Women's Hoops: Balcomb postgame comments

The sixth-ranked Purdue Boilermakers defeated No. 8 Vanderbilt 73-66 Saturday afternoon in the Hoops for the Cure Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Commodores fell to 4-1 with the loss. After the game Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb fielded questions from the press.

Here are the questions and her answers.

The Press: I guess it's hard to believe that Chantelle would only have 4 FTs in the 2nd half.

Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb: I didn't even notice, to be honest with you. I noticed that we, as a team, did not take a lot of free throws, and that was one of the areas that we knew -- we had to be aggressive and attack, and we wanted to go to the free throw line more than them because in most of their games, they're making more free throws than their opponents even go to the line. We knew that going into the game, and if you look at the numbers, they just did it again. So, that was something that we wanted to try to take away; not get into the position where we were fouling them and to get in a position where we were aggressive and attacking, and we did not do that.

The Press: Was it similar to some of the other games in terms of what people have been doing in terms of defending Chantelle?

Coach Balcomb: Well, they went to a box and one, it wasn't really different. I don't think that changed anything because we were tentative and hesitant from the start. We turned the ball over, we weren't attacking. We were very hesitant, and then they went to that, I think that it just put her in a position where she's been in all year, where she was doubled, and we're in a zone. And other people have to have the confidence to step up. They were leaving other people open, and we were hesitating.

The Press: Coach, what was the difference in the game?

Coach Balcomb: Rebounding was a big difference. The two things that we wanted to take advantage of were the free throws -- we wanted to go to the line more than them because that's what they've been doing every night, and we didn't change that -- and we wanted to out-rebound them. They've been out-rebounding their opponents and dominating the boards, and 36-27, they out-rebounded us. So the two things that they had been doing well, we didn't take either of those things away, the stat books would say, and they win again. I think we need to do a better job of taking things away. Defensively, we didn't get it done. We let the drivers drive, and we let the shooters shoot. And offensively, we were just tentative and hesitant.

The Press: Can you talk about (inaudible)?

Coach Balcomb: Yeah, she hit some big shots off the dribble. We ran at her, didn't do a good job of closing out because we didn't want her to hit a three. She's a good spot-up three-shooter, and she shot-faked one or two dribbles on the floor, pull-ups, and she hit a couple of big shots for them down the stretch.

The Press: Coach, when you talk about needing to be more aggressive, does that apply to Chantelle?

Coach Balcomb: Yes, that applies to the entire team. We're got to get a point where, whatever they're doing to her, she wants the ball just as bad, and just as aggressive. .We can't separate what we're doing -- Chantelle is a great player, everybody knows that, but this is a team game, and we all needed to be more aggressive.

The Press: You did get some timely 3s late that kept you in the game.

Coach Balcomb: Yeah, we probably scored, I don't know, 15 points with two minutes to go when the game was over. And that'll tell you something. We didn't have any trouble scoring when the game was over, and we played with nothing to lose and everything to gain. All of a sudden, we relaxed, we hit three's, we were crashing the boards. That's how we should have gone into the game when you're the underdog. We should have been playing free, we should have been playing to win, and without pressure. And we have a lot of players that are not, I don't think, comfortable and confident and don't have that much playing time in big games like this out there on the floor. And you want to make sure -- this is a great experience for us. It's a missed opportunity, is what it is. But it's a great experience for those players to see that they can't hold back, they can't be hesitant, they have to -- the whole game -- go for it. We played like we were protecting something and the pressure should have been on us, and it wasn't. I think the biggest thing we learned from this game is attitude. That's the biggest thing I took from it. It's not that we have a bad attitude; it's that we're not confident enough.

The Press: Is there anything about Noon that was an issue here, from a defensive point of view?

Coach Balcomb: I don't think we did a good job on her. We didn't do what we worked on in practice to her.

The Press: Coach, how did you plan to deal with Shereka Wright?

Coach Balcomb: Stop her from driving and offensive rebounding. Let me see what she did --

The Press: . . went to the line a lot.

Coach Balcomb: That's what she does. She usually shoots at least ten free thows a game, so we wanted to not foul her, not let her drive, and she had seven boards, shot nine times, and had 14 points. And that's what I'm talking about. We didn't take care of the personnel. What our game plan was, we didn't do. And that's not that the kids didn't want to do it. Nobody wants to let the drivers driver, the shooters shoot, and the rebounders rebound. It's feeling pressure, not being able to do what they're doing in practice in a big game. All of a sudden, they're not able to do those things. That's mental, at this point. They want to do it. They're hard-working kids, and they're good kids. So I think that's something we've got to really work on is the mental part and getting that experience in big games. I don't know how many times some of these players, other than Chantelle and Ashley Mac, have been in this kind of game, all game. We just came out -- if you look at the first five minutes, it was scary. I didn't know who we were at that point. That's your first clue.

The Press: What did you tell them at that first time out?

Coach Balcomb: I just told them to stop hesitating and play with confidence, that they weren't taking anything away from us, we were taking it away from ourselves. and to play with confidence -- pretty much what I was trying to tell them all game. But you have to earn that in practice, and then you have to get the game experience.

The Press: So what you mean is getting a confident attitude.

Coach Balcomb: Yeah. Yes. You've got to learn from wins and losses, it doesn't matter. What they should learn from this game is that they can't play tentative and unsure of themselves. They have to have that confidence, or they won't like the results. They have to go for it. I just

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