March 24, 2009
Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb:
"I thought it was a great game for both teams. I think Kansas State played their hearts out. They played very physical and tough. The game was very back and forth back and forth. I felt like in the second half we started to wear them down and got in transition as much as we could. I think that made a big difference down the stretch. I think our kids rebounded better, defended better and took the three point shot away. Which was the game plan but wasn't that effective in the first half but very effective in the second."
Could you talk a little bit about the game plan? It seemed like you had a hard time getting rid of the basketball and it seemed like the receivers were well covered too.
"Well what we wanted to do was keep her in front and play with one person. You know, four shooters shoot the ball instead of pass the basketball. So, we tried to play below all the ball screens on her and then stay with everybody else. She wants to draw somebody else and kick to three. She wants to get deep enough where she can draw a post over and dunk to a post. So, we tried to keep her up high enough. The goal was to keep her in front and let her get deep enough so you wouldn't draw another post. When she did spin the other post wasn't going to run over. We forced her to take shots and tried to force her to shoot the ball instead of kicking out to open shooters. You saw early on we had her one time where we didn't play the ball screen right and we ran into it going over top instead of under and the guard in the corner ran out and I called a time out immediately and told them that that was absolutely not the game plan and it was not going to be accepted. I wanted to send that message immediately that we were going to stick to the game plan and we needed to stay focused on what out plan was."
You talked about guarding Lehning in the first half, just talk about the job she did.
"Everybody stepped up in different ways. Lauren Lueders stepped up on offense and her ability to drive. Jessica Mooney stepped up on defense and I think she really got aggressive especially in the second half. It was frustrating her, turning her, making her work. They run a half court offense and they walk it up and they rest a lot and we really had to make her work. You can't press because she will dribble through the press and she will kill you in the back because they have shooter back there. So, we just kind of picked up full man and picked her up full court instead of setting up a zone press the she could probably break by herself."
What surprise's me is offensive boards with a full guard offense. Is that a surprise at all or did you think that might happen?
"That is something we have worked hard at. 14 offensive rebounds because we are smaller and because of our quickness we like to tip the ball out. We tip it and get it out to the free throw line and get that second and third effort. At half time that was on of the things I talked about. We try to get 20 or more every single game. Any time we get 20 or more offensive rebounds we win. Believe it or not against a lot of bigger, stronger athletes in the SEC we have been getting a lot of offensive rebounds that nobody expects us to get. Sometimes it is easier to check out big, tall slow players than it is little, quick ones. So, we get in there and tip it out and then we try to hustle and get all the loose balls. We did not do that in the first half, but we did that in the second half."
Can you talk about what it means to your program to have two seniors like the young ladies that were sitting next to you?
"It is a great position to be in, having two seniors that represent Vanderbilt the way that we want to represent it. What you guys get to see on the court and the amazing players on the court. They want to keep playing and they are unselfish and will do whatever it takes for the team to be successful. Tonight they needed to score points. These are two players that I can't say enough about. I don't know if I have ever had any players that work as hard as they do every single day, but its for the team, its not for themselves and its just a pleasure to coach kids like that. It's a pleasure to have other kids that step up for them. Them stepping up for Hannah Tuomi has been huge. It has been a very, very big focus for both of them. It's never been about them and in turn good things are happening to them. It's a great lesson to learn."
Why do you think Jennifer (Risper) is so successful down and under against those smaller people?
"It is because she is not small. She is just a big guard. I just have to tell you she has a bigger heart than anybody, so she plays big. If I tell her to drive and attack, she is going to drive and attack. When we need to hit the post players, she will do whatever you ask her to do at the highest level. Her athleticism and strength will allow her and she is very athletic and very strong. If I am a big post player, I hate playing against kids like Jennifer Risper. I think it's a lot harder even for her. Defensively I think she has an advantage and offensively she's got an advantage. She is a positive kid and that has brought on to the fact that all we tell her is what her advantages are, not her disadvantages."
It's 46-46, (Ashley) Sweat picks up her fourth foul and (Marlies) Gipson soon after that, can you talk about how the tide changed at that point?
