Interview: Melanie Balcomb Part I

Women's basketball head coach Melanie Balcomb took time out from her hectic schedule Tuesday morning to answer some questions from VandyManiacs. Here's what she had to say.

VM: You say Vanderbilt will play an up-tempo game. Some fans who have watched the team the past couple of years wonder whether this is the right team to play that kind of a game.

For example, this is a common comment: "I'm concerned about up-tempo style. The SEC is full of athletic types, and Vandy is usually far behind in quickness compared to most. I don't see up-tempo suited for us in conference games. We are not going to outrun UT, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, etc."

So my question is: What do you have to have to implement the kind of an offense that you want to see Vandy run, and how do you go about getting from Point A to Point B?

CMB: It's a mentality. It has nothing to do with speed or athleticism whatsoever. It's a mentality. I ran with Xavier; everybody said we were slow and non-athletic, and I got layups on a lot of teams in the SEC. And I've got more athletic kids here right now than I had there. So the running is just to get us up and down the floor at a quicker pace instead of walking the ball down where we try to get numbers and have an advantage so that we're not playing five on five all the time and everybody doubling and tripling Chantelle. It's really going to help her to get some baskets in transition and keep people on their heels.

It's a mentality. Everything we've always run on, if you line us up and put us in a race, we're not going to win. But it makes no difference. It's just the mentality and the philosophy, and this team is adjusting to it really well.

VM: Could you talk more about what that mentality consists of?

CMB: The mentality consists of a philosophy.. . the best way I can put it is, "It's not who runs the fastest; it's who keeps running." So if you're just going to jog with the defense, you never get an advantage. If you run hard every time, nine times they're going to run hard with you; the tenth time you're going to break free. It's an effort skill; it has nothing to do with speed.

VM: Because of the amount of running that will take place in a game, do you foresee a fair number of players getting considerable minutes of playing time?

CMB: Yes, I do. You have to have players that are willing to play and obviously be in a great shape, but you've gotta go deeper in your bench. You've got to play more kids. And that doesn't mean they have to play a lot, they just have to spot for people.

VM: How about defense?

CMB: We are going to play man, and we are going to play matchup. And this is a team that really really is, I think, very good in a matchup situation. I think they work very well together. They communicate very well and work really well in that, and we defensively are obviously going to play a lot of zone and try to force people to shoot from the outside. Top Stories