The Press: Coach, coming into this game, what were you most concerned about?
Coach Balcomb: Rebounding. Checking out. In SEC stats,
they were #1 in the conference in offensive rebounding, and we were
last. We were 12th. So that was a huge concern of ours, so we worked a lot
on check out this week, and just rebounding the basketball on offense
and defense. We didn't want to get dominated there.
The Press: Carla obviously got in foul trouble early,
and in the second half she made a big difference.
Coach Balcomb: Yeah, she kept her focus, and I saved
her. She's been in foul trouble a lot, so I decided we were going to
really need her down the stretch in a big game, and that allowed her also
to play aggressive in the second half, and as long as we had the lead
or were going to be right in there at halftime, it allowed me to keep
her out of the game and save her for the second half so she could be
aggressive. I thought down the stretch she really stepped up and wanted the
basketball, and we just made her the go-to inside, and I just loved her
The Press: They tied the game up in the second half,
and then I think there were four or five trips where they could have
gotten a lead, but your defense kind of stepped it up a little bit.
Coach Balcomb: Yeah. We called a timeout and really
just focused again on defense and getting stops. We've got an offense
which plays in spurts, so they had made some runs defensively and we
started exchanging baskets and so we just focused on getting stops again,
talking about our defense and our rebounding.
The Press: Your next game is a little bit of a big one
for you guys. What's going to be your focus going into the Tennessee
Coach Balcomb: I think a lot of it is just attitude
and confidence. They know what we do, and we know what they do. We just
have to be ready and confident to play and getting a win on the road --
this is our first road win in the SEC -- at least we're going in with
some confidence, and I thought we were ready to play today. We weren't
ready to play at Arkansas; we got off to a slow start. I just like how
we out-worked and hustled, and that's what we're going to focus on and
not getting beat on hustle plays, and just working to stay in the game.
Because if you work that hard, as hard as we did today, you'll be in
The Press: Were you at all concerned that maybe their
focus wouldn't be there just because Tennessee is such a monumental
Coach Balcomb: No, not at all. Tennessee is in the
SEC, and we're really focused on the conference as a whole and every game
is very important to us, like any other team. We focus on the next
game. You don't have any mental breaks, and I think our Arkansas game
really made an impact on my kids, and I think we've made a lot of changes
since then, and we just have to keep going in that direction.
The Press: You had a lot of minutes from your
freshmen going down the stretch. From the time the game was tied, you had two
freshmen on the floor [Tina Wirth and Holly Rogers] almost the entire
Coach Balcomb: Yeah. Holly's just playing with such
great confidence, making good decisions. She's not afraid to handle the
basketball under pressure. She stepped up and hit two free throws. And
Tina came in, and she's very confident in her outside perimeter
shooting, and they had been doubling in the post, with Liz and Carla and Nicole
being so deadly inside, they had been doubling and leaving the high
post, the trail and the 3 open, so that really spread the defense out, and
it gave Tina a lot of looks on the perimeter, which she can knock down,
and she was hitting them with confidence, so I wanted to keep her in
The Press: You were talking about Carla in the second
half, and you had Dee . . .
Coach Balcomb: . . . and Dee in the first half. And I
like that. It's been three games where we really depend on those two
juniors, and I think they've stepped up in all three SEC games and been
consistent and have done the things that we need them to do. We're going
to have freshmen -- Liz is like a freshman, this is her first year and
she's playing a lot of minutes -- so we have a lot of new people on the
floor in key situations, and we have to count on Dee and Carla, and I
like how they've played in first three games. The other ones are going
to be -- one night it's going to be somebody, the next night it's going
to be somebody else. We just have to keep them consistent, and I like
what they've been doing in SEC play.
The Press: Only eight turnovers.
Coach Balcomb: Yeah, that was a really big key, and
what happened was we handled the doubles better than we have. We've had
too many turnovers because our post players have been a big part of our
turnovers, and not handling the double team, 3 seconds, and offensive
fouls, and we didn't have any of those things tonight. We handled the
double teams, we didn't draw any offensive fouls in the post, and we
didn't get any 3-seconds, so that cuts our turnovers in half. We've been
really struggling, and so I'm really pleased with the post players making
The Press: Have you been working specifically on those
things in practice?
Coach Balcomb: I hope so! (Laughs.) If they're
causing turnovers, we better work on them!
Coach Balcomb left the room, and junior guards Dee Davis and
Caroline Williams came in for questions.
