Women's Hoops: LSU postgame comments

BATON ROUGE, La. -- After Vanderbilt's 75-53 loss to the LSU Lady Tigers on Thursday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb answered questions from the press. Here's what she had to say.

The Press: How were they able to get that run early in the second half?

Coach Balcomb: The big thing was that, defenfsively, we let them. Checking out was a huge problem, and on offense, we didn't execute. They got some steals, stripped us a couple of times, but also we didn't get open for people, so they got easy transition buckets off their defense.

The Press: No Dee Davis tonight. Why didn't she play?

Coach Balcomb: She's hurt. She has a knee injury that she's had all year.

The Press: And Liz Sherwood? She only played 12 minutes.

Coach Balcomb: Lately that's about what she's been playing.

The Press: So at halftime you must have felt pretty good. What did you tell your team at halftime?

Coach Balcomb: Really we were in the game, and I liked our effort, but obviously you're trying to shut down two people, and they had all their points at half. So we really talked more about our game plan, and what we were supposed to be executing better, and not giving Augustus her shots from her favorite spots in stride, which we were giving her, and doing a better job on screens because she reads screens so well to get those open looks, and to keep Fowles off the boards. She ended up with 22 boards; she had 13 at halftime. Half of them were her own shots that we weren't checking out. And in the second half, it got worse. We didn't check her out, then gave her three point play after three point play. So you're trying to guard two kids, and you've got five kids down there, and you can't check one kid out -- that's disappointing.

The Press: Late in the game Rachel Brockman came into the game and became your leading scorer with 14 points. Can you talk about what she was doing, and in general what you were looking for from your posts?

Coach Balcomb: She was being very aggressive. She wasn't scared, and she was attacking. She was wanting the ball inside, and that's half our problem. We haven't been able to get the ball inside, and two players got the ball inside all night, and that was Nicole Jules and Rachel Brockman, and Rachel played 12 minutes and had 14 points and rebounded, and she was willing to crash the boards and was very aggressive, which we needed. So she came in and did a great job.

The Press: Throughout the game, you rotated your post players in and out more frequently than you sometimes do. Was that part of the reason?

Coach Balcomb: Yes, I was trying to get some low post game. We were very happy to take the high post shot, and we weren't hitting it, and obviously, if that's what they're giving you, there's a reason you're open. So we just kept taking the shot they were giving us instead of working harder to get the ball into the low post. I thought Nicole Jules did a great job. Nicole Jules is somebody who hasn't played here for three years, has two bad knees, and worked her butt off and did a lot of the things that we're teaching, was successful even against Sylvia Fowles, and none of our other players were able to do that.

The Press: You got a lot of minutes out of your freshmen, including Holly Rogers running the point a fair amount?

Coach Balcomb: Yeah. Cherish Stringfield has backed up Dee Davis a little bit. It's tough. Dee Davis plays 40 minutes a game, and when she can't play, and you put Cherish and you put Holly, a freshman who played in one game a little point, and she had no turnovers and Cherish had two. She got stripped twice, so I can't blame those guys for stepping into an environment like this and trying to get the basketball. Caroline Williams has to do too much. Everybody else just has to do their job on offense, and that's not what they're doing. Cherish and Holly stepped up, but nobody else seemed to want to get open.

The Press: What did you talk to your team about after the game?

Coach Balcomb: Just fighting back and having heart, and making sure that they knew that I'm going to play the players that are working hard, and that's why-- and even the run we made in the first half, Nicole and Caroline are playing their hearts out, every game, every practice, every minute, and with them we had three freshmen out there when we made our run. So we're going to play a lot of young players and get them in games like this and environments like this.

The Press: Can you talk about the crowd tonight and how it compares to other places that you've been and what it's like at home and the growth and interest in women's basketball?

Coach Balcomb: I think the crowd obviously helped a little run become a big run, and I think the crowd can really the get emotions going, and as a team if you raise your emotions, you can get to another level, and I think your crowd helps the players to do that.

The Press: Do you see that growing at other places?

Coach Balcomb: We've been at Arkansas and Florida, and they both had good crowds, too. This is my fourth year in the SEC, and the first year that I got in here, that was one of the things that I was disappointed in in the league, that a lot of programs were not drawing, and then all of a sudden, you go to Tennessee, and there are 20,000 people there. It's nice to see. I know that Kentucky last year made huge growth in their marketing, and Florida did, and at LSU, you guys have been winning so that brings people plus I think the marketing's been very very good the past couple of years. You can tell right away, even at Georgia last year, our last game of the year, they did some great marketing, so I think programs are putting some money in their marketing, and it's making a difference. And that's going to help the recruiting for the conference overall because kids want to go where there are crowds.

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