Jan. 11, 2009
Melanie Balcomb, Vanderbilt Head Coach
On Ability as a Coach to Relax on a Lead:
"I never relax. I was tense until the clock hit zero. I just told the girls that we can never let up, never relax. We have to win every possession. This is all starting to be a blur already, but I remember hugging Tina (Wirth) and (Jennifer) Risper and saying `we did it!'"
On This Win Compared to Years Past:
"In years past, we had to play a perfect game. This time, our guards took people off their defense and Tennessee couldn't recover. We worked so hard on our athleticism and our guards just attacked."
On Keeping a Lead:
"I feel I made a mistake at Notre Dame and Alabama. Both of those games, we had a lead and lost it, resulting in either a close win or a loss. I knew that we needed a third effort tonight and that was our rebounding. We learned from all of our other games and that's how we did this."
On Strategy for Today's Game:
"Well I knew I wanted us to key in on (Shekinna) Stricklen. I wanted to make sure she couldn't get an interior ball because then they could either make the shot or get fouled and have free throw opportunities. In preparing for this game, I did it differently than we've ever prepared for Tennessee before. I decided we would have some fun. We put Tennessee uniforms and headbands on the guys, played Rocky Top, and made the crowd noise so deafening that they couldn't hear each other on the court. I think it definitely worked.
"Tennessee is a different game for us. It's almost like playing at a neutral site because the crowd looks different and sounds different because of the passion Tennessee fans have."
Merideth Marsh, guard
"Beating Tennessee as a junior is satisfying, but we wanted to do it for the seniors and for Coach. It's kind of hard having a never-ending rivalry. But here's the one thing that I want everyone to know: Vanderbilt is not peaking. Our season does not end here. We're going to keep getting better every game."
On Today's Game:
"We found out what we're good at and that's what is good about a win like this. We know how good we are and we all believe in each other."
On Personal Performance:
"I'm more than a shooter. I can pass and I can drive. I knew that we all had to attack for 40 minutes. In our four losses, we only played 23 or 25 minutes and we knew, to beat Tennessee, we would have to play aggressive basketball for 40 minutes. All week in practice, we keyed in on offensive rebounding. Our mentality was that we had to win every possession. We just outhustled and we played with heart and passion."
Christina Wirth, guard/forward
"This win feels wonderful. We just knew we had to get the wrinkles out after our loss against Notre Dame and our performance against Alabama. Coming out of the half, we knew we couldn't play not to lose, we had a lead and we were going to keep it."
On Vanderbilt's Ability to Beat Tennessee:
"I was confident. I knew we were going to win. We just had to believe in ourselves. We had a few missteps in the preseason. We just had to get better every game and keep climbing higher, and that determination helped us today."
Jennifer Risper, guard
"This win is pretty awesome, especially for it to come as a senior. I saw alumni in the crowd and I was so excited and honored to play for them."
On Ability to Play a Strong Second Half:
"We just took the lead into the locker room, had a different talk at halftime than we usually do, and we took the momentum into the second half and ran with it. We just have to come out and play every game and that's what we did. We just played so well today and I couldn't be more proud."
Pat Head Summitt, Tennessee Head Coach
"Vanderbilt was the better team from tip off to the end. They had an incredible ability to take us off the dribble. This is the most aggressive Vanderbilt team we have ever played and definitely the most aggressive team we've played this season. You have to give Melanie credit. You can't take a thing away from Vanderbilt. We simply did not go out there and represent. We've been playing a half a game, instead of a full 40 minutes. We need to go back and get our defense better."
On Inability to Push for 40 minutes:
"We struggled against Kentucky. We went into halftime against Rutgers with only 13 points. We have only played, at best, one good half. I don't know what to do about it at this moment, but I can tell you this: I don't think much of what I said mattered today. We got whipped."
On Vanderbilt's Zone Defense:
"We're inconsistent in our post game. We played well, but our problem today was our guards. Offense can affect defense with a young team and I think our stats reflect that."
"Rebounding is all about heart and desire. Players who rebound well do so because they have a competitive drive. We don't have any one person who rebounds like Candace (Parker), so we have to do it by committee."
On Having a Young Squad this Season:
"We had composure at times, and at others we didn't. We rushed quite a few times and that forced us to turn the ball over in one way or another. Vanderbilt put us into panic mode and we just shut down. We did not compete at a level that would allow us to even chip away at the lead Vanderbilt made.
Alex Fuller, forward
"We've lost before, but not this horribly. We just have to learn and move on. Vanderbilt just came at us and would not stop. We knew they were known for their drives this season, and they didn't stop that because they got 40 points in the paint."
Kelley Cain, center
"I'm getting more comfortable with my knee after coming back from surgery. We came in here knowing that we could do this, but it's one thing to say something and another to do it. We're going to take what happened and learn from it. We have never lost this badly and we don't want to feel it again."