Balcomb is no stranger to Vanderbilt fans. In the 2000-01 season, Vanderbilt traveled to Cincinnati for the opening game of the season for both teams at the brand new Cintas Center on the Xavier campus, losing 64-60. In 2001-02, Xavier completed the home-home series with a trip to Memorial Gym, where Vanderbilt prevailed 78-56.
During her tenure at Xavier, her teams were known for an offensive philosophy of pushing the ball upcourt for a quick three-point shot, then settling into a halfcourt offense if the shot wasn't there. The Cincinnati Enquirer has described her style as a combination of the fast and the slow:
The fast: Balcomb was an assistant at Providence from 1990-93, just after Rick Pitino had led that school's men's team to the 1987 Final Four with an up-tempo style. Her first year there, the Lady Friars led the nation in scoring, with an average of 97 points a game.
The slow: Balcomb's father, Alan, spent four years with the Princeton men as an assistant to Pete Carril, who made high art of the half-court offense.
"It's like a chess game to me," Balcomb said. "Every time I watch games, I steal plays."
Xavier has also been known for sound fundamentals with a disciplined and unselfish philosophy. Nancy Cross, the associate athletic director at Purdue who scouted Xavier during the 2001 NCAA regionals, said after the Musketeers defeated the Lady Vols:
"I was impressed with her decorum. I had not seen her coach before or see her team play. They were incredibly fundamental. I was impressed with how hard they work. Her kids played very smart, in terms of whatever Tennessee gave them. Never got rattled. They obviously have a tremendous amount of respect for Melanie. That was not an upset yesterday."
Prior to Xavier, Balcomb spent two seasons as the head coach and a total of eight years as an assistant coach at Providence College, Ohio University, and Niagara. She received her bachelor's degree from Trenton State University in 1984 and earned a master's degree in 1985. She will celebrate her 40th birthday in September.