Jan. 12, 2014
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Vanderbilt Coach Melanie Balcomb
On Tennessee's height advantage in the front court:
"I was concerned about their height; I was concerned about their athleticism, and the talent level, just like I worry about it every time we play Tennessee. I think the big thing was just us trying to execute and be who we are. I think we are a very good team, and when we execute we can be as good as we want to be. The problem comes in as not letting Tennessee take us out of who we want to be. I think we did a very good job of that, no matter what run they did, or how much they jumped over us or ran past us or were taller than us. We just kept playing and executing our game plan. We showed a lot of discipline and composure and toughness."
On the effect of senior leaders Jasmine Lister and Christina Foggie:
"It means a lot, you have two seniors who are going to have the ball in their hands most of the time. You're going to have to play them 40 minutes, and they know that, so the media and TV timeouts help a lot. They had both beaten Tennessee here before during their sophomore year, so they have experienced this, as well as Kady Schrann who was a freshman. Our last key was belief and they had beaten them before so they had that belief."
On Jasmine Lister's second half:
"I think she's the best second half player I have ever had. I don't want to jinx it because she's been so consistent. It's almost like she just lets the game come to her in the first half, and keep us in the game and does what she needs to do. She doesn't take a lot of shots and take over. And when everybody else is tired in the second half, she knows that she can put it in another gear that other people don't have anymore. She uses that to her advantage, so her size is no longer a disadvantage. She's got a really big heart."
On the difficulty of convincing players to be who they are:
"It's tough, that's the thing I kept talking about. Don't do things different than you would do because there is a big crowd and it's Tennessee. Don't get excited. Stay within yourself. I say stay within your lane. Don't do things that are uncharacteristic. If we start trying to do more individually than we can do, because Tennessee's players can do more individually than some of ours, then it starts to look uncharacteristic. That's what usually happens when we lose to Tennessee, and that only happened once today.
On when the team played uncharacteristically
"It was when Morgan Batey started on the break and threw it to Foggie. She got excited. She doesn't lead our break. She's not going to handle the basketball, so don't do that. She played awesome by the way, and got right back in her lane. My favorite movie is the "Hitch" movie, where the guy wants to dance and get all crazy for this girl, and Will Smith keeps going, `No, stay right there, stay in your lane.' And that's how I described it to my team, and nobody went there other than that one play. I think part of me even wanted her to go there, I was excited. The discipline they showed, to be able to do that, I'm really proud of that because that's a lot to look for. This is very early in the season."
On game planning a defense for specific players on Tennessee:
"We didn't do anything special to one person. We thought they had four very quality scorers. We worked on their individual tendencies. We tried to make them use their weaknesses, not their strength. Our overall game plan of changing defenses, making them think, making them react, I think was the key. Our kids were all on the same page, running the same defenses, keeping them off balance. We changed a lot of things, because if you keep your defense the same all night, all of these kids will make you look bad. I think they'd score 85 points a game if you don't. And that's what is really cool, because we held them to 63.
"I told them if you let do what they do, and they score 85, you better be prepared to score 86, and I think we realized we weren't going to score 86 against Tennessee. When we got her (Isabelle Harris) in early foul trouble, we wanted to attack her, and attack the posts. You saw in the second half they didn't want to foul. At halftime we talked about attacking the basket and we ran more plays to do that. They didn't want to foul and get out of the game."
On the team's ability to hit free throws late in the game:
"I don't like to talk about our free-throw shooting much because I don't want to jinx it, but we've been doing it very well. I think we are very skilled, we can handle, pass and shoot, and that's just a part of it. But to have that composure, it makes me excited about the future for freshman to be able to step and hit the free throws."
On her comfort with a guard heavy lineup:
"The last time I went to the Sweet 16 with a team and won the tournament championship, we played with five guards actually. Even tonight we had five guards in for a short time. I did it when they didn't have the big girl in, and I didn't do it long, but there were five guards out there. I like four guards and a post offensively, but you have to figure out defensively how to make people think and take jump shots."
On the support of Vanderbilt fans tonight:
"It was great tonight. I see a change here. I was ready for everything for this job. I was ready to coach in the SEC, I was ready to coach against Pat [Summit], I was ready to coach against the best and go play in front of 21,000 people in orange at UT. I was ready for all of that, but I was not ready for the home court not to be more black and gold and not be so orange. I remember it being very orange when Pat had her 900th victory in here, and I think it can be very difficult.
"I didn't realize what that does for a team when you play at home and get booed by a lot of people. They were not the home team that game. We've done a lot of things in marketing, we've continued to be steady and win games and be successful. I know everybody has been on board to help us change that. Tonight, I felt like there was more black and gold, and we were the home team. I could feel it in the crowd, and that is the neatest thing for me. It's been 12 years, and it didn't happen overnight, and it's not going to when you're coaching against Pat Summit and Tennessee. I'm very proud of our team, and of our fan base, and I hope we gained a few fans today. This was on national TV, I hope we gained some fans, some recruits, and I hope they saw how classy we are and how much heart we have. It's a great program to be proud of and I'm very proud today."
