Saturday, March 29, 2008

Video of the Day: Thank You Stephen Curry

Tough to post anything other than this the day after that performance from Stephen Curry. Averaging over 33 points a game against 2 of the best defenses in the country is just phenomenal, and he is doing his best to make sure this March won't be as forgettable as last March

Beating Maryland will be no small task

They don’t make as much news as their male counterparts. Most people probably couldn’t name their starting lineup. But tonight, the Lady Commodores are the center of attention as they take on first-seeded Maryland in the regional semifinals in Spokane. Not only is it against a heavily favored offensive juggernaut, but a win would put Vanderbilt in the Elite Eight for the first time in six years.

Vanderbilt is also battling history; since 2002, No. 1 seeds are 21-2 in the round of 16. The only two teams to pull off the upsets in the regional semifinals in that time were Rutgers over Duke in 2007 and LSU over Texas in 2004, and both reached the Final Four.

To pull the upset, I think Vanderbilt’s got to focus heavily on two things: negating Maryland’s height advantage on the boards and taking away their inside game. The Commodores are obviously an outstanding defensive team; look to their smothering of the Mountaineers last weekend for proof of that. However, rebounding is a weak point, and Maryland can expose that with their excellent frontcourt in All-American Crystal Langhorne and Lauren Harper, who stand at 6-2 and 6-4 respectively. The Commodores were the worst in the SEC in rebounding, and no one in Vanderbilt’s starting line-up is taller than 6-1. It doesn’t take a genius to note that senior Liz Sherwood will need to be a force on the boards coming off the bench.

Also, forcing Maryland into shooting from the outside is a must. A theme in Maryland’s rare losses was that they jacked up far more 3-pointers than usual and shot poorly when they did. The Terrapins hit just 14 out of 68 attempts in losses to UNC, Rutgers and Duke this year, about 23 attempts per game, when they usually take just 16, and only against Duke was Maryland furiously firing up shots in an attempt to comeback. Taking away their inside game won’t be easy, but Vanderbilt has to do it if it wants to advance.

Tip-off is at 8:00 CT, and ESPN will broadcast. Go Dores!

Commodore Banter (3/29)

Tom Byrne continues to pace The Sports VU Facebook Tournament Bracket.

The Women's basketball team feels prepared to play a team they say is similar to the Volunteers. And their 25-8 record might be a little deceiving with four losses to LSU and Tennessee, writes Katherine Smith.

Bobby Johnson and offensive coordinator Ted Cain are looking to incorporate D.J. Moore into the offense even more next fall.

Is it possible that the NIT might have been better for the Donovan-guided Gators than the NCAA tourney would have been?

Former NFL and Vandy Star Herb Rich passed away on Friday.

For better or worse, Coach Kevin Stallings will likely not be part of the Indiana coaching discussion, as they offered the position to Washington State Coach Tony Bennett.

Men's tennis lost to the No. 8 Ole Miss Rebels, but Ryan Preston scored a big upset victory.

In case you missed our...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Baseball game postponed

The Vanderbilt-Arkansas baseball game has been postponed due to rain in Nashville.

The teams will now play a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 3 p.m. That game will be televised regionally at Fox Sports Net. The second game will begin 30 minutes after the first one is completed. Both games are nine-inning contests.

Tickets for the Friday night game will be honored for the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday. Anyone who purchased tickets on Friday to the rained out contest can come to the first game of the doubleheader and sit in the outfield bleachers as seats are available.

New Schedule:

Saturday, March 29
Arkansas at Vanderbilt (Game 1) 3 p.m.
Arkansas at Vanderbilt (Game 2) 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 30
Arkansas at Vanderbilt 1 p.m.

From VU Media Relations

Live-blogging from Hawkins Field: Vandy-Arkansas

We're in a rain delay here at Hawkins Field where the No. 9 Commodores (16-6, 3-3 SEC) are set to take on Arkansas (15-9, 2-4 SEC) in game one of their three-game series. The tentative start time has been pushed back all the way to 8:30 CT, but there's talk of a double-header tomorrow. Check for all the latest.

In the meantime, I'll be watching Wisconsin-Davidson from the press box and doing a little blogging.

