Women's Basketball
Vanderbilt-Kentucky postgame quotes

March 2, 2014

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Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb
On whether this was a heartbreaking loss ...
"I think our effort was really good. I'm really proud of my team and their effort. We were down 17 points and fought back in a very tough environment against the No. 12 team in the country. My heart is not broken. It gives us a lot of hope for next week."

On what allowed them to fight back ...
"I thought we stayed together as a team. I thought we communicated. We really have been working on our communication and talking to one another, and really being a closer team. We always fight but I think we've had trouble executing and (getting) everyone on the same page. I thought all day, even when we were down 17 points, we got together as a team and stayed together. I really liked our teamwork to be honest with you. We haven't had that for a while. I felt good about it."

On the physicality of the game ...
"It is very physical. Kentucky is very physical. The SEC is very physical. I think that is what a lot of our problem getting down is. They hit first, we take it well, and then we fight back. At some point, we have to attack first. We've got to hit first and not wait and see what is going to come at us. We need to come at people. I think when you lack confidence as a team -- and we've been losing -- we end up looking around too much. We're not aggressive enough from the start. We build that confidence during the game and I hope that confidence will carry over."

On the development of the team ...
"Losing is a great teacher. We haven't lost in years. We are learning a lot. I like how my team is responding. I like our chances in postseason, to be honest with you. We've made some really good changes and I'm sincerely proud of them tonight. It's disappointing to lose. This isn't a moral victory, don't get me wrong. We expected to win tonight. We expect to win every time we step on the floor. We have come a long way in a very tough stretch. That takes a lot. We found that we do have the fight that it takes."

On their difficulty getting the ball into the paint ...
"I think they're bigger, stronger, and more athletic than us. Just like most teams in the league. That's what's been hurting us -- not being able to defend the size. We don't get the ball in the paint enough. Where we do get the ball in the paint is driving. We attacked off the dribble really well and helped us get a lot of layups. We usually do rely on the 3. I don't think we did that tonight. I think we attacked the rim, attacked the basket and got to the free-throw line. Those are the things that I was looking for. Their high-low was very hard for us to guard because we are outsized."

On whether the game plan was to play the perimeter ...
"No. We want to play inside-out. It's just getting the ball inside. I don't have a post player that is any more than a sophomore and a freshman. Every game is new. I'm starting two freshmen post players. They've never played Kentucky before in their lives. Then (Kentucky has) two seniors that are pretty darn good and have played a lot. Again, they're just trying to hold their own for a while. We aren't going to bang it in on anyone. We're going to get back by hopefully getting to the free-throw line and hitting some 3's inside-out, which is what I thought we did."

#10 Christina Foggie, G
On reacting to Kentucky's style of play ...
"I agree with coach. Just having that belief from the start, attacking at the start, and being aggressive. I thought we got in transition really well after the first 10 minutes of the game, which really changed some stuff. Just being ready from the start and being aggressive."

On the team's confidence ...
"Absolutely, as a player, like coach said, I felt like it was the best teamwork we have had in a long time. I felt a lot of unity and communication. I really trusted that everyone had each other's back on defense and on offense. I wasn't hitting shots right away, but my teammates had a lot of belief in me. I think that is huge going into the tournament is sticking together and having that team work."

On Vanderbilt's zone defense ...
"I think it was just a matter of adjusting to what they wanted to do. I think the communication part I talked about really helped. Knowing who the shooters and who was cutting high post so that we could take that away. I think that allowed us to get on a bit of a run, so I think just communicating and adjusting to their game plan throughout the course of the game."

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening statement ...
"Well, you work so hard all season long and it comes down to the final game of the season and you're at home and you just want to get a victory so badly for the seniors and for the team. They worked really hard. I'm going to tell you, this team worked so hard to get ready for today's game. I thought we had a few terrific moments and really made it tough on Vanderbilt, but at the end of the day, to be able to walk off that floor with a victory on Senior Day, there are not many better feelings than that. So, I'm really, really proud of the team. Certainly we didn't play the cleanest game in the history of the Coliseum. There were some tough times in it, but to get a win means everything. I'm really proud of our team and we're very, very happy that we finished out the season at home with a victory."

On locking up the No. 4 seed before the game started ...
"We didn't really talk about that. That wasn't any part of our focus or our preparation at all. Our focus and our sense of purpose came from trying to make sure we won for the seniors today. That was our focus today. We didn't really worry about seeding in the SEC Tournament. You know, I don't think we would be feeling very good sitting here today losing and wrapping up the No. 4 seed. That really wasn't on our minds. We wanted to win for the seniors."

On the importance of Senior Day ...
"Senior Day at Kentucky is real special because people care. You know, you go around the league to different places and you don't see what you see at Kentucky. This is an amazing day. The crowd was huge today with the threat of terrible weather and they still turned out and so we talked about that Friday and Saturday. This is a meaningful day because it means so much to people and that's why you want to win it so badly for these seniors. They've given a lot to the program. They've contributed so many victories, but they've also contributed so many things off the court that nobody ever sees and they've impacted my life in an unbelievable way and I'm real grateful that I've had a chance to coach them and I'm real grateful for the relationships that we've built and that we'll continue to have once they leave. They're a real special group of people, and I love them a lot. I wanted to see them win today."

