Vanderbilt vs Reebok postgame comments

<STRONG>The Press: </STRONG>How did you feel about the competitiveness of the Reebok team compared to Athletes in Action? <BR> <BR> <STRONG>Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb: </STRONG>I thought they were both competitive. The toughest thing with Reebok is that they got tired because two players quit this morning that were supposed to come and were very good former players from Purdue and pro players. . . .

I talked to their coach before the game, and he was very disappointed in the fact that they didn't make the trip, and they didn't come down from Cincinnati. He had sent this roster with them on it, so that's why they were limited and that's why they tired. I think they gave us a really good game until they got tired midway through the second half. It would have been more competitive with those two players.

The Press: So that's why (Ukari) Figgs wasn't there.

Coach Balcomb: Yes, and also a former teammate of hers.

The Press: Can you talk about areas of improvement from the last exhibition game to this one?

Coach Balcomb: You saw the improvement in the second half, not necessarily the first, in aggressiveness and confidence. ... I also think offensive rebounding. But again, that has to do with aggressiveness both on the offensive and on the defensive end. The second half we got more deflections, we were more aggressive defensively, and then on offense, we offensive rebounded, and our posts ran the floor, posted stronger inside, and called for the ball. You could just see a whole other aggressiveness, and once we got aggressive, you could see us getting confident, especially inside.

The Press: Are you feeling confident with Erica? She played most of the first half when Ashley Mac went out with foul trouble.

Coach Balcomb: Well, it's been one of my things over the years. If you have a lead and you're one of the starters, and you get 2 fouls, as long as we maintain our lead -- I did the same thing with Chantelle last game -- if you get two, you don't want to go into the second half with them with three fouls. So as long as we had the lead, that's just been a coaching philosophy I've had over the years. Now if you're losing, you better get them in. (laugh)

The Press: Do you know what thetechnical foul was called for?

Coach Balcomb: No, I have no idea. I couldn't get John's attention to even ask him.

The Press: How did you guys manage to get John Morningstar in an exhibition game?

Coach Balcomb: I don't know. John's a very good ref, one of the best, so I don't know.

The Press: (inaudible) double-double for Chantelle?

Coach Balcomb: To be honest with you, the thing that threw me off the most is we've played (inaudible)'s teams before. He's played all man to man. And I got some scounting on what they've played so far, and they played all man to man. So I think what threw us off the most early in the game is we weren't ready for as much zone -- they played zone the entire game, and they did that because two players quit, and they had no players. He's not even a zone coach, and I was very very prepared for man to man. You asked me about competition. The bummer of the whole thing is that we've played mostly against zone in two games, and I wish we could have worked more against man to man because I'm sure a lot of teams are going to play us man-to-man, especially in the SEC because of the athleticism that the league has. So that probably, not the level of the competition, the fact that we didn't go against man bothers me more than anything and he had no control of that. He was trying to save his players from getting tired and from fouling.

The Press: Talk about what you saw in Tia.

Coach Balcomb: Tia, again, I think it's a confidence level thing. Five steals and easy baskets down at the other end sure was a really big boost when we needed it, especially in the first half. She stepped in the passing lanes and gave us steals and easy baskets, easy opportunities on offense, and I think that really was important when the game was close.

The Press: Can you talk about Nicole Jules?

Coach Balcomb: Nicole Jules has been playing like that in practice every day. We were shocked the first game.. She was nervous. She had the freshman first game jitters. She didn't sleep the night before. She assured me that she was ready to go today. She's very fun to watch because she's very aggressive, has a lot of energy, and the confidence was just rolling off her. And she's not afraid to bang. She's not going to back down on anybody, and she practices against one of the best post players in the country every day, and she gets better every day because of that. She just took what she's been doing in practice and took it to the game. It was so good to see.

Coach Balcomb leaves, and Vanderbilt senior center Chantelle Anderson, sophomore forward Ashley Earley, freshman point guard Erica Grimaldi, and sophomore guard Tia Battle enter the room.

The Press: Chantelle, you had talked about the double double the other night (inaudible)

Chantelle: Yeah, I was kind of slagging along on points today. I'm just trying to go to the boards and get rebounds I should get, and I worked for a couple of them. I missed a couple still.

The Press: Tia, do you feel like you can gamble more in this system as opposed to last year?

Tia: I feel it's totally different type of defense which requires you to gamble. That's one of the whole points of the defense that we play. So I'm just taking advantage of the defense we were playing.

The Press: Tia, do you feel like this system suits you better that the one last year, or do you think that this is something that would have happened regardless?

Tia: I think it might have been something that would happen. The system we have now, obviously it's working pretty well for me so far, and hopefully I can continue to do that and get out and run a lot and get in the passing lanes a lot of times. But I also think that Coach Foster would have had the same aspirations for me for this year.

The Press: Ashley, do you feel like you're closing in on 100% with the knee?

Ashley: Yeah, it feels bettter every day in practice. I can really start telling a difference. It's 20 weeks on Thursday, so it's really going well.

The Press: You're banging the offensive boards like you were last year. Is it in the back of your mind?

Ashley: It's out of my mind. It's actually better than it was before. It's just a matter of me getting confidence back.

The Press: Erica, can you talk about what it's like being out there on the court against players who are five years your senior and have been drafted by the WNBA? To be out there leading the team, running down the court on fast breaks, finishing shots?

Erica: it's awesome once you start moving and running, I feel more confident Every day in practice I get more confident because I'm playing against arguably the best point in the nation, so if you have that, it makes it that much easier.

The Press: Chantelle, can you talk about the freshmen.

Chantelle: Well, Erica came in, and she was a little rattled at first, and I just see her confidence growing every single day, and with that confidence she's getting so much better. I think she's doing a great job of taking advantage of the situation with Mac and just learning from her and learning from everyone else and really picking up things really well. She listened at halftime really well and got the high low pass directly from the point guard to the post, and that was awesome.

Nicole -- I'm really proud of her too because it was her first double scoring game. . . .It was awesome. She comes in and she gives 100%. She was really loud on defense, moving very well in the zone, hustling, gives us that spark of energy, and she's just playing great. And again she listens well and she's taking advantage of the fact that she plays against me every day in practice, and she's really getting better. I mean both of them are improving. It's all you can ask for.

Commodores Daily Top Stories