Women's Hoops: USC press conference

(VandyMania Photo)

<i>After Vanderbilt's 66-57 loss to South Carolina, the Vanderbilt coach and players met the press. First, Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb answered questions. </i>

The Press: Coach, in your postgame comment, I think you might have mentioned that South Carolina beat you to the loose balls and other hustle plays. Was there a lack of energy for you guys?

Coach Balcomb: Yeah, I think there was a spell there where the game was tight and close and we missed a lot of layups and easy shots. I think it knocked the wind out of our sails, and defensively we started standing around and gave them second and third shots and fourth shots, and loose balls,and they out-hustled us at that point.

The Press: Do you think the small crowd took away the home court advantage?

Coach Balcomb: I hope that was it. Yes, you know, I don't ever want to make an excuse for the team. It would have been nice to have a home court, it would have been nice to have a third official. Those two things we could have used tonight, I think. But that's no excuse, I think, for having the energy and getting out-hustled on loose balls and getting beat on the boards like we did.

The Press: What can you say about Jocelynn Penn, 11 for 12, 27 points?

Coach Balcomb: We did a good job on Jocelynn in the first half. She had six points, and we had taken away, I thought -- One of our keys was stopping her in transition where she gets so many of her points. And in the second half, we went man to man because we couldn't check out and weren't checking out, and we were standing in our zone. So we just had to play some man for a while. And I knew that was tough mis-match for us, and that's why we weren't in man to begin with, and then and she got some good baskets on drives and inside moves. She's very athletic, and that's a tough matchup for us sizewise. She's quick and athletic, and we're big.

The Press: Who all did you have on her when ya'll did go man?

Coach Balcomb: That all depended on transition. There's never one person. We play a transition numbered break defense, so it wasn't like one person was on her, and we kept rotating our post players. So it was who happened to pick her up at that time. There was no one set person.

The Press: Does it bother you that Mac is playing 40 minutes? Are you afraid that it is going to wear her out?

Coach Balcomb: To be honest with you, I thought Ashley MdElhiney came to play, and played for 40 mintues and played with heart. I think somebody else has got to help her out. It was like she was trying to beat them one on five. She was ready to play, she played a great game, she came out very aggressive, but everybody else kept standing around and watching Mac play. I was very very impressed with Mac's game. And, I hate to to say it -- but she had one less board than everybody, but she had probably the most loose balls, she had a lot of boards. She had all the hustle stuff and was trapped the entire night in their press and on ball screens. So I just wish that we had some of our players play at the same level she played tonight.

The Press: It looked like for a stretch that Tia and Earl gave you ya'll a lift off the bench.

Coach Balcomb: Yeah, Ashley Earley the second time I put her in came out a lot more aggressive. She's very strong and aggressive, and that's what we needed against this team. And then Tia, we asked her to really give us more aggressive play defensively, and I thought she gave us some sparks defensively, which is really what her role is, and she did that.

The Press: Coach, were many of the 18 3-point shots out of the offense, or just a bad shooting night?

Coach Balcomb: I thought we got great looks. I thought they were in the flow, and I would just say a bad shooting night even down the stretch. Jenni had a wide open three, Abi had a wide open three. I thought we got the shots we wanted, and just didn't make them. We missed at least 7 to 9 layups. . . . I thought we got good attemppts, good looks. I was very comfortable with what we were doing offensively, the ball just wasn't going in the basket.

The Press: Are you worreid about being 0-2 down in the SEC, with top teams still ahead of you like LSU and Tennessee. What do you think can be done to right the ship?

Coach Balcomb: We need to get our first win and decide that we're ready to play in the SEC. I think what's tough is in this league you can't afford to lose games at home. You've got to protect the home court. And it was difficult situation for us today, but I think we still had the opportunity to do that, and we didn't. We gotta come back strong; it's a three-game home stretch, and we need to come back against Kentucky.

Coach Balcomb left the room, then senior center Chantelle Anderson, senior point guard Ashley McElhiney, and sophomore guard Tia Battle took their places for questions fromt the press.

The Press: Ashley, against Holy Cross you talked about how great the crowd was. How tough was it to play tonight from that standpoint?

Ashley Mac: I don't think we can use that as an excuse. That had nothing to do with our performance and us coming ready to play 40 minutes. We're used to that type of environment on the road. We were at home, just with a few fans. We had fans there. But we should create that home envrionment ourselves within the team, and that had nothing to do with our performance and the way we played.

The Press: Ashley, can you pinpoint what the team didn't do tonight that you expected them do to?

Ashley Mac: We didn't come to play for 40 minutes. I think we played with the intensity we had at Mississippi State for about 5 minutes the entire game. At Mississippi State we got beat, but it wasn't because of effort and the heart issues like enthusiasm and all that. Tonight, it was more about effort and coming and being ready to play. Someone that has beaten us time after time for forty minutes, and we didn't do that from top to bottom.

The Press: Tia, can you talk about trying to stop Jocelynn Penn? She had a real big second half.

Tia: Well, actually, I didn't guard her too much. I don't think at all.

Chantelle: I didn't really guard her either, but -- (laughter from press)

The Press: Is that why she got 27 points?

Chantelle: The people who guarded her are not in this room. But she's a great player, and we did a good job for the most part of taking away her transition points, like she gets about half of her points running the floor and on loop passes and passes over the defense, and we did a good job of taking that away for the part, but then we let her score in the halfcourt.

The Press: Chantelle, from your point of view, do you think Vandy taking 18 3-pointers is out of character for this team?

Chantelle: I don't know, no, I don't think so. Is that average?

The Press: I couldn't tell you either, but five of 18 is tough to live with, and that's what you guys shot tonight.

Chantelle: Yeah, it was obvious that our shots were not going in, not just from the 3-point line. I missed a couple of layups, Ashley missed some, Jenni missed some, Tia-- everybody missed layups, and we were missing 3's. Just because we were missing shots is not an excuse not to play defense. And that's what it was tonight. We were like, we're not scoring, so let's not play defense either. I don't know if 18 3-pointers is typical.

Ashley Mac: I think with our style of play we have shooters on this team, but we have to be able to recognize when our shots aren't falling and find other ways to score. And getting defensive stops and getting steals and pressuring the ball, that's one way to score and we didn't do it, and our shots weren't falling, like Chantelle said. But we have the capability of making more than five shots; it just wasn't happening tonight.

The Press: This team's lost two tough games, what does it need to do bounce back?

Chantelle: Well, get an attitude about winning.

Ashley Mac: Well, obviously the 2 games are behind us now. We've got another one Sunday against another good SEC team. We can't dwell on what we just did the past two games. We've got to get in the gym tomorrow and correct the things that we didn't do tonight and get a tougher mentality -- every time we step on the floor, at the beginning, at the halftime, for 40 minutes.

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