals and then a big game. How will you use that break?

Coach Balcomb: We'll use the break for the kids to get their legs fresh, their minds fresh and get away from basketball for a couple of days. Obviously they've got finals and they need to study and maybe focus on something else, then get them geared up for a big game. That won't be difficult. I think they' ll be extremely excited and motivated after a break having a team like North Carolina to play.

Coach Balcomb left, then Caroline Williams and Dee Davis took their places at the table.

The Press: Can you compare and contrast the game on Thursday to the game today?

Caroline: It's like we're completely different team really. We weren't even ourselves Thursday night, and we all knew it and were disappointed and frustrated all at the same time, but we also knew that we could bounce back. I think it was just a total different mindset and mental preparation for this game. We really let the dogs out today, that's what be basically called it. We just really prepared and knew we had to make some changes, and we did.

The Press: What kind of changes?

Dee: Having more effort, doing the little things right, always hustling, and just playing ball. We were like taking plays off and not really work ing as hard as we could. We just wanted to prove to ourselves and everybody that we can work harder when we put our minds to it, so we were making a conscious effort to be more consistent with that.

The Press: Coach used the term "playing smarter", does that have anything to do with staying out of foul trouble?

Dee: Definitely, moving our feet, not making any cheap fouls - I made two fouls in the first half, one was just stupid, I shouldn't be reaching for the ball like that, but as a team, we knew we all needed each other on the floor and we wanted to be more of a threat if we could be out on the floor together and our starting five stayed out there together for quite a bit today, which was good. We did play a lot smarter today, and as you saw, we won and we're smiling today. Definitely, we had to play a lot smarter today.

The Press: Caroline, were you anxious to get some shots up today and knock them down after not having such a great night the other night?

Caroline: I think so. I was definitely ready to play today, and not even as much for myself, but we just played terrible the other night. As soon as you get through with that game we were like, we've got to hurry up and get to the next one because we've got to make some changes. But yeah, it felt good to get out there and knowing all five of us on the floor were ready to play, and it really just helped all of us. We all hit big shots, and I think pretty much everybody on the floor was anxious to start a new game.

The Press: Caroline, were you surprised at the looks you got in the first half?

Caroline: A little bit. I guess so. But with our offense, if we set good screens and we run through plays, usually there's always somehow to get shots. I think with our offense, we just have to execute and we'll get shots. But yeah, I guess I was a little bit shocked to get some open looks, but they played zone because I guess they thought they couldn't match up with us because of our size, and when they go zone, the guards, we can see some open shots.

The Press: Dee, what did you see early in the game that they were doing defensively to get out to a 13-1 lead?

Dee: We just wanted to push in transition. It wasn't really about what they were doing to us. We were going to do it to them. We made that a point. We wanted to be more on the attack and push the ball in transition and get the guards open for shots, get the posts down there posting, you know the little things we always have to do that we harp on every game, and today it worked. We did it all. We put it all together.

The Press: How do you this maintain this mindset?

Dee: We have to rely on our teammates to keep us up. We really can't dwell on the past. That's in the past now. We really don't have to worry about that any more. This game is a confidence builder and it's going to help us. I would just say just looking ahead, we know what we want to do and we can't go backwards at all We have to be looking forwards and working hard.

The Press: You have a break for finals and then a big game. How will you spend that?

Caroline: We've got a good little break to finish up exams and kind of rest our bodies a little bit. But this is crunch time now. This is a huge game for us, and we're definitely going to be taking care of ourselves off the court, but we're really going to work hard to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for UNC because this is a really big opportunity for us. We'll be ready.

Dee: Just because we have a little time off, we aren't - we're doing little things every single day to get ready and get better. Each day we've got to get better.

The Press: Are you actually going to have a couple of days with no practice?

Dee: Official practices, yes, but that doesn't mean that we take those days completely off. We have to do cardios, weights, different things.

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