Second round postgame quotes

March 25, 2013

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Second Round · Connecticut vs. Vanderbilt
Gampel Pavilion · Storrs, Conn.
Monday, March 25

Melanie Balcomb, Vanderbilt Head Coach

Opening statement:
"You guys saw the score, they are a very good team. I think we were in the game, I thought we competed until halftime. Coming out of the locker room those first four minutes of the second half, I thought we were on our heels and they were very, very aggressive. I know they get a lot of turnovers and points off forced turnovers, but we never got them back. I think my team played hard. I think we fought. I am really proud of our player's efforts."

Can you talk about Connecticut's defense and the problems they present?
"Two things, they are very aggressive and anticipate very well. They also are very big and have huge size. Two things we see some quick teams and some big teams, but they are big and quick."

Can you fathom what it would be like to make 20-straight sweet-sixteen's?
"It's something that is incredible, something that I would strive to do as a coach and be blessed to have that kind of consistency. It's probably a record."

Can you talk about Christina Foggie's injury?
"I can't talk about her injury specifically. She was cleared to play and played. Obviously she wasn't the same player when she came back and that made it difficult for us. She was a shooter who played defensively, but struggled on defense, struggled getting shots off. I think it was a situation where we played the younger players when we had too. I wish we had Foggie when she was healthy. It is things that you have to fight through in a program with this season, it's part of the game. I would love to play with a healthy team that you plan to get, but that's not how the cards were dealt this season. As Tiffany and Jasmine said, I am really proud of what we did do. We did a lot of great things and I think if it weren't for these things we would've been as resilient as we were this year."

Can you talk about the difference Breanna Stewart can make on the court?
"She's so aggressive defensively, that's what surprised me. I knew she could score. I recruited her out of high school. But she can break the passes, play that hard defensively. She is a scoring machine and she can stretch the defense, but I didn't know she had that adjustment as a freshman. It's rare today what she was able to do."

On the difference between Connecticut and the competition Vanderbilt played in the regular season:
"I know you guys really wanted to talk about UConn more then us and we really weren't worthy of talking about us tonight. If you asked the players, UConn is different then Tennessee and the best teams we play. What is different is that they are excellent at both ends of the floor. We played some teams that were very good at defensive and their offense is not as good and we played some teams whose offense is good, but you could score on them. The difference is that UConn can play both. They have a chance to win a national championship, I believe, because they can play at both ends of the floor. That is what you saw tonight and that is why they are different then Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas A&M -- who we stayed with better."

Jasmine Lister, Vanderbilt Guard

Can you describe Connecticut's defense?
"I don't think they did anything I wasn't expecting, but they are very quick and can anticipate their passes which I'm not sure I've seen in my three years. I should've slowed down a little bit and made the extra pass to our shooters."

On the season:
"I think our team has matured over the past season and a lot of our teammates stepped up with the injuries. It was definitely a learning year and we have accomplished a lot of things that people don't see. We feel self-accomplished. I don't think we regret anything, I don't think anybody regrets anything about the season. As long as everybody feels like they won inside."

Can you compare Connecticut's play tonight versus what you saw against Tennessee and Kentucky?
"I think Connecticut has a really high level of intensity on defense and that's, to compare to Tennessee, we don't really see that as much. They push in transition exactly like Tennessee, they have open-shooters, they have a lot of options like Tennessee. It was just a matter of stopping them."

Can you talk about the seniors' legacy?
"The seniors have left a great legacy of hard-work and to step up as leaders. Over the past year is incredible, especially Tiffany. She wouldn't get out of her comfort zone last year but this year she was the best leader and best player I've ever played with on the court. Whenever coach asked them to do anything, they do it. There is no second guessing that they will get the job done."

What do you want to take away from this game?
"Staying to our defensive principles is key to the entire game and not to relax or take breaks. We need to understand to relax and help each other out on defense and take our time on offense."

Was there anybody on the Connecticut team that impressed you?
"I'd have to say Breanna Stewart, she's really good. I didn't think she was that tall standing next to her. The way she shoots the ball, carries herself and how quick and big she is incredible. She came off as very hard-working to me too, as she played defense and offense. Her game was great."

Tiffany Clarke, Vanderbilt Forward

What happened after halftime during the 17-0 run by Connecticut?
"They came out ready to play. They came out of the lockerroom with a higher sense of intensity and urgency and we didn't respond to it. That's what got them to the 17-0 run. They came out at half time, intense, with extra energy and we just didn't respond to it."

On the season:
"I am very proud of my team. We faced a lot of adversity this year, a lot more then most teams would face. We had every opportunity to become a victim and fade for the rest of the season, injury on injury came, we could've just gave up. I don't think we became the victim, we came closer together and fought through and proved a lot of people wrong because we made it here. A lot of people wrote us off, but we didn't write us off. I'm very proud of my team that we made it here and the season that we did in spite of everything we faced."

Can you compare Connecticut's play tonight versus what you saw against Tennessee and Kentucky?
"The level that they play at is something we see a lot, maybe a little bit more in Tennessee and Kentucky. They have very good players who may be stronger, but it's something that we have seen before at this intense level. They are a really good team."



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