Interview: Melanie Balcomb Part II

This is part two of a two part interview with Women's basketball head coach Melanie Balcomb. The interview took place just before the team left for Europe.

VM: A couple of questions about your roster. First, can you talk a little about your latest addition, Erica Grimaldi?

CMB: She's a walk-on. She's a 5-foot point guard. Ashley McElhiney had to play 40 minutes a game last year, and the backup Colli transferred before we got here when Jim was here, and we thought we had a spot where she could help us in practice numbers-wise and she could really help us as far as filling a spot where we don't have a lot of depth. She's got a great handle, a great work ethic, and a great heart, and those kind of kids always help your program.

VM: How about the other freshman, Nicole Jules. Have you had a chance to see her?

CMB: No, I can't watch her play because I can't watch pickup. I just know in the conditioning drills and things like that that we are allowed to watch, she's working very hard.

VM: Is there any chance there will be any other additions to the roster between now and the time the season starts?

CMB: No. When you take a job like we did in June, there are no SEC players still out there.

VM: Okay, now several questions about public relations -- relations with fans, boosters and the general public. First, Bobby Johnson has said that he's having open preseason practices. Is there any chance that you'll follow suit?

CMB: I have not even sat down and talked to my staff about that yet. That will be a decision we make as a staff.

VM: I think I can probably speak for the Internet people -- which is my constituency, for better or worse -- and say that having some opportunity to attend practices, especially early on, would be great.

CMB: We at some point will have an open practice. I can't guarantee you how many, but we're going to have an open practice for our boosters and fans and actually have a day where we open it up, have a scrimmage, and invite everyone. We'll at least do that one day. I don't know how many practices will be open.

VM: Have you been able to get out into the community much?

CMB: When I first got here, before I went on the road, I got out and spoke some immediately when I could. The transition has been tough because I got the job with only a couple of weeks to hire staff, finish hiring my staff, meeting the players and getting to know them. And then we went on the road immediately. But I did actually speak two or three times to some groups, and everything was extremely positive. I think that's something that as a staff and a program we will do a lot of.

VM: Have you thought about how things will go with the Commodore Crew this year, whether they'll be similar types of activities as they've had in the past?

CMB: That I cannot tell you yet, either. We have to sit down as a staff and really work on those things. Right now, we've been practicing, we've been having recruits in every day since we've been back off the road, preparing for this trip and trying to move. We just have not had time to do that. It's too early to answer that.

VM: I'm curious about the person who was here from the west coast observing practice that you said you were going to discuss x's and o's with.

CMB: Oh yeah. That's what college coaches do to get better. What every coach in the country tries to do is keep growing. What we do is go to clinics, we meet with other coaches, that's what every coach in the country is doing. And I wanted to do that immediately with our staff. He coaches in the men's program at Oregon, and we just wanted to get him out and get some ideas with the program. That's just a professional growth thing that everybody in this business does in the off-season.

VM: One last question. You're familiar with the team in the past because you've played us the past couple of years. If we looked at a typical box scores from last year, and a typical box score this year, what are some differences we would see?

CMB: Well, the tough part is that we have different players. So when you look at a box score, you have Chantelle with a lot of points, the people in between the points and we don't have a lot of scoring coming back. So I think that's one of our concerns -- finding where we're going to score, those second, third and fourth scorers, losing Zuzi and Danker and with Ashley Earley now with a torn ACL, it's so hard to say this early.

Hopefully, we would score more points, but we just lost a lot of points. So I think the other thing is we want to stop people, and offensively we're probably going to shoot the three more than they did. Our goal is always to get to the foul line, and if you look at any stat, usually the team that went to the foul line the most wins, and part of the mentality of running is attacking all the time and getting people on their heels. And I want to attack more and get to the free throw line more than they did. And we've got to do a great job defending, although I think they did defend well last year. It's hard to say because they did a lot of things well, and they had a great season. I think the biggest thing would be getting to the free throw line more and, as far as the philosophy, attacking, and probably shooting the ball from three more.

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