Women's hoops tips off SEC play tonight at 6 p.m. against Alabama in Tuscaloosa. I sat down with Head Coach Melanie Balcomb and discussed the results the Commodores' preseason schedule and tonight's matchup with 'Bama.
Click here to read the game preview.
J: Going into SEC play, how do you assess the team’s progress thus far?
M: Obviously we’ve played all kinds of different teams that have done all kinds of different things to us. I think what it did is it gave us great learning experiences, and we have to learn from them. Whether we have or not you’ll see now in SEC play – how much we’ve learned from the types of different teams that we’ve played outside of conference that are very different matchups for us than SEC teams.
J: What specifically have you learned through the non-conference matchups?
M: We’ve tried all different lineups. We’ve tried playing different players at different positions. We’ve tried different defenses. Our offensive execution has not been strong. We haven’t been really good at anything. I think that’s one of the things that we’re working on, is trying to figure out what’s going to be our bread and butter, what are we going to be really good at, because you have to be really good at something. You can’t just be average at everything. I think that’s what the preseason’s for. Right now, I think we’re better defensively than we are offensively, and that’s where we were last year going into the SEC as well.
J: What does the team need to do to beat Alabama?
M: Transition defense and rebounding… transition D and checkouts are going to be real important against them.
J: Are there any Alabama players that you’re focusing on?
M: No; their leading scorer Tierney Jenkins hurt us last year. She doesn’t start right now. She used to start. I think she’s coming off the bench, and she’s their leading scorer. But, they have other kids who can score. We just need to take them out of what they do, not personnel per se.
J: The Commodores played well against Alabama last year. Are there any similarities between this season’s and last season’s opponent?
M: No; actually they have a brand new coach, so they’re very different. So, I didn’t even look at last year’s tape because it wouldn’t do us any good. They have a new coach and a new philosophy on both ends of the floor. That makes it a little more difficult. They’re a little more unknown to us.
Three of your four losses have come on the road. Are you concerned with playing on the road?
M: No; I think they were matchup problems. I don’t think it would have mattered if they were here or away. I haven’t even thought about that as being our problem. We’ve always traditionally been a better team sometimes on the road than we have at home. I think our crowd’s been good. We almost upset Notre Dame that was No. 6 in the country at the time. We played very well for 25 minutes, but didn’t play for 40.
We’re worrying too much about what the other team is doing instead of just taking care of us. I think that we have a better mindset in the SEC about taking care of us. That’s the biggest thing I learned from the preseason. We need to stop worrying about what the other team is doing, that takes your power away.
J: Final thoughts:
M: We’re just looking forward to getting into SEC play and get it off to a good start.