Coaches, Player comments

After the Youngstown State game on Saturday, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, Ashley McElhiney, Chantelle Anderson, to talk about the game and the development of the team in general. Here's what they had to say.

The Press: It had to be good to see Mac break loose.

Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb: Yeah, especially when we put her at the two guard, I really wanted her to just get confident with her shooting, and that's where we were getting a lot of open three's was on the wing tonight and in transition. So I really wanted to make sure she got some shots and got hot because I think we're really going to need her three-point shooting, and it was very good to see.

The Press: And 11 assists . . ?

Coach Balcomb: Those out-of-bounds plays help, don't they? (laugh) I told her out-of-bounds under we should be scoring 10-12 points a game, and once she gets down the ball-faking and things, we really try to score out of bonds immediately, as you can see, and our execution was much better than it has been the first two games. The point always takes it out for us, so she's going to get a lot of assists there. But I also thought she did a much better job in transition picking out the right people when you have numbers on the break and starting to run the break like we're teaching.

The Press: You had 6 players in scoring in double figures.

Coach Balcomb: That always makes a coach happy. You want to be as balanced as possible, and when you have that many players, you always want four of your starters or five in double figures because then you're very hard to scout and you're very hard to guard when you can spread the wealth around like that. That's something a coach loves to see.

The Press: Also, it looks like cutting turnovers has been a point of emphasis.

Coach Balcomb: Yeah, I don't know how much of that is just that this team wasn't as aggressive and didn't trap as much. Boston U trapped and pressed all game, and Syracuse also trapped a lot and was more aggressive. This team really tried to pack in the 2-3, which Syracuse also did, so I think there was not a lot of pressure on the ball today. They were more concerned about shutting down Chantelle inside and really packing it in and forcing us to take the 3-point shot. So it was really nice to see us shoot with more confidence and be ready to shoot the ball instead of it being our second and third and hesitant as we were in the fisrt couple of games.

The Press: How about defensively? How do you gauge today's game?
Coach Balcomb: I think we actually played better defense at BU. We play better defense obviously when the games are tight, you have that intensity. And I think that's what we were really on them tonight about -- not letting up defensively when we got a big lead. The problem has been that we haven't been able to put anybody away on the road or really tonight, and you have to send a message psychologically in a game like this for the tournament. The other two teams are watching, if we can't put people away, and I've got to play the starters so long, that's not a good sign. So what we're trying to do it get them to not just exchange baskets when they get a lead. We get a lead, we're shooting the ball well, we start giving up easier baskets than we have. That happened again tonight. That's why I called a couple of quick time outs in the second half and tried to get back to being more aggressive and and intense defensively. Because if you're scoring and you shut them down, then you can build that lead, we could play more people, we could get some subs in, we could get some rest for tomorrow, all those things. We haven't been taking care of business on the defensive end as consistently as I would like.

The Press: Talk about finally getting home.

Coach Balcomb: I was talking to the referee -- we had the same refs in the last game and this game -- and I said, geez, I don't know whether it's the home court or what. But I think that really helped us to get home and feel comfortable. It gives you confidence to be on the court that you're practicing on, and I've got players playing a lot of minutes that haven't played a lot of minutes in the past that are really stepping up, and their roles are increased, and I think they were a lot more confident here at home.

The Press: Can you talk about Chantelle in the three games so far this season?

Coach Balcomb: What Chantelle's gotta realize is that they are going to take that away, and I think she had to see that they were going to take her low post game away if they could. It just got to the point at Syracuse where every time we passed the ball in there, they didn't throw a double at her; they'd throw a triple at her -- three people surrounded her and she couldn't even turn. So we talked about what other ways she could find to score, and she's working very hard on those ways, and I think she showed you some of those tonight. She got on the offensive glass, she shot from the short corner, she faced up. We got her the ball in places where she can't get doubled and tripled, and we let the offense do the work and spread it out. And I think they're starting to understand that it can't be just banging it in to her and everything be a second and third thought. I thought Chantelle adjusted very well tonight in what we had asked her to do, and she just needs to gain confidence in those other areas. When someone takes something away, you've got to do stuff that's maybe not in your comfort zone, and we talked about that. She's very good at all those other things, but she's very comfortable with the low block. So when they take that away, she's going to have other weapons. She HAS other weapons. She just has to get the confidence to consistently use them. She's just so versatile. We're trying her to show everybody how versatile we think she is.