Here's a look at Vanderbilt's starting lineup:

1. CF David Macias .368, 4 HR, 12 RBI
2. RF Dominic de la Osa .241, 4 HR, 13 RBI
3. SS Ryan Flaherty .345, 4 HR, 22 RBI
4. DH Curt Casali .353, 2 HR, 9 RBI
5. 2B Alex Feinberg .387, 1 HR, 16 RBI
6. 1B Andrew Giobbi .346, 1 HR, 19 RBI
7. LF Parker Hanks .231, 1 HR, 2 RBI
8. C Shea Robin .290, 1 HR, 4 RBI
9. 3B Brian Harris .308, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Sophomore Mike Minor will start on the mound. He is 3-1 with a 1.60 ERA and has 43 strikeouts to just eight walks in 39.1 innings. Opponents are hitting just .201 against him.

Arkansas will send out lefthander Cliff Springston, which is Vanderbilt has eight right-handed hitters in the lineup. Springston is 4-0 with 2.73 ERA in 29.2 innings. He has struck out 22 and walked seven.

SEC Baseball Standings

Eastern Division
Florida 5-1 18-5
Georgia 4-2 13-9
Kentucky 4-2 21-2
South Carolina 4-2 16-6
Tennessee 4-2 15-7
Vanderbilt 3-3 16-6

Western Division
Ole Miss 3-3 15-9
Alabama 2-4 13-11
Arkansas 2-4 15-9
Auburn 2-4 14-4
LSU 2-4 15-8
Mississippi State 1-5 10-13

The rain continues to come down hard. It's Friday night, and contrary to popular belief, I do have a life (sometimes), which means I won't be sticking around here until 1 or 2 a.m.

Make sure to check out The Sports VU this weekend as we will be reporting live from Saturday's Black & Gold Scrimmage as well the rest of the baseball series here at Hawkins Field. Have a great night!

Video of the Day: Boom Goes the Dynamite

After John Mayer's booth performance from yesterday, I'd just like to pay tribute to the granddaddy of all awkward announcing clips with this gem from the archives.

I'd say my favorite lines, but I'd probably just end up including everything...

Basketball Recruiting Update...

With the departure of four seniors, including Shan Foster, who named a first-team All American, most Commodore fans seem to think the basketball team will be worse next year based on our recent poll here at The Sports VU.

However, as Lee Corso might say, "not so fast my friends". Vanderbilt has already signed Steve Tchiengang, a 6'8" power forward who should fill in for the departure of Ross Neltner, and Lance Goulbourne, a 6'7" small forward who some close to the program have already compared to Shan Foster. Both are widely considered top 100 players in the nation.

While both of these players are sure to be stars for the program, the more exciting news is that coach Kevin Stallings and company are not done with their recruiting for next season after a disappointing exit from the NCAA Tournament. Just this past week, both Brad Tinsley, a 6'3" point guard from Oregon and Jeff Taylor, a 6'7" shooting guard/small forward from New Mexico, narrowed their lists of offers down, and the Commodores made both players' top three according to

Tinsley is still considering seven programs including USC, Butler and Arizona State, but he favors three: Vanderbilt, Oregon and Wake Forest. Tinsley has scheduled a visit to Vanderbilt for the weekend of April 12. Tinsley is ranked as the 18th best point guard in the 2008 class by and is a four-star prospect.

Taylor has narrowed his list down to three: Vanderbilt, Texas and Gonzaga. While Vanderbilt is still in the hunt, Taylor has family in Texas which may influence his decision. If Vanderbilt could get commitments from these two players not only would the Commodores bring in the best basketball recruiting class of the Kevin Stallings era but they would also be in good position to return to the NCAA Tournament next year despite having a young team.

Check back with The Sports VU as we will continue to update you on these two prospects.

What 2 Watch 4

A look at what's on tap on campus and around the country on this lazy Friday.

No. 9 Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas (6 p.m. CT, Hawkins Field)
Mikie Minor gets the nod in the series opener with the Razorbacks.

College Basketball
No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Davidson (6:10 p.m. CT, CBS)
Can America's favorite player, Steph Curry, keep it going against one of the nation's most underrated teams?

No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Stanford (6:27 CT, CBS)
Not a fan of Texas' D.J. Augustin? Read this story and you will be.

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 12 Villanova (8:40 CT, CBS)
Is this the year for Bill Self's Jayhawks? Quite possibly.

No. 1 Memphis vs. No. 5 Michigan State (8:57 CT, CBS)
I'm not sure if you heard, but Memphis can't shoot free throws.

Commodore Banter (3/28)

Tom Byrne maintains his position at the top of The Sports VU Facebook Tournament Bracket despite picking Tennessee over Louisville.

Brett Hait has a must-read about Brian Harris, the Vandy third baseman who has used baseball to help cope with the loss of his mother. Stories like this make you realize how insignificant winning is.

Tennessee lost to Louisville as it couldn't avoid getting in foul trouble, writes Bryan Mullen.

