What was the difference in the Vandy Purdue game?

After Vanderbilt's 73-66 loss to Purdue on Saturday, in the postgame press conference VandyMania asked each of the players and coaches present to talk about what they saw as the difference in the game.

Purdue senior center Mary Jo Noon and Purdue junior point guard Erica Valek came to the interview room first:

Erica Valek: I felt like this is something we've been preparing from early in the week. We've had to change a lot of things. We knew they were a great team, and this is what we're going to be facing in the Big Ten and after the Big Ten, so we needed to make sure that we took advantage of this opportunity because this is going to make us better. And we felt like did an excellent job of staying focused and changing a lot of things. We went from pressing to 2-3 to matching up to giving them a lot of looks, just keeping them busy, making sure they just didn't settle for a regular offense.

Mary Jo Noon: I think doing a lot of things at them defensively maybe caught them off-guard. And everybody lives to play in big games for a great cause, and it's something that kind of motivated us. We had an opportunity to play a great team in Vanderbilt with an All-American like Chantelle Anderson. That'll motivate us. On our team, we've all had losses to breast cancer, and that's something that motivates us. It's a great cause, and that was something big for us, too.

After Valek and Noon left the room, Purdue Head Coach Kristy Curry came in to answer questions, including the question of the difference in the game:

Coach Curry: I think the biggest difference in the game was the simple fact that we controlled the boards, and secondly, I thought our bench was big, as I said earlier.

After Coach Curry departed, a visibly dejected trio of Vanderbilt players entered the room. Amidst the other questions, senior point guard Ashley McElhiney, senior center Chantelle Anderson, and junior forward Jenni Benningfield gave their views on the difference in the game:

Vanderbilt Senior Point Guard Ashley McElhiney: This is supposed to be the type of game that you dream to play in, that you want to position yourself to be in this type of a game. And we came out, and we looked timid, we looked hesitant and scared, and with all those going against you, you're not going to do too much or too many positive things. And I don't think -- Chantelle and Jenni were just talking about it -- I don't think x's and o's beat us tonight. It was heart. It was confidence, believing in ourselves, and believing that we're a good team, a combination of all those.

Vanderbilt Senior Center Chantelle Anderson: At some point you have to start to believe that everything that you've done in practice is going to work and that you are a good enough team to come out and beat whoever you're playing. It didn't seem like we came out with that kind of confidence. And it was like fighting an uphill battle when you don't have that. It's like you're always trying to get it, so at some point when we were making runs, we were playing as a team, we were playing very well, you could see us kind of start to get confident like "okay, we're doing good, okay, okay". And then something would go wrong, and we'd just be like "Ohmygosh!" and freak out. So, like Mac said, I don't think it was x's and o's -- yeah, there are a lot of x's and o's we can get better at, no doubt, but I don't think that was why we lost this game.

Vanderbilt Junior Forward Jenni Benningfield: I'm going with what they said. Basically, it's all down to us, we've just got to learn from this and go on and never let this happen again, just use it as a learning tool. That's basically all we can do with this game. It's behind us, there's nothing we can do about it.

Finally, after the Vanderbilt players returned to the locker room, it was Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb's turn. Among the questions and answers was her take on the difference in the game:

Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie 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.

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