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The Press: (inaudible)

Vanderbilt Point Guard Ashley McElhiney: I think I have been off on shooting. I think every shooter goes through slumps, and hopefully I'm out of it. Please! (laughter)

The Press: How has it been moving to the two in the first half? Did that help get you going?

Ashley Mac: Yeah, that probably got me, I guess that's when I hit my first three. We did a better job of scoring inside tonight so it opened up outside, and then we started making three-pointers, and then we got inside shots. So I think everybody made improvements on offense tonight.

The Press: Chantelle , can you talk about your season so far?

Vanderbilt Center Chantelle Anderson: Personally?

The Press: Yes, how is it making the transition to the new style of offense and things like that?

Chantelle: : I haven't been playing particularly well. I don't think it has anything to do with the transition to the offense or the new coach or anything like that. I think I just have to relax and let my game come to me better. I've been so focused on everything I'm supposed to do this season that I just have to relax and play. I'm trying to figure out how to do that right now.

The Press: Coach talked about wanting you to show your versatility.

Chantelle: : To develop my versatility? (laughter)Yeah. No, I was joking. Yeah, definitely. I have a lot of confidence in my low post game, and I have to be more confident in my short corner game and from the high post. I can hit those shots. I can drive, I can pull up. I can do all those things, and I do it in practice every single day -- these guys (nodding to the other players) know, but I have to show everybody else. I just have to relax and let those opportunities come to me.

The Press: Was there more room (inaudible)

Ashley Mac: I think every zone we've faced so far has pretty much been the same. Everywhere we go I think that Chantelle is going to attract a crowd, and we have to loosen that up for her. We have to confidence beyond the arc. Hopefully, that started tonight. We made some big shots. I just think we did a better job of executing. We know where we're supposed to go, and what we're supposed to do, and tonight we did it on several occasions, and we had success doing it.

The Press: Jenni, are you starting to feel more comfortable in transition?

Vanderbilt Forward Jenni Benningfield: I think that goes back to what Ahsley said -- we executed. With our defense, that goes on to offense, and tonight I think it was an overall confidence booster for offense as far as both halfcourt and transition. We really executed; we've really been focusing on that. Our transition opened it up, like Ashley said, for the outside shooters and that opened it up for the post players. It's definitely a confidence booster overall offense tonight. We've just got to take that and carry on and get both offense and defense together, and we're going to be fine.

Ashley Mac: We have fun in transition.

Jenni: Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

Ashley Mac: I think at first we were scared to make mistakes, and coach said, "Just go for it, nothing's going to happen if the ball gets turned over." We did it tonight, and it worked.

Jenni: And it wasn't just one person. It was everybody. Everybody had confidence in each other. Ashley and Erica, first come to mind, had some great passes to not only to the post players, but to the wing players. I think that's the biggest thing -- that everybody had confidence, not just one or two people, and that's definitely going to help.

The Press: (inaudible) Erica's spin move?

Ashley Mac, Chantelle, Jenni: (talking all at once) It would have been so tight if she had shot it, though . . if she had shot it, it would have been over . . I told her if she was going to go that deep, she better shoot it (laughter) . . . she did in in one practice, and we were all just like, whoa, (laughter) . . no kidding, she's got some moves .. and a crossover and all that . . .

The Press: Do you have more confidence in the backup point guard position than you have had the past couple of years?

Chantelle: This is not to knock Erica at all, she's been doing a great job picking up the offense and transition-wise to the college game, but I think that she's a freshman, and I think it's really hard to have a freshman running the point, so, yes, we know that if Mac goes out, if she has to go out or whatever for a minute, then it'll be okay. We have someone that can step in and run the offense, but I don't think you'll be seeing anyone take Mac's spot any time soon.

Jenni: I totally agree, but Erica's definitely worked hard and definitely improved every day. I think that's the most important thing. Everybody knows her role, and she just continues to work hard. So she's ready to do whatever coach needs her to do.

Chantelle: Yeah, that's awesome. And with her, getting more comfortable, she allows Mac to, if she's not getting shots at the 1, maybe it's going to allow her to stay in the game and get more shots at the 2 in stretches, so I think that'll be good. It's good that she's continuing to improve.

The Press: Ashley, how comfortable do you feel when you move to the 2? Does it feel strange to you?

Ashley Mac: At first it did, but we were work on it in practice everyday so it's getting more comfortable. I guess you guys still see me trying to get the ball on the outlet -- I forget I'm the 2. (laughter) But it's getting better, so if I have to play the 2, and Erica comes in and plays the 1, we can handle it.

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