POSTGAME QUOTES Game 1 - #7 Vanderbilt 60, #10 Middle Tennessee 46 March 18, 2012
VANDERBILT COACH Melanie Balcomb Opening statement... "Well obviously it was a hard fought both games by both teams. Middle Tennessee really had a great gamelan and really took Steph (Stephanie Holzer) and Tiff (Tiffany Clarke) out of it in the first half in foul trouble and taking (Christina Foggie's) threes away. We really had to step up our defense and I am just really proud of our defensive effort and forcing them to shoot (28.1%) from the field like we did. We took away their strengths and really communicated and really locked them down in the second half and I thought was huge."
On getting Vanderbilt's post players in foul trouble... "I knew before the tip that they couldn't guard (Stephanie Holzer) or (Tiffany Clarke) or our high-low. I saw on film that they take a lot of charge and they are going to fall down a lot and that's what they do. I was very frustrated that we fell into that and that we didn't play smarter. We were prepared for it and they executed really well and got us on the bench. We played much smarter in the second half, but that really limited their time on the floor which limited their points."
On Stephanie Holzer still being effective playing with foul trouble... "I think that is the key, how they came back with three fouls and what they did. In the past early on when they got in foul trouble they got frustrated and emotional and then when they came back in they were still struggling. They couldn't come back in and help us because they kept doing the same thing. They couldn't play through their mistakes and move forward. They were living in the past and what had just happened. We have worked very hard at getting them to the point where they can forget what they did in the first half. I sat down with Tiff (Tiffany Holzer) and said `you are going to go back out there and you are going to be focused and you are going to go back out there and you are going to play without fowling and I trust you. I trust that you can come in and make an impact and when this game is over and we win it, you are going to still be on that floor. You will not foul out.' She looked at me and said, `OK, I can do that.' It's been tough for both of them all season at different times. This is the first time that is both of them in one game. I know I haven't had them both that deep in foul trouble that early at the same time. We usually have one or the other."
On giving up 25 offensive rebounds but only 4 second-chance points... "That's where we were getting in foul trouble early in the second half, we were going for every shot fake. They can't shoot up over us so they are trying to get under us. So, they get us up and go under or go by on the dribble. In the second half we played smarter, which was out game plan from the start, make them shoot up over us. If they get inside us and miss the shot, then they are inside to get the offensive rebound and then you are behind and that's where we were getting the fouls. Not on the first shot but on the offensive. When you see 25 offensive rebounds that is what got us in foul trouble. When we limited that in the second half, and even when they got the offensive rebound, we stayed straight up and made them shoot over us again so on the offensive board, you saw us limit our fouls."
On the play of Elan Brown... "Elan Brown was huge and it is very fair to say that. The two people up here, obviously, had big games but Elan Brown has played so well in practice every day. Foggie (Christina Foggie) has been under the weather and hasn't been practicing a lot, so Elan has been practicing and she has been starting and she has gotten better and better and her confidence, she is one the smartest players that I have ever coached. Offensively and defensively she just gets it now. I have called her the glue all season, but today she was more than just the glue. With those guys out, she really held it all together. Then, he cramped up and Kady (Schrann) got an ankle sprain. I just kept looking at the bench and thought what else was going to happen. I am just really proud of how we fought through the adversity. I teased them after the game and said that I even cramped up, that's how bad it was getting. One thing kept happening after another, but we still won the game because we stuck together. People and came off the bench and were very well prepared and really settled it down and played well until our players could get back in that make huge impacts. It was nice to see. It was a great team win today."
VANDERBILT STUDENT-ATHLETES Jasmine Lister On coming back after Middle Tennessee tied it up... "We knew they were going to execute their game plan. We knew they were going to fight until the end. It didn't surprise us that they were maybe going to come back and get the lead or maybe tie with us. So our plan was to just fight through, just mentally, and to execute our plays down the stretch."
On pressure today versus the SEC season... "A lot through the SEC, they full-court pressured me, but today it wasn't as much. So that was kind of a relief and it gave me time to just, not relax, but to just settle down and get my teammates in the right spot to make a play. It was helpful."
On Stephanie Holzer returning in the second half... "She brought a lot of rebounds and she got a lot of putbacks and it really gave us a lot of momentum on offensive and in the defensive end."
On possibility of playing in the Sweet 16... "We need to stay level headed and don't fear that we are playing maybe Duke or maybe Samford. We just need to prepare and to take care of our bodies, definitely off the court, and just be ready to play, have a good practice tomorrow too."
Elan Brown On shutting down perimeter players, Shanice Cason and Kortni Jones in particular... "We worked on that all week. We kind of did, almost like a box-in-one, but more like a man-to-man and we face-guarded her. So we just wanted to deny as much as we could her getting the ball, which I think it worked out for us, especially when we went to a switching man."