On the senior's contribution to the program ...
"I think that the seniors have all grown a lot since they've come here. When I observe them, you can see the growth and you appreciate how much work that they've put in to becoming the people that they are becoming. So, I was just really proud of the group."

On stretching the lead before Vandy closed the gap ...
"I thought (Vanderbilt) really built that through solid play. I don't think it was emotion at all. I thought when DeNesha (Stallworth) and Samarie (Walker) went to the bench that we just didn't have much inside presence, and that's where our advantage was. You really needed to get tough in there and make some decisions and get some reads against their 2-3 zone. They switched to that at the end and we started to get really spread out of the lane and that's exactly what they want you to do in that offense. It became such a struggle to score, as often times happens, you know you let your offense effect your defense and you just cannot do that. I thought we played an incredible 14 or 15 minutes in the first half and then we just allowed Vanderbilt to execute some things and we didn't do a very good job of attacking their 2-3 zone. They played some tough defense and I think that's what happened. I didn't think it was an emotional turn in the game. Now, when you start playing poorly, there is a big worry that we're going to get down and then you start knowing that everyone wants to win and so I was really proud of the team for playing steady enough to win because we never got it to a real comfortable situation to where it was like `well, we've got this one in the bag.' It was tough all the way down to the end, so really proud of the team for hanging in and getting the victory."

On if DeNesha Stallworth is back to 100 percent health ...
"I think she's full speed and looking good and approaching practice well and all of the things that she needs to be doing to be a good player. I think she's there."

On having to play Florida and then South Carolina possibly in the SEC Tourney ...
"I wasn't aware of that. Can we cancel the trip? Maybe we should just cancel the trip. That was a joke. Just joking. What we'll do is we'll look at it as a great opportunity to go down and win a championship. When you get a double-bye, you look at your bracket and you can make a game plan for who you might potentially see, but it really does you no good focusing on one team or the other. If it were to be Florida, it would be a great opportunity to try and see how much we've improved. They were able to beat us twice in the regular season, and so the way I look at it is I would welcome that opportunity. They're a very good team and a very tough team, but I think it would be terrific for our team to get a chance to see a real tangible way if we've improved or not and the same thing for South Carolina. I would only look at those as being terrific opportunities and I think our players would look at it exactly the same. I would think our players would be hungry to try and get that going. We know we have the capabilities of being a very good team and if you go down to that tournament with your mind on winning it, you need to be playing some great basketball against some great basketball teams. The way I'm going to approach it and the way I'm going to try and have the team approach it is that we're going down there to be champions and we need to have our mind set on that."

On Jennifer O'Neill's struggles offensively the last two games ...
"The only thing that I will talk to her about is I thought she passed up one 3. I was unhappy with just one play. I thought she should (have) stepped in and taken a 3. Sometimes, she just complicates it and then she shot-faked and then she shot this little funky runner. I just didn't think it was a mentally sharp play. I thought it was a 3 or, if she was going to drive, get to the rack and dump it down to the post player who was open too. Just mental focus. It's real simple with her. I want her attacking off of ball screens, I want her down and ready to shoot, I want her playing tenacious defense. I thought she let up a couple of times and let Jasmine Lister get to the bucket. But listen, she's been really, really good for us all year and she'll be good for us again before it's all said and done and we'll just talk to her about the things we talk to all of our players about and we'll evaluate this game and try and help them get better."

#13 Bria Goss, G
On her missed free throw with 13 seconds left...
"I just went up to the line, shot it the same way as I always do. It just went in and out, still very confident in my free throws, although I did miss the first two at the beginning of the game. It's just I don't look at any free throw differently; I just go up there and shoot with confidence."

On the team winning six of the last eight games down the stretch...
"I think it is very important; we put ourselves in position where no one else thought we could be. Where we were 5-5 but here we are a No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament. I think it shows our toughness and encouragement and support. I think that we really buckled down and got it together. We still have lots of room for improvement but going into the tournament we have a lot of confidence, we are playing well and we are going to do great things."

#11 DeNesha Stallworth, F
On her thoughts and emotions on Senior Night...
"Yes, I tried to hold it in. I got teary-eyed, it was very emotional. Just walking out on the floor being with my parents and giving Coach Mitchell a hug it was just tough and it is the last stretch, you want to keep winning and playing but there's always an end to everything. I am just grateful and thankful for everything."

On finally being back to 100 percent...
"Definitely, I feel like I am getting back to my flow. My main focus is rebounding and I realize you don't always have to be a scorer on our team, rebounding is our main focus because it gets our team out in transition to score."

On the team winning six of the last eight games down the stretch...
"I think us staying together was important because everyone could have gone their separate ways, and just say forget this. We did a great job of just staying positive and knowing we have more opportunities ahead of us to win games."

On how she thought she and Samarie played on the inside...
"Well, Coach told the guards in practice and the game that we have an advantage on the inside. So that was our big emphasis with the high-low being very important. I think Samarie and I played well for the most part. I think we just try and take advantage of our size and just continue to get the ball inside."


 

 

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