Women's Hoops: LSU press conference

<i>After Vanderbilt's 78-69 loss to the LSU Lady Tigers in the SEC Tournament semi-finals, Vanderbilt players and coaches answered questions from the press. First, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb made some opening comments, then Coach Balcomb, senior center Chantelle Anderson, and junior forward Jenni Benningfield answered questions from the press. </i>

Coach Balcomb: I think that the big thing we struggled with from the start of the game was on the defensive end. It wasn't our best effort defensively. I think the biggest difference in the game was obviously from the free throw line and that was because we were fouling a lot and just were late on everything defensively for most of the game. The positive was that I thought we played hard, and I thought that we didn't give up.

The Press: Do you think the team was struggled with the press in the second half when LSU started to make their run?

Coach Balcomb: They pressed when Ashley McElhiney went out and Erica, our backup point guard, came in, and they did that before when we didn't have Mac, so we expected that. I don't think that was the turnaround at all. We came back after that and got the lead again.

The Press: Coach, do you think 3 games in 3 days finally caught with the team in the second half, 0 for 11 from 3-point range? The Press: Coach, do you think 3 games in 3 days finally caught with the team in the second half, 0 for 11 from 3-point range?

Coach Balcomb: You can ask them how they felt.

Jenni: That's no excuse. We weren't hitting our shots. I don't know if we weren't getting low enough or whatever, but playing three games in three days, this is what you work hard for from day one. . . . Yeah, three games in three days is hard, but that's no reason why the way we played today. We didn't execute anywhere near what we're capable of doing. Our defense didn't step up, and like Coach said, we were one step slower today. We just couldn't get it going from the 3-point line as far as that's concerned.

The Press: Coach, can you talk about what your plan was for Augustus coming into the game. It seemed to work, then she took over the game in the last few minutes.

Coach Balcomb: To be honest with you, . . . the larger problem was we didn't stop dribble penetration from the guards and they created us having to shift and rotate, and then they passed out to Augustus who was then open. Most of our problem was not not stopping direct drives, not creating space and cutting the drive off, and not being there on our rotation. Last time we played them, we had four or five charges; tonight we had none. We just weren't there. And one of the reasons was because they beat us off the dribble and then they'd hit Augustus, who was open. And as the game went on, and we moved less, that situation happened more for Augustus to be able to catch and shoot. (Pause.) And she was beating us on penetration off the dribble.

The Press: Coach, what is actually the rule when a player is injured in the course of play in regard to the officials stopping play?

Coach Balcomb: I don't know, but I--

Chantelle: He told us that they couldn't stop the play until it was a dead ball.

Jenni: Because it was like on the break --

Chantelle: Like if we would have made a shot, or if they would have made a stop, then they could stop it, but in the middle of the play, they can't.

Coach Balcomb: The referees, like most of the games, their discretion. (The players make a sound like "Hmmph.") . I've seen it stopped immediately, I've seen it not stopped . . . it's just their call.

The Press: She seemed to be on the court for a particularly long time.

Coach Balcomb: Yes, she did. I agree with you.

The Press: Chantelle, do you feel like they did anything in particular to limit your shots?

Chantelle: I took my shots when available. I don't think they limited my shots. I got the shots in the flow of the offense. I probably could have been a little bit more aggressive towards the end, and I know I was waiting and looking for some of the double teams and kicking out a little bit at the end, and maybe I could have been a little bit more aggressive, but I think they pretty much just came in the flow of the offense. Other people got good shots. Jenni got nice shots, Abi took nice shots.

The Press: What did you thnk of Augustus' performance late in the game?

Chantelle: Goodness. She just-- she was clutch today. She hit some big shots, and, like Coach said, she was beating us on dribble penetration. She's very quick, and she did a great job of-- she has a quick first step and did a great job of pulling up. And we have to able to contain the other players so that we don't have to help off her so we're not running at her so much and then-- I don't think we would have been in that situation if we would have played defense earlier. She made some great shots, and you're just going to have to live with a few of those, but we didn't play defense on a lot of the other shots that they should not have gotten as a team. And so that's what hurt us, it's not the spectacular shots she made at the end.

The Press: In the second half you had 11 TOS to LSU's 3, I know nobody wants to cite fatigue as the factor, but was the sharpness just not present as the game went on?

Coach Balcomb: I think one of the big differences is that we play zone, and they play man, and they're pressuring and denying, and we don't. We don't tend to have a lot of steals. We're in a zone, trying to make them take the outside shot which is not their strength. So I think a lot of it had to do with philosophy differences. I don't think fatigue was really a factor. They stepped up their intensity in man defense at the end of the game, which is what their strength is. They did a great job.

Chantelle: Everybody's tired at this time of year. (Laughs.) They were tired, too. It wasn't just us.

Coach Balcomb and the players left the room. Afterwards, VandyMania asked Jenni about her thoughts and feelings.

Jenni: It's kind of a disgusted feeling because we know we didn't play good at all and we got beat on defense, and that's probably one of the worst defensive efforts we've had in a long time. It's just kind of depressing. But on the positive side, I always say this and Coach even said that, we've got to learn from every game. It's frustrating right now, and like you said, it does kind of eat you alive, but we'll learn from it. They're a good team, and they beat us tonight. It's frustrating.

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