On Stephanie Holzer returning in the second half... "Yeah, I think Stephanie...she's always got that big presence, but I think what a lot of people don't see is that she really encourages her teammates and brings a lot of energy to us."
On quieting Kortni Jones down in the second half... "Yeah, I think it was just the refocus. Sometimes we come out in a little slump in the second half and we just needed to come together and refocus and make sure that we lock down on their key players."
MIDDLE TENNESSEE HEAD COACH RICK INSELL Opening statement... "We did a good job getting back into the game after half time and were able to tie it up before letting our offense get away. We were freelancing a little bit on the perimeter and we didn't make a shot or two inside and they took advantage of it. They slipped a screen one time and we couldn't cover it and they hit a three and then we missed a defensive assignment and they hit another three and that gave them a cushion. They played well. We outrebounded but they made shots and got some chip shots when they needed to which is what needs to happen in the tournament. We give them credit and they made the plays they needed to make."
On the first half... "We did exactly what we needed to do. We had three of their post players with three fouls and we did a pretty good job with [Christina] Foggie and a pretty good job with [Jasmine] Lister early but we just didn't take advantage of it."
"I can't fault my kid's effort. They gave me everything they had and it was hot in the gym. Don't get me wrong, that's not an excuse because it was hot for them [Vanderbilt] too. We just didn't do what we needed to do."
On another early exit from the NCAA tournament... "I can't answer that. I can't do any better. I'm not going to fault them [the players]. It's just one of those things. Sometimes it goes in the basket and sometimes it doesn't go in the basket. Maybe we wanted it too much. I feel that this little bunch has overachieved this year and I'm awful proud of them. If you look, they aren't real big, they're not real fast, and we're not a great defensive team and sometimes we don't shoot the ball real good, but we have 26 wins. We got to the NCAA tournament and we played a good team in their gym today and we battled so I'm very proud of us out there."
On Vanderbilt... "I felt really good about our basketball. We came in this morning and had a great walkthrough and we had a great shootaround yesterday afternoon. They had a great attitude and great body language. Vanderbilt, they aren't a bad basketball team. If you ask me, they are pretty good. It wasn't like we were playing a rinky-dink out there, they are a pretty good basketball team. They have a good basketball IQ and they have a big girl inside who got some good putbacks and they have a physical kid in [Tiffany] Clarke. It was a battle out there."
"It wasn't Vanderbilt. We wanted the game. I don't care if we're playing Baylor. We wanted to get this first game out of the way and we didn't do it."
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STUDENT ATHLETES Ebony Rowe, sophomore forward On getting Vanderbilt's post players in foul trouble early... That was our game plan, was to get their post in foul trouble and I have to credit our guards for getting us the ball and that's exactly what did. So in the first half we executed and when we came back we executed that game plan of getting their post in foul trouble. In the second half, they still got us the ball but we couldn't hit shots. A few calls can't go our way but we can't rely on that. We didn't really finish well in the post in the second half. I think that is when we started going away from our game plan.
On not finishing put backs... I would say a lot of it was not putting in put backs. Some of those were just chasing down long balls and just getting out running plays. A lot of it was missing chip shots but some of it was just hustler rebounds and starting the play over.
On the length of Vanderbilt players They are big girls but we played against that all year. Like coach said, I credit them for coming to play and their big girls really came to play.
On Stephanie Hoizer's second half performance... She's a great player and we did get her out of the game which was part of our game plan but when she came back in I guess she started playing smarter. She knew she had three fouls and wasn't going for a lot of fakes. We missed chip shots at the basket so if we hit a couple of those and we might have a different outcome. She's a good player and she did effect the game when her and (Tiffany) Clarke came back in the game.
Kortni Jones, junior guard On getting use to Vanderbilt's gym... We came in yesterday and got a lot of shots up and came in this morning and got a lot shots up so I wouldn't say it was necessarily the gym. I feel like we kind of rushed our shoots when they would run at us. And our shooters just slowed down but I wouldn't say it was the gym.
On shooting in the first half... It was just a matter of not executing. Our coaching staff harped on us being able to execute the offense and being coachable and I think we kind of went away from that in the first half. Came out the second half and we were coachable and made the comeback and then we went away from our offense so we can't blame anyone but ourselves.
On today's atmosphere... It felt like home and that's one thing that keeps us going. That's one of the main reasons we play as hard as we play. We love our fan base and they are 100% supportive. It always feels good to feel like you are at home. I'm very thankful, very blessed and I know my teammates are too, to have the fan base that we do have.