"Again that is (Jennifer) Risper. She had 27 points. What we always joke about is that if Jennifer Risper scores in double figures we will win. She had 27 and what we haven't talked about a lot is the free throw line, she had nine of those points from the free throw line and that was attacking their post players to get them on the bench. Knowing they didn't want to come out of the game. We kept telling them how many points they had and how they were killing us because of the size disadvantage we have, so she would take it at them to get to the free throw line to get them out of the game. That was part of the game plan."
Monday Game Day Quotes Vanderbilt Players: Jennifer Risper Christina Wirth
Christina, you guys were down most of the first half and still down by one at half-time, but it seemed like the flow and the pace of the game favored you even then, did you guys feel that way?
Christina: "Yeah, towards the end of the first half we started making a run and we were talking about how we were getting into our tempo and the way we were doing that was by rebounding and pushing. I think that is when the game started to change a little bit. That's the tempo we want and we know what we needed to do to get that, and we weren't doing that in the beginning of the first half, but I think like you said, I felt like we even had the momentum going into halftime, even though we were down by one and then we carried that over into the second-half."
Christina, can you talk about your mind-set coming into the game?
Christina: "We watched film, I've seen them play before, and we knew they were a great team. People compare them to us a lot and say that we are very similar. I think more than that, we were talking about the differences and the things that we are going to need to exploit and things we were going to need to take advantage of. We knew this was going to be a fight, and it sure was, they're a great team. Their post players are tough. Shalee Lehning is a great point guard and runs that team. It wasn't easy, but we knew that coming into it. I think that was our mind-set, just knowing that we were going to have to fight for 40 minutes."
Christina, can you talk a little bit about the game that your counterpart sitting next to you had? That was pretty amazing.
Christina: "I'd love to. She was amazing. I had no idea she had 27 points and that's amazing. She just fought. She has just embraced this new role as post and is doing amazing with it. People will talk about, "oh, Vanderbilt is struggling," but she is doing an amazing job and we've had so many players set-up, and Jenn is obviously one of them. Lauren Lueders was amazing tonight, I have to say that, and she stepped up big time. Jen just had an amazing game and that is nothing unusual for her. She was taking advantage of her strengths and her quickness, and was just working hard."
Jennifer, you got to the rack quite often tonight, can you talk about why you were able to do that and why Kansan State didn't stop you?
Jennifer: "It's kind of like what Tina said, I am 5'9" and I have a lot more guard skills than post skills, so I just tried to take advantage and do the things that I'm good at which is driving and getting to the hole. We workout a lot with our trainer, so just trying to be stronger down there and be physical and basically, try to finish most of my shots."
Jennifer, just to follow-up on that, you never had to score that much in any game, but it just come to you tonight, is it that simple?
Jennifer: "I just did whatever it took for this team. Sometimes, there are games where I have to pass more or rebound more, and I just tried to do whatever the defense was giving me. My teammate kept passing to me and I kept attacking. I saw that they weren't stopping that, so I wanted to keep doing that and getting them into foul trouble.
Jennifer, you talked about being able to play in front of your family on Friday, how does it feel to be able to perform like that in front of them tonight?
Jennifer: "It was pretty amazing because going to Tennessee they don't get to come to a lot of games and they don't get to travel as much as some of the other parents do. It meant a lot to me for them to be able to come, especially for our team to win. I could have had a horrible game, but if we had that win, that's what I want my family to see. And one thing too, I want them to know why I came to Vanderbilt, to see our fans, our team, and how much support and encouragement we have here. I just wanted them to be able to see that, and I think they saw that."
Christina, you are 4-0 at the Pit, what are your thoughts about coming back to Albuquerque?
Christina: "I love this place. We were excited, Jenn and I were especially excited that we were getting sent back here because our families could come. We're seniors and my parents don't get to come to a lot of games and it is exciting to know that they were going to be here. People can say, "you just like this gym," it's not about that, we come here and we are ready to play and we out worked these teams, like we've been doing all year long. I do love this place; it's been good memories."