Women's Hoops: Arkansas postgame comments

After the heartbreaking 51-50 loss to Arkansas, Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb and point guard Dee Davis spoke to the media.

The Press: I know you probably don't have much to say, but we have to ask you anyway about that call at the end of the game?

Coach Balcomb: I would love to talk about it, but I can't. What disappoints me is my philosophy-I hate to see such a great game that goes to overtime decided by a call by the officials instead of by the players, and that's either way. That's the way the women's game goes a lot. We talk about it, but it continues to happen.

The Press: How was it not having Davis those last 50 seconds?

Coach Balcomb: Obvoiusly she plays every minute at point for us, so that was very important. When she got called for her last foul, leadership-wise and confidence-wise, I think that hurt us. But, again, we still had opportunities to win the game. I think that's the whole thing. We had opportunity after opportunity and didn't take it, didn't seize the moment on the road, and it's going to be costly.

The Press: Did you think that Arkansas was playing a kind of post-season desperation mood?

Coach Balcomb: I don't know-I have a lot of respect for Susie and what she does here. I think they always play hard. I think they always-last year I thought they were one of the best defensive teams in the league. We struggled scoring against them last year. I think they played extremely hard, and I think she gets a lot out of her players. I know she's had a lot of injuries, but again I knew that this would be like this. Every time I've come in here it's been like this. I think the last time we played here, we won by a point. It's SEC conference time. I don't think it's playoff time yet. I'm hoping we're better by then ourselves. But now that it's conference time, I think both teams worked very hard, and it was a good game.

The Press: You only out-rebounded them by one. Would you expect that number to be a little higher?

Coach Balcomb: Not really. We've never been a great rebounding team, no matter how big we get and part of that is that we generally shoot the ball very well. If you don't have a lot of misses, you don't have a lot of offensive rebound opportunities. We usually out-rebound our opponent, but we're a team that actually goes against the stats a lot and wins games without out-rebounding our opponent. Now tonight, when you shoot a low percentage - I didn't even look at what it was, but obviously we couldn't even make a point-blank layup - so when you shoot poorly now, it costs you because you aren't used to crashing the boards that hard, and I knew that they had 23 offensive rebounds against Mississippi State, so I expected them to crash, and that was one our keys to try to keep them off the boards.

The Press: Coach, you trailed by five at halftime, what did you talk about at halftime, and what did you think about how your team responded?

Coach Balcomb: Again, a lot of the same things that we had focused on early in the game. They got so many second shots and opportunities off their rebounds and just trying to get them to relax on offense. We were so tight on offense, not hitting people when they were open, holding on to the ball too long. I have a lot of young players on the floor. I know there were times when I had three freshmen on the floor at one time, and they've never been in a game like this of this magnitude, and like I said, just being in an SEC game, we had a lot of people making young decisions, and it was nice to see Carla and Dee play so well tonight, but we needed more help from a lot of inexperienced players.

The Press: How hard was it to regroup for overtime after a miracle shot like that?

Coach Balcomb: I actually thought our kids did a good job. I know it is hard on the road when something like that happens because then they have all the energy, but I thought our players did a nice job talking to each other and staying up. What hurt us more was Dee fouling out than that shot from halfcourt.

The Press: How do you talk to your kids in the locker room after a game like this?

Coach Balcomb: I think because we're young, you have to focus on improving and not getting all emotional and upset about it, just talking about the adjustments we could have made during the game, and some of the things that we could do a practice so that we're looser. We're just squeezing the ball. We couldn't have gotten better shots with the right people. We were just squeezing the air out of the ball, whether we passed it or shot it, or getting steals and not being willing to go take a layup. We were just too hesitant, and it's just a mentality we're going to have to work on in practice and get more gametime experience. I'd be a lot more upset if this happened in March with a young team. It's going to take some time, and I wanted to be patient, and it was really important to me that I was patient with them early in the SEC play whether we win or lose.

Next, junior point guard Dee Davis answered questions.

The Press: Dee, what kind of a look did you all have at that halfcourt shot at the end, and . . . (inaudible)

Dee: Something like that was bound to happen the way the game was going, back and forth. It was a great shot. I'm not going to take anything away from it. There's nothing else to say. It was a great shot and brought us into overtime, and we came out and didn't do everything like we should have.

The Press: How frustrating was it for you to sit on the bench and watch the rest of the game after you fouled out?

Dee: It was very frustrating to want to be leading your team on the court, and you're the point guard that's supposed to be out there leading them. It's very frustrating in that aspect, but I knew my teammates were going to be able to step up . . . on the floor, if I'm not, they've been playing with me long enough to be able to carry the same enthusiasm, the same desire to win that I do, so I didn't really have any concerns about that. I just knew I had to be on the bench and cheering them on every step of the way.

The Press: Dee, you were trailing five points at halftime. What did you all talk about during halftime and how did you feel about the adjustments that you made?

Dee: Rebounding and turnovers. We just wanted to focus more on trying to turn that around. We knew it was all work ethic, who's working harder, who wants it more, who has more heart, and we had to individually hold everybody accountable, and say "This is what we've got to do, we have to step up," and we came out on fire. We came out pushing it and setting the tempo. We just didn't come out with the victory.

The Press: At the end of a game like this, how do you handle it afterwards as one of the team's captains and coaches in the locker room afterwards?

Dee: We definitely have to make sure that the team doesn't get down on themselves and on each other. We've got to keep picking each other up. This is really early, it's the first SEC game. It's a bummer we have to lose on the first game, but all we can do is get better. We just have to take what we didn't do well in this game and get better in practice and get ready for the next game. We can't dwell on this. It's a long season to come, and we'll do fine.

The Press: Coach Balcomb said that a lot of players were tight offensively, not you necessarily, but would you say that as well?

Dee: Yes, first game jitters for the freshmen and some of the upper classmen as well, first SEC game. They're tight, they're ready to play, but they just can't get out of this zone. But first game jitters are over, so we have to put that behind us and definitely look forward to the next game.

The Press: It seemed like Carla really stepped up rebounding during OT. Did it seem like that to you?

Dee: Yes, definitely. Carla is one our best rebounders on the team, and she can do that, and in overtime she was like, "Yeah, I gotta do this in order for us to win," and she stepped up, and she handled her business on the boards.

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