THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, and student-athletes. We'll take an opening comment from Coach Balcomb and then take questions.
COACH BALCOMB: You know, I just think today we lacked focus. We missed assignments defensively. We gave too many open looks to their great shooters and didn't defend and rebound, which is how you win games right now. It's tough because we know each other so well, and they played like Tennessee and we didn't take their strength away. They did a better job taking our strengths away.
Q. Jence, in the first two games against Tennessee, you really hurt them from three-point range. They seemed more committed to taking that away today. Was that kind of the case?
Jence Rhoads: I think so. I think that was definitely one of their focuses. They probably worked on that. Coach Summitt probably talked about that in their practices and preparation.
So I'm sure that was one of their focuses, and they were pretty successful at it.
Q. Can we talk about the defensive effort against Tennessee. Was it a matter of two games in two days? Tired legs? Obviously No. 4 in the nation, but...
Jence Rhoads: That's not an excuse. I know playing two games is hard, but that's not an excuse we can use for this game. Like coach said, we weren't focused. We had some lapses, and Tennessee took advantage of those lapses.
Hannah Tuomi: Came down to whichever team showed up with more focus and better game plan and executed all of it, so...
THE MODERATOR: Joining us from Tennessee, Head Coach Pat Summitt and student-athletes. We'll take an opening comment from coach and then questions. COACH SUMMIT: Well, I thought we did a much better job in the second half across the board, especially on the boards. We separated ourselves. I thought that Shekinna had to play a lot of minutes, but she did a good job pushing tempo, getting the ball where it needed to go. I thought our post game stepped up, and we got some good balance overall. It was just a good win for us because Vanderbilt, they know us and we know them. Melanie does such a great job with all the sets. I mean, they run more sets than I think I've run in maybe six years of coaching. But they do a great job. So we have to really talk our action and be invested. For the most part, thought we did a lot of good things.
Q. For both players, could you address your defense today. Vanderbilt hurt you guys on threes. ANGIE BJORKLUND: I just thought we really bought into our scouting report defense. We knew who were the shooters, who were the drivers. I thought that was key for us, especially in our switching defense, which helped us out really a lot. Getting out and switching the steal, getting out on the shooters. I just thought our team did a great job having that sense of urgency to not let them get the open looks that they got the last couple games we played them.
SHEKINNA STRICKLEN: I totally agree with Angie. Most of all we talked, we communicated with each other. We knew who the shooters were, so we switched and we like got out there, got at her before she could even touch the ball. I think a lot of it had to do that we limited Marsh's touches, so...
Q. Could you talk about that as well, too, because you shut them down from three-point range.
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think the reason being that we've worked a lot defending Vanderbilt obviously, you know, having played them as much as we have. I think this team this year really bought into our scouting report defense. They know us and how to close it out when we play Vanderbilt. Obviously they shoot the three ball well. So when you have three-point shooters, obviously you got to be mindful of how close you can get to support your team defensively. A lot of times, you know, we don't get in the paint. We cheat. We have what we call our cheat steps to close them out so we get defend the three ball. We've got to arrive when the ball arrives. Just a repetition movement in practice and having had Melanie, you know, at Vanderbilt, you us to know that's what you have to defend. So it forces us to have to work on it leading up to the time that we're playing them. The fact that, you know, we played them at home, we played them away, and obviously playing them here, you know, we've had a lot of practice at defending the three.
Q. They got off to a good beginning. They kind of got hot shooting. The first timeout, you came out an 18-4 run with a lead that you basically never gave up. Were you able to make any changes at that point to get the team going a little bit more? Was it a matter of you getting hot?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think we started a little slow, and we have in some games - probably too many games. But, you know, when you've got a potential championship on the line, you know, why would you not come and be ready to go? I think it's different playing Vanderbilt, okay, than some of the other teams that we play. So when you play them, you have to really change your thinking on what you're going to do. You know then that you've got to really close out long. You can't have short closeouts against them. They make you pay. Where the other teams we play haven't been as committed to the three ball overall. So it's just a matter of us having not defended constantly the three ball.
Q. Hannah Tuomi didn't have many points, but can you talk about her defensive effort against you.
COACH SUMMITT: She's really, really tough minded. I think the team looks to her because of her toughness and how hard she plays. She's a player that's going to get on the floor, she's going to come up with the loose ball, she's going to come up with a big basket. You know, I just think she's had a great influence on the personality of their team.
Q. I thought Brewer played well. She seemed to get on the rebounds a lot. Talk about her a little bit. Obviously when Cain does go out, you're giving her a little rest, Brewer does a good job of filling in.
COACH SUMMITT: Well, she started a little bit slow, I thought, more defensively. Obviously we discussed that and she responded. She's got a high basketball IQ. You just tell her, Wait a minute, you know, you're not getting paint points, and we've got to have you getting paint points. You're not as passionate in the defensive end, so you have to pick up your intensity. But as a freshman, there's been very little change. Now she's very coachable and she wants to help this team. So when we talk to her, I mean, typically she's going to respond in a very positive fashion.
Q. Vandy is a tough team. Does maybe some of that rub off when you're playing them? I thought you played pretty tough, especially on defense throughout the game.
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think because of how much we've played them we respect them. We know they're not gonna take any possessions off. They're going to be defending and rebounding. Even if they don't have the size that we have, they don't lack for heart and desire and commitment. I mean, that's Melanie. I've known Melanie for a long time. She's a terrific coach and a great motivator.