Women's Hoops: Practice Smorgasbord

The Vanderbilt women's basketball squad conducted its fourth practice session on Monday afternoon and VandyMania was there. Here is audio, video, text and photos from the practice.

Audio: Click on the link below to listen to Vanderbilt women's basketball head coach Melanie Balcomb discuss Monday's practice session:

VIDEO: Caroline hits the 3!

Click on the link below to view video of Caroline's 3-point shot in pratice:

Practice Photos

Interview with Melanie Balcomb

(Interview by Whitney D.)

Before the women's basketball held their first official team practice of the season on Friday night, VandyMania's Whitney D talked with Head Coach Melanie Balcomb about the team's needs for the season. Here's what she had to say.

VandyMania: Coming into the season, what do you see as the team's strength, and what are the big questions you're looking for answers for?

Coach Balcomb: I think our strengths and weaknesses are yet to be determined, because this is a new team, and you don't know what it's going to be. I can tell you what our weaknesses were last year -- our transition game and our transition defense.

So we need to run the floor better on both ends, offense and defense. We need to get a middle runner so we can get better shots, not just in the post and layups, but sucking the defense in to get our 3s in transition. We need to get 10 or 12 more points in transition. We were not a good running team last year.

We've got to do a better job in transition defense as well. If you're not running the floor back in defense then you'll struggle in transition D, and we also need to do a better job of not just getting our post players back, but picking up the ball and slowing it down.

The third thing is rebounding. We need to rebound better, especially offensively

Those three things, when we were good since I've been here, we had them. If you do it numbers-wise, a lot of times last year, we were playing like a 1, 2, 2, and a 5 and a 5. So what we need is a 3 and a 4 to step up. We need a 3 that is more like a Hillary Hager type that can rebound and get to the rim, and we need a 4 like Ashley Earley that is going to run the floor and rebound, both offensively and defensively. We've missed that. So we need to do a better job in the middle of the team.

What I think we'll be good at is our experience. In recruiting I believe that to be successful you need a point, a post, a shooter and good role people around them. And our experience is our post in Carla, our point in Dee, and our shooter in Caroline. And then we need those 3s and 4s, those role players to step up.

I'm hoping that we addressed some of that with recruiting and addressed some of that with other players on the team, in Tina Wirth and Jen Risper and kids that have come back and worked hard in the off-season and have gotten a lot better. Especially the two of them have done that, so I'm excited.

And then there are the young kids coming in and making everybody work hard and compete and get better. Liz Sherwood has worked hard in the off-season and gotten better, so the middle has gotten better on its own. The bottom should push it up, and the top should be able to rise more because of that. And they're at the right positions.

VM: Is everybody cleared to practice?

Coach Balcomb: They might not practice all, or full, but everybody today is cleared to practice.

VM: What do you hope to accomplish in practice today?

Coach Balcomb: Not a lot. (Chuckle.) I don't think anybody's going to breathe, I don't think they're gonna listen. I think they're going to go 800 miles an hour and just get through it.

I do know that our upperclassmen are ready to lead. I just want to see who leads this year, see who the leaders are, and then make that decision later on if we even need captains. What we need are leaders, and we need more of them. We just want to see how it goes, and we'll make decisions as it goes.

But right now, from what I've seen so far in their workouts, there's been great leadership, and I think we're going to have to do a lot less coaching because we're going to have a lot more leading. And if that is the case, which I saw last week, it's going to fun. It's going to be a lot of fun.

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