Senior Guard Christina Foggie
On going into game saying it was just another game:
"Actually yeah, we absolutely believed that it was just another game. Like I said earlier this week, we don't want to treat it any differently because then we start playing out of our comfort zone and out of character. We just treated it like any other game and it's the same way, we have to move on to the next one."
On Vanderbilt crowd that showed up today:
"Three years ago, our freshman year there were a lot of games where there has been a lot of orange. Between marketing and our team's play, we've gotten a lot of black and gold, more and more every year and today was awesome. It felt like a home game and it felt like there was a lot of black and gold, so our fans are really showing out for these games and they're coming loud. It makes a huge difference for us when we're playing out there."
On Tennessee's size advantage:
"Well we knew going into the game that they were going to be bigger than us so we wanted to push them off the block and make them catch further away from the basket; and do as much as we could around so we could get steals. I think those steals helped us from letting them get the ball into the block and putting us at a disadvantage. So just prepared all week for it since we knew it was coming."
On sense of wanting the game more than Tennessee:
"Absolutely, like Jasmine (Lister) said when we're down 10, we don't like that feeling at all no matter who it is. So we wanted to dig down and play hard and whatever time was left on the clock we kept telling each other, `seven more minutes or four more minutes,' and that really helps you just dig down and try to get the win. I was proud of everyone for digging down and clawing out the deficit and getting the win."
On contributions of underclassmen:
"They were huge, especially on defense. You see Marqu'es (Webb) taking charges, not many centers want to take charges, and they were at crucial parts of the game. Morgan (Batey) getting all her rebounds and hitting open shots, it's amazing because she just so confident and they are both so confident. I think that's a testament to the team, we're not really playing young, we're playing like basketball players so I think that showed today."
Senior Guard Jasmine Lister
On second half composure and being down 10:
"We kept our composure; we didn't put our head down or anything like that. We knew that we went into this game believing we were going to win it so even when things didn't go our way, or when they did start to go our way, we stayed level-headed and just kept chipping away at that lead."
On Tennessee's second half foul trouble:
"We were cautious too because our bigs got in foul trouble too. We still kept attacking them, you could definitely see that. We didn't get frazzled or anything like that, we just kept taking it to them and getting to the free-throw line."
On being able to make the big second half comeback after being down by 10:
"I definitely think it's will and want too, and we just persevered. We were relentless. We got crucial defensive boards and made shots when we really needed too, especially Foggie and Morgan Batey down the stretch."
Tennessee Coach Holly Warlick
When Izzy's on the bench, only played a minute in the first half and then fouling out, I don't have an answer. Trying to get inside and then missing layups; they had a great game plan and we just couldn't get the job done.
On absence of Isabelle Harrison:
It's not just that. We get up and then we can't stop penetration, you know it's not just [Isabelle] Harrison. It's about what's important on the other end. Our mentality is that we're going to outscore people, but we gotta get stops. With Harrison on the bench or not, we've gotta get stops. You go into the game knowing that Foggie and Lister are their best players and they get 21 and 22. Until defense is important to us, we know we're going to struggle.
On the health of Bashaara Graves:
I think Bashaara was fine today. I think that she's been hurt, but I think that today she was fine.
On dribble penetration and set plays against:
They're penetrating to the basket, we just didn't have an answer today.
On Vanderbilt's Marqu'es Webb:
We followed her, you know, and she had a good game. I've seen her play, and I'm not surprised.
On losing late second half lead:
I'm not surprised at that, when we give up layups, no lead is sacred. We got the lead and went and relaxed and they took advantage of us, got to the free-throw line, shot layups, and then it's game on. I'm not surprised. [Vanderbilt] obviously, to me, looked like they wanted it more than Tennessee.
On putting best defensive players on the floor:
At times, we had the five best defensive players out there and we couldn't stop them. It's my job to come back and get them ready and make them better defensively. That's what we'll try to do is go back to the drawing board, and that's all we can do.
On changing defensive strategies:
We did. We pressed, we went man-to-man, we went zone. You can do that, but at some point in the game you've gotta get a stop, you've gotta defend people going to the basket. They had 32 points in the paint, and the majority of them were off penetration.
On execution vs. effort as issues:
I don't know what you want me to say, but they played harder than us. So probably both.
On potential changes on defense:
You just defend and keep defending to put them in situations like we were in today. Just keep putting them in tough situations. We've put a lot of focus on our defense. We've just gotta keep going over and over [defense].