Second round practice day quotes

March 24, 2013

Gampel Pavilion · Storrs, Connecticut
Sunday, March 24

Melanie Balcomb, Vanderbilt Head Coach

How much better is UConn when Bria Hartley is playing well?
"I don't know how much better UConn can get. I think they're very, very good to begin with. Like you guys said, with an engine like Bria Hartley has, and her playing the way she played, obviously they would be at the top of their game. Point guards are that important, they have the ball in their hands that much. It's like your quarterback being on."

Is there a formula to prepare for teams like UConn?
"There is no formula. I think it's just the fact that I like a challenge and I like to be the underdog. My teams will reflect that, they like the challenge and to be the underdog. I have to prepare them mentally probably more than physically. Physically, we are who we are right now. But I have to prepare them to come in here and not already be beaten. I think a lot of teams that play UConn or Tennessee are already beaten before they step on the floor. We can't do that tomorrow."

Why did you play Jasmine Lister so many minutes?
"I play Jasmine 40 minutes because I trust her. Coaches play who they trust. I don't think she's the best point guard in the country. I don't really compare her to anybody. She's the best point guard I have in my program. I seem to always play one kid; I always have that forty minute kid on my teams. It happens to be Jasmine Lister because she thinks like me and I trust her. She's not going to go out there and think she's lost before she has stepped on the floor. She's going to be ready for this challenge. She's always been an underdog with her size, and she's going to fight to the last buzzer."



Do you think the SEC play prepared you for UConn?
"That's hard to say because when you're in your conference and watching your conference, you're so overwhelmed with scouting the team you're going to play and preparing for the next team. So I don't get to watch a lot of national games. Obviously, UConn is on a lot nationally so I had seen them a lot. I think we still put the big games on and they're the big team in the big games. So I think it's hard to compare."

Do you think your team can handle UConn's physical play?
"I think it's a lot about matchups in March and it's a lot about intimidation defensively. We do see that in the SEC. They know going into Kentucky or South Carolina what they are going to face. You can't go into the games thinking you're going to get hit all the time. You have to be the aggressor and you have to hit. You can't go in thinking you have to be strong and take hits. No, you need to give some hits. They know what they need to do because they have seen how physical and aggressive Connecticut is. Those two words just keep coming up when you play certain teams. They're just so aggressive and they attack constantly."

Do you recruit players more to play in the SEC Conference or for Vanderbilt?
"I think, for me, at Vanderbilt, it's very different. I don't recruit for the conference so much, because I get my players from all around the country, which Geno Auriemma does too because they're so good. I recruit nationally because of our academics. We don't have a lot of kids from the south. I think there are two pieces of it. One piece is the conference, exposure, names and rivals. But then there's the geography piece of how far a kid wants to go away from home. Geno has been able to draw kids from everywhere so he probably won't see the effect as much as some of the other programs."

Do you think Tennessee's program will be impacted with the departure of Pat Summitt?
"I think it already has. Pat is a legend. Like we say, she's the John Wooden of her game. How can it not? Over a long period of time we'll have to determine what that impact is. But you'd have to be lying to say that it's not going to impact them. If Geno left here would it impact Connecticut's recruiting? Yes. Holly Walick has done a great job. I'm a huge fan of her. I think the world of her. What she did this year was phenomenal by the way, to be Coach of the Year and win to prove everyone wrong. But that's not the question you asked me. There will definitely be an impact."

Tiffany Clarke, Vanderbilt Forward

Does playing Tennessee prepare you for a game against an opponent like Connecticut?
"Being that a lot of the teams in the SEC are top-25, we play teams like UConn all of the time with the crowd being huge, the atmosphere being crazy, and the environment intense. I think the SEC has prepared us for what we are going to face. I don't think it will be anything we haven't faced before being we played Tennessee, we played Texas A&M, Georgia, Kentucky, teams that bring that atmosphere. I don't think the atmosphere is going to be anything that is new to us."

On facing Connecticut's front court size:
"I think that we have met that challenge, like I said you see a lot of that in the SEC as well. The SEC is filled with athletes, tall guards, big guards, big posts. I think we have a way to face that because we have seen it before. It is nothing that we haven't seen before. We've seen tall front court before, intense defense before, and we've seen good offenses before, I don't think its anything new we haven't seen."

Is there something from your team that resembles the Notre Dame team who beat UConn?
"I think from watching film, I think we are a very tough team, a very physical team. Therefore, we can battle with them that way. I know it's going to be very physical because they are physical. I think we can compete with them by being physical and being tough right back."

Jasmine Lister, Vanderbilt Guard

Does playing Tennessee prepare you for a game against an opponent like Connecticut?
"As Tiffany said, basketball is a game of runs, so we just have to win our runs. With teams like UConn and Tennessee, big names, they will make runs and their crowd will get into it. We just have to limit their runs. We are well prepared."

On managing not to get tired, despite your high minutes:
"It's definitely come down to a mental game now. I had to learn to manage that after my freshman year. Like last year we had injuries, this year we have injuries. It just comes down to how mentally tough you are. I know when to change speeds, I know when to go fast, I know when to go slow, so it is just a matter of practicing that and knowing when in every certain situation to go fast. Therefore, I don't have to go at top seed during the whole game, on offense I can go slow, on defense I can go fast."

Whose defense that you have played compares to that of Connecticut? "The one I can compare them with would be either South Carolina or Kentucky. The pressure, the most athletic guards that we have gone against is definitely Kentucky and South Carolina."

Do you embrace the challenge like playing a premier point guard in Bria Hartley?
"I mean definitely. I love to take the opportunity that is placed in front of me. Once again it is just another game, another way to get our name out there and advance. I don't see it as a huge obstacle. She's a great player and the whole team is great players. I think that I am ready and I'm prepared."

Is there something from your team that resembles the Notre Dame team who beat UConn?
"I mean Notre Dame didn't really care who UConn was. They didn't care about any of the rivalry or the hype and just played their game. I think we can do that too. We don't have to worry about who they are and can focus on what we can do."

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