In her Wednesday afternoon media session, Coach Balcomb talked about the team's Thursday night game with Missouri in Memorial Gym. In addition, she talked about the status of Christina Foggie, who suffered a knee injury in Sunday's loss to Kentucky, Kady Schrann, who missed the game because of a bad ankle sprain, and the team's adjustment to the injuries.
Prior to Coach Balcomb's press conference, media members in attendance were told that junior guard Christina Foggie, who was injured late in Sunday's game against Kentucky, would be sidelined for 7-10 days and then would be re-evaluated to determine if or when she'll be able to return to action. Sophomore guard Kady Schrann continues to be categorized as "day to day" due to problems with her ankle.
During her comments to the media, Coach Balcomb talked about her injured players, the team's adjustments, the upcoming game against Missouri on Thursday night. Here's a lightly edited transcript of Coach Balcomb's comments.
Question: [The injury to Foggie] could have been worse right? She'll be out 7-10 days. Is that better news than you guys were expecting?
Coach Balcomb: I don't know. To be honest with you, she's out. I don't know for how long, I don't know much at all. The fact that she's out and we have a game on Thursday, and who knows if she'll come back or not, it doesn't help me either way. So I can't say I'm happy or I'm sad.
Question: Have your roles changed?
Coach Balcomb: Yeah. That's the big thing. It's a great opportunity for more than one player to step up because we're going to need it from more than one player, especially people that have felt ready to play but haven't had the opportunity. It's going to give minutes to a lot of other people. People are going to have to play different spots. We'll find out what we're made of, what kind of team we are.
Question: Any idea of what the starting lineup might look like at this point, who will start in her place?
Coach Balcomb: In practice and proably after last game, I think we'll probably just go with experience and go with Gabby [Smith] just because she settled us down a lot against Kentucky. I felt like she played solid, and she does give us a 3-point shot like Foggie does, so that's who we've been putting in when we've taking Foggie out and we'll probably just stay with that unless somebody shows me in practice that they're way more ready.
Question: You think that opponents will focus on the inside a lot with Tiffany?
Coach Balcomb: I think they already were. If you look at our stats, our guards are all shooting in the 30s that start and our posts are shooting in the 50s and 60s, so we haven't been consistent, of the teams that I've coached, from the perimeter or from 3-point. I think already they were focusing on the inside, I think they'll just do it more, and this is a team that does that. They pack it in and run two or three at the post player inside.
Question: How challenging is Missouri, a team that just knocked off Tennessee?
Coach Balcomb: They're challenging, especially because we've not seen them before. The positive is they've never seen us before, either. We've never played them since I've been here. I know they have some similar qualities to us. I think they're tough. I think they run a lot of good things that are hard to guard in half-court. They execute well on both ends of the floor. I think they move really, really well without the basketball. Right now they shoot the 3 better than we do, but I think we're better inside than them, so there will be a little difference there, but a lot of the same things they do. They run in transition very well, probably better than we do right now. One of the things we've been working on is getting better in transition offense.
Question: Are you frustrated with all the injuries? Do you feel pretty snake-bitten this year?
Coach Balcomb: Y'know, I don't know if "frustrated" is the right word to say right now. A lot of hard work has gone into have the season that we felt-- we had a lot of experience coming back, but again, we're over-achievers and I think we were 7-seed last year and had everybody back and I don't know why everybody thinks you're not going to be 7-seed again with the same kids back, so I think when you're picked high, you have high expectations, and I think we were struggling with that. And then when Steph [Holzer] went down, we really struggled more. I think we came together, we've been playing well and we keep adding to that.
But I do think this team still has what it takes to win. I think that we have answers to the missing pieces, and it's time for them to have that resilience that a good team would have in February. We just talked about how Hannah's senior year, it was probably the only way I felt when you have such a pivotal person in your person go down this late. When Hannah Tuomi went down, we moved Jen Risper, a guard, into the post, and we won the SEC championship and went to the Sweet 16. So it is possible, and we have done it here, and we will keep repeating that and telling them that, and they do have something to look back and see that it is possible, and I have something to look back and see. I think if they want to come together as a team and do that, they certainly can.
Question: How confident are you in the NCAA tournament now? Do you think you've locked it up and are in good shape for the most part, or do you still have work to do?
Coach Balcomb: I think it's still really important to just focus on one game at a time, and right now, with the injuries, it's not a good time to look big picture, period, because there's so much uncertainty right now with my own team. I don't know how they're going to do Thursday, and I've got to figure out and have answers for Thursday. I certainly don't know; it changes us drastically to lose Foggie and don't know if we'll get her back. There's so much unanswered questions that there is no way I could even tell you. I know we have a very tough schedule, and it's better if I don't look at it, so we just need to take care of business on Thursday.
Question: Do you think that tough schedule will help you in the long run?
Coach Balcomb: Well, I think, yeah, because of our RPI, and I think we have had a strong RPI and don't have any bad losses. We do eventually need some good wins, that kind of thing is what they look at when they look at your portfolio when you're trying to get into the NCAAs.
Question: You ever stop and think about thirteen straight years and all the years you've been here, how amazing that stretch has been, only one of eight programs in the country to do it?
Coach Balcomb: Yeah. Right now I'm starting to think it was amazing that I didn't have this kind of injuries that are decimating to a team. We've got four kids out, and three of them starters, so that's a big change from what you thought you were going to be able to do, what you were predicted to do and your expectations.
Sometimes I say you can make adjustments better early, but with this one it's probably better that it's late because now we have a big freshman class and we've had to give them time. They've all played, they've all gotten minutes, and now they should be ready to step up. When we were in San Juan, we had some of them playing, and they weren't ready to step up them when Steph went down. It should be easier than it was, because it was tough for us back then.
Question: Kady [Schrann} -- is she going to play? I know she's had a bad ankle.
Coach Balcomb: She's day to day. Thursday, right now I don't assume, I'm assuming she'll be out until further notice. She has not been practicing.