The Press: What were you concerned about coming into
Caroline: Rebounding. That was our biggest concern
because that they are #1 in the conference in offensive rebounding, and
our game plan was if we check out, if we stop their offensive rebounding,
we definitely have a chance, a really good chance, to win the game, so
that was our key.
The Press: Caroline, you hit three 3's in the first
half. After that, were they covering you pretty closely?
Caroline: Yeah, some, but I guess I could have-- I had
some open shots, but we were really trying to focus in the second half
on running through the offense and really getting shots that were
really high percentage shots. So in the second half, that's what we were
most focusing on.
The Press: You had the lead, then they come back to
tie it up. It looked like from that point on, you turned the defense it.
There were a couple of points where they could have gone ahead. Was
that a focus of yours?
Caroline: For sure. They got some run outs, where it
seemed like we just couldn't stop them. They were kicking the ball up
the floor, and that's what we tried to really key in on in our timeout
where they had that run, and we had to pick up our defense. We had to
pick up the ball pressure, picking up the ball and then finding their
shooters. Yeah, we definitely turned it up on defense, and that's what
The Press: How did you guys stay composed through
Caroline: I think it's knowing that if we just get
back down to the basics, we're fine. Like, yeah, they went on a little
run, but we know that it's all about we have to check out and take good
shots, and we'll be fine, and I think we just got back to it instead of
freaking out and getting all scared. We just settled down and got back
to what we'd been doing the whole game.
The Press: Was there any concern about looking ahead
to Tennessee? Was this game as important as that one?
Caroline: Oh yeah. Every game in the SEC is just as
important as the next, and we have to win on the road, and this game was
huge. We definitely weren't even thinking about Tennessee. Now we can
start preparing. We definitely took South Carolina as a really tough
team that's playing at home, where it's really tough to win. It's
definitely an SEC game on the road.
The Press: Dee, Carla didn't play much in the first
half because of two quick fouls. What does she add to your team when
she's back in the game?
Dee: Post dominance. She's really good in the post. We
count on her to score, block shots, be a defensive stopper. She's a
good leader on the floor as well. It's good to have her in the paint. You
don't have to worry about getting beat and somebody scoring on you
because Carla will be there to block the shot. She's a great presence on
The Press: In the first half when she wasn't in, you
kind of pushed things yourself, and then in the second half when Liz and
some of your big girls were in there, you were able to dump it down to
them and let them handle the scoring load. Is that how you saw it?
Dee: To some extent. You see an opening and you take
it. My number one goal out there was to attack and be on the attack and
to get my teammates involved when they're open. If I see a driving
lane, I'm going to take it. So I just realized that a lot of time that the
posts were guarding me, and I'd just take it to the hole. But mainly
when I'm out there, I can count on my big players in the post, and I'm
more than happy to dump it to them.
The Press: Coach was saying that she was pleased with
the variety that you guys show; one game somebody's going to step up
and do this and in the next game it might be somebody else. You're a team
with a lot of parts that can make things happen.
Dee: Definitely, because we have young players who are
stepping up. They stepped up early, and they're being more consistent
as games go on, and our upperclassmen are still doing our parts, too.
But some nights, everybody's on top of their game like they should be,
but we can always count on somebody on the floor to step up for you.
The Press: Second half down the stretch there were a
couple of possessions where Carla hit a shot almost at the end of the
shot clock. Is that how you planned it?
Dee: When you have the lead and it's getting late in
the game, you want to use more of the clock. We knew that Carla was
going to score. She's game time. If the game's almost over, she's going to
do whatever she can to make sure we come out with the W. If it was Liz,
or if it was Caroline posting down there, I'd expect them to do the
The Press: How much energy now do you put into
Tennessee? Obviously, it's a big game in your state and a rivalry game.
Dee: Well, we're going to take it as any other game.
Every SEC game counts, and it's really tough and we're going to take it
as it comes. We're not going to focus on them to the point that that's
the ultimate game. We have games after that, too. We're just going to
play our game and hopefully come out with the W.
The Press: As you're going around campus the week of
the Tennessee game, do you hear more comments around campus about it?
Caroline: Maybe a little bit more than other games,
just because it's a rival, but maybe not to the extent that it's much of
a difference. But everybody knows it's an SEC game like any other, but,
yeah, everybody wants to beat Tennessee, everybody wants to win the
SEC, so we're going to go after it just like any other game.
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