Tuesday night's game against Vanderbilt wasn't a close game, but the Highlanders' pressure offense gave the Dores a dose of their own medicine and caused some ragged moments on the offensive end of the court.
But when all was said and done, despite 20 turnovers and only 12 assists and a subpar shooting percentage of 47% for the game, the Dores emerged with a lopsided 78-41 victory.
After the game, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb and leading scorer Jessica Mooney answered questions from the media about the game. Here's what they had to say:
Question: Did your starters seem a little disinterested early on?
Coach Balcomb: I don't think it was "disinterested." I think we started off really well defensively, but offensively this is a team that, again, you're seeing different defenses all the time.
We've seen all this sagging man and zone, and this was a team that pressured us. Even when they were in zone, they pressured us. So what we did was, we dribbled. And what you saw was us taking quick shots. We went from fast to faster, and we looked bad. We weren't really playing like us. We were playing like a lot of teams we play against. And so we were taking shots - they were OK shots, but every one was challenged. Every layup was challenged. So our shooting percentage wasn't good. We were forced to take quick shots.
What we talked about at halftime was getting more patient and looking like us and creating space to make a pass without dribbling. We rebounded the ball, and they'd dig at it, and we'd dribble real fast and throw it away. They made us go fast on offense, and we want to go slow on offense and then fast on defense.
So I was really pleased with the defensive effort. Offensively, you look at it at the end and say "12 assists and 20 turnovers, it's supposed to be the other way around." So I don't think we were disinterested. I think our focus was good, but we hadn't played against that kind of defense, and it took us off guard.
Question: Do you like that, seeing different defenses?
Coach Balcomb: Yes, absolutely. Even in their zone, they played some matchup zone and gave us different things. It seemed so open so we just tried to jump on it real fast instead of, as you saw in the second half, Jess [Mooney] made a lot of good setups by driving, kicking, draw and dish, pass to the trail. To be honest with you, we talked about a lot of things at halftime that we saw and then went out and did a better job of that in the second half.
Question: Is Jess a player who is suited to that type of defense?
Coach Balcomb: Yes, especially with them pressing. I just wanted to put Jess in and get her in the middle of the floor with the ball where she can be so effective in the open court, and that feeds in to what Jess is good at doing.
Question: And [Chanel] Chisholm, more of the same that you can get from her?
Coach Balcomb: Yes. Chizz is playing real confident. She's building her confidence every night. She works hard every day in practice. She's leading by example. I really like her body language and how she's carrying herself right now, and so good things are happening to her and for her, and for the team when she's in.
Question: What will you be up against out west this week?
Coach Balcomb: I haven't looked at either team yet because I never look past. My staff's been working on that. I know the first team, Fullerton, Lisa [Cermignano] has that scout and said that they're very small and very quick and go very very fast. They're fast and athletic, probably a lot like tonight.
[Radford] is going to be a good team. They've had a tough schedule. They have a new coach, so they're all trying to learn her system. They won 20 games last year. They lost two of their key players, but I think they'll win a lot of games; they've just had a tough pre-season schedule with a new coach and are struggling right now.
Question: Jess, do you like playing against a defense like that ?
Jessica Mooney: I do like playing defenses like that because I'm able to push the ball, and we can run in transition, and I think we're a pretty good team in transition.
Question: Talk about your role, being the first person or one of the first people off the bench. What do you try to do when you enter games?
Jessica: I just try to make the team better when I come off the bench, to provide a spark, not to hurt the team, but to make them better. That's my main goal.
Question: Did you kind of sense that they needed some offense tonight when you got in there?
Jessica: Coach was telling us to read the defense, so that's what I tried to do when I came in. They were sagging off me, so I tried to read the defense, and I just happened to be able to score on offense today.
Question: . . . on a fast break, it looks like you're really strong to the basket, do you think that's one of your strong points?
Jessica: That is one of my strong points. That's what I try to take pride in. Coach tells me to bring your strength every day, so that's what I try to do when I get in the open court and try and finish.
Question: How good were these guys defensively? It looked rough at points. Did they make it hard on you guys.
Jessica: They're definitely a good defensive team. They were up in our shorts. They're small and quick, so they were pressuring us, and I think that was, like Coach probably said, that was a lot different from what we've experienced. We've played against a lot of big teams that sag on us and switched a lot, so they were very different. We have to get used to playing against teams like that that we're going to face in the SEC.
Coach Coach Balcomb
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Photos copyright 2008 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com