March 7, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Representing LSU is Coach Van Chancellor, Courtney Jones and Allison Hightower.
COACH CHANCELLOR: I want to give Vandy credit, they played well tonight. They have a lot of heart, they played tough, they did a great job.
LSU uncharacteristically this was not LSU today. We did not play like we have been playing for the last seven games. Turned the ball over, 18 points off second chance turnovers. The thing I can't get over, I watched the Tennessee/Auburn game, and I'm not saying it's bad, but the officials have grown in love with the offensive foul. It ain't but one offensive foul after another!
If I was paying good money to watch a game, I would want to see a little offense, and all the games I see today offensive foul, lord! That didn't have anything to do with our losing tonight, Vandy played!
We turned the ball over too much, didn't rebound the ball, they had a lot of heart down at the end. Questions?
Q. What did you feel happened in the last 7 minutes? You were tied at 8:07 and after that it was all them.
COACH CHANCELLOR: We had a breakdown in defense. We let Wirth get a wide open three, in the last eight minutes they shot a got one offensive rebound after another and they did a great job of executing in that eight minutes, and then we couldn't score. And because we couldn't score that affected our ability to defend.
Q. Allison, can you talk about what they did against you defensively tonight that gave you problems?
ALLISON HIGHTOWER: I thought they did a really good job on defense. They were playing me box and one, face guarding me the whole time, playing the zone on the rest of the team.
Q. Coach, we talked about upsets in this tournament, and this time it's 1 versus 2 tomorrow, can you talk about how that's shaped up? Are you surprised?
COACH CHANCELLOR: Yeah, I really was. I thought there would be more upsets in this tournament than there have been. Even though I thought Auburn was dominant today, and Vandy in the last eight minutes was really outstanding.
Q. Coach, can you talk about where you feel you guys are as far as the NCAA tournament goes and where you think you'll be seeded?
COACH CHANCELLOR: We won 6 out of our last 7 and 13 out of something, and we've been playing really good up until the last eight minutes of this game. I wouldn't want to think that's going to hurt us, because I think Vandy will I really thought they played really good.
And this small lineup for them has been outstanding and the coach has done a great job with their kids in this tournament, I'll give 'em credit for that.
Q. How did you feel about Tia tonight?
COACH CHANCELLOR: I thought she was fine, it was just we were thankful she didn't have other problems. She was fine. Hard to have 20 turnovers, give up 13 offensive rebounds and beat a good team.
Defensively they were really good. That's one thing I don't think they get enough credit for, they play really good defense and don't get enough credit for it.
Q. Courtney, did you feel like you guys, the supporting cast gave Allison enough support tonight when she struggled a little bit?
COURTNEY JONES: Sometimes we did try to get her open, but it was hard. Sometimes they would switch on the screens and she wasn't open. You're going to have games like that and we just needed to step up.
Q. Allie, do you feel like this loss is going to affect the confidence of the team going into the tournament?
ALLISON HIGHTOWER: I feel like we have time to prepare, get back and practice, get back to the basics and do the things that we need to do to come out in the tournament and compete.
COACH CHANCELLOR: I thought their seniors were outstanding. I thought Risper and Wirth took over the game and were pretty good tonight, certainly. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach, thanks.
THE MODERATOR: Vanderbilt with a 61 47 win tonight, representing the team is Coach Melanie Balcomb, and Jence Rhoads and Christine Wirth. Coach?
COACH BALCOMB: I think we did a much better job in the second half getting to the rim and offensive rebounding and attacking.
I thought they had a tremendous game plan, took our two shooters out of it, sagged and gave us fits in the first half defensively. I thought the other thing was picking up full court and pressing, I thought we did a great job picking up the pressure and creating tempo so we could get them in transition and start to wear them down.
Q. For most of the game, up until about 8 minutes left in the second half, it was close all the way, tied at 40 40 with about 8 minutes to go, what changed? ) That was the question.
COACH BALCOMB: I felt the pressure. The pressure in the backcourt, it gave us an opportunity to create transition points and turnover and steals and getting us more in transition.
And from that point on, I thought we got better looks wearing them down, making them work hard every possession for more than just half court as well as pushing the basketball.
Q. Coach, Allison Hightower scored 22 against you guys last time and 23 last night, she didn't have a very good game. Can you talk about what you did to hold her in check.
COACH BALCOMB: We put Mooney and Gibbs on her and kept rotating them. They did a great job of knowing where she was and pressured her and challenged every shot. I just thought we did a really good job knowing where she was and limiting her touches.
Q. We've heard about young teams in the tournament, and Vanderbilt is not considered one, but on a stretch tonight you had two freshman on the floor for a while. Can you talk about that?
COACH BALCOMB: That alley oop play we're going to have to put in. I just felt I said this this afternoon to somebody, I felt like somebody new was going to step up and was going to have to step up tonight, and I don't know why, but it was the two freshman and it was the two freshman.
Jence Rhoads was more aggressive going to the basket, she took more shots. Those three stepped up and got out of their box and their comfort zone and created a mismatch, trying to guard Jordan in the post, it gave us a post presence we needed, trying to guard Jence off the dribble when they focused so much on Risper and Meredith.
Q. Coach, there was a lot of talk coming into the tournament about the parity in the league this year. We've only had two underdogs per se. Can you comment on we have the 1 versus the 2 now, and how this is shaping up?
COACH BALCOMB: It's really weird because I thought the same thing, from top to bottom this league, anybody could beat anybody this year, and I thought that happened.
Going into this, we've always when we've gotten to the final or won it, we've always been an underdog and a lower seed. To me, this is the highest seed we've ever had and the first time I remember 1 and 2 since I've been in it for 7 years that have gotten to it in the final. Usually there are upsets. It surprised me.
Q. Christina, 3 points, started the 27 1 run to finish it. What did y'all feel going into that stretch when you pulled away?
Christina Wirth: I just I don't know, it was an amazing three, and I think that right there we just decided every time out we kept saying 40 40, it was 0 0, and it's going to come down to who wants it more.
And those last 7 minutes we had people step up on every single play on offense and defense, Jordan grabbed a few huge rebounds. It was a battle, both teams were pretty tired toward the end, but we just kept fighting and we didn't stop for 40 minutes, so it came down to hustle plays and attacking the basket. We never stopped attacking.
Q. Jence, same question.
Jence Rhoads: I think our defense and our pressure made us more comfortable on offense, too. We were able to get some easy baskets and just attack without having all five people. We had numbers every time and we were more comfortable in what we were doing and we were able to pull ahead.
Q. For the players, could you talk about your Coach talked about the freshmen stepping up, but you do have an experienced team and I think it showed tonight. Talk about why that's going to be important tomorrow night, especially in a setting like this.
Christina Wirth: It's the championship game and we're excited about it. You know, Auburn is an experienced team, too, so I don't think that one team has an advantage in that category, but it's great when you have experienced players on the floor to keep you relaxed.
That's what I was trying to do today when it was close, to say we're fine, calm down, there is a time and a place we need to get everyone riled up. There is a time and place to relax and play our game.
You know, it's nice because last year we were a young team and this year we do have experience, so hopefully we can take advantage of that. We have played Auburn, we're familiar with each other, so the experience factor will be you may have to find new ways to score, different ways to get the job done, and we will be okay doing that.
Jence Rhoads: It will be important to keep our composure. We all look to our seniors, and obviously Meredith as the more experienced and the more experienced players because they've all played in a championship game. We'll be looking to them for advice and to lead us as we play tomorrow.
Q. You're still processing this game, but talk about Auburn and how it's more about stopping Bonner, but obviously that's a handful, too.
COACH BALCOMB: I thought I was done! I checked out! I apologize. Tomorrow, Auburn. Yes, I didn't watch the second half tonight, I watched the first half. We just have to play tremendous team defense.
Bonner is very, very good as we know, but the supporting cast is very good, too. It's not like you can take one player out and the rest of the kids are just young. They're very experienced, all upper classmen and this is a game that is going to come down to who wants it more, and I think who plays harder.
Both teams know each other very well, both teams will have a great game plan ready to go. The shortness and the time is not going to matter, we'll both be ready, it will be a good game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.