For Louisville, the game plan rested on stopping Chris Lofton, who finished just 2-11 from the 3- point line, writes Chris Low.

One Vols fan reflects on the season and feels decidedly optimistic about the Vols chances in the suddenly hoops-rich state.

Maurice Patton previews the tailback position, which is loaded with depth if not experience.

There's word in this piece that Marcus Buggs put on a show for NFL scouts at his workout.

The women's basketball team will travel 2,175 miles to take on Maryland Saturday night in the Sweet 16 in Spokane, Wash. The game is on ESPN (8 p.m. CT) and there will be a viewing party at the Student Rec Center with free food and prizes, sponsored by Vandy Fanatics.

In case you missed our...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Video of the Day: "And that happened"

Listen to this call during the Red Sox-Oakland game and try to guess who made it.

The answer? None other than musician John Mayer. I was going to make a joke here and that happened...

Thanks to Awful Announcing for the find.

Q&A with Ryan Preston and Vijay Paul

Vanderbilt's top two tennis players--Ryan Preston and Vijay Paul--played a little Q&A with The Sports VU and reflected on the season so far, their favorite courses, and debunked the myth that it's not a storage facility adjacent to the Student Recreational Center.

Sports VU:
What's something that the average Vanderbilt student doesn't know about the tennis team?
Vijay Paul: Ah this is tough, I don't think many people realize we have indoor tennis courts--they think it's a storage building.
Ryan Preston: That big warehouse building across from the parking garage houses indoor tennis courts. I run into a lot of people who think it's a storage facility.

SV: Funniest member of the team?
Scott Lieberman and Andy Pulido battle for our hearts.
Scott Lieberman

SV: How hard can you guys serve?
Me, only about 100 mph, the bigger the guy the harder.

SV: Biggest win in your career?
First round of main draw at this Pro tournament in India in May 06.
Biggest win was over Tennessee a couple years ago. We went to Knoxville with only five guys(you need 6) and still beat them. Everybody played great and nothing makes me happier than to beat UT.

SV: Have you guys matched your expectations thus far in the season?
No, there have been flashes of what we are capable of, but we haven't all been on the same page at one time yet--it will come.
We started out well and then hit a couple bumps in the last few SEC matches. But we had a good win against Alabama last weekend, so we're hoping to feed off that as we move into the toughest part of our season.

SV: Favorite Class at Vanderbilt?
Hist 213 - Medieval Europe
RP: I like science and really enjoyed Astronomy taught by professor Weintraub.

SV: What are you listening to on your iPods right now?
Mostly Rap: Wu-Tang Clan, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Edan, John Coltrane.
RP: Always listening to all genres.

SV: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
To be honest, I don't plan too much ahead. Hopefully happily playing tennis somewhere in Europe.
A better question is where do I see myself in a couple months? I'm still working on it.

SV: Favorite surface?
Red Clay.
Fast indoor courts because it makes it a lot easier to serve well.

SV: If you could hit with one pro in the world, who would it be against?
Gael Monfils (French guy).
RP: I'd like to see what it's like to hit against Nadal.

SV: Favorite school to play against?
RP: SEC wins are the best, but being from up north, I also love playing Big Ten teams and reminding them why the SEC is the best and deepest conference in the land.

Commodore Banter (3/27)

Vandy Fanatics has organized some trips in the past, but never anything quite like this story coming out of Davidson.

March madness returns tonight, with Tom Byrne leading the way in The Sports VU Facebook Bracket.

Need a refresher course? ESPN's Andy Glockner offers his take on each Sweet 16 team.

How much do you think Siena earned for the MAAC with its win over Vanderbilt?

The 'Dores beat the MTSU Blue Raiders in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night.

Shan Foster will take on the nation's top marksmen in the annual three point contest. Note to readers: considering how many 3s Foster hit (133) and his percentage made (47.3%), I don't think anyone's numbers come close.

One sports blog ranks its top 5 tournament players, guess who's number one. Stephen Curry, maybe?

With Ron Steele returning next year, Alabama could be a sleeper team, but only if Hendrix stayed. Hendrix announced on Wednesday that he will enter the NBA draft (... to be drafted in the second round).

Men's tennis has a big weekend, hosting No. 38 Mississippi State and No. 8 Ole Miss.

Disappointing news that David Price has been shutdown due to elbow tightness.

The Women's Basketball team has nothing to lose and everything to gain, writes Maurice Patton.

The Volunteers aren't looking to blow a 20 point lead in this year's sweet 16.

In case you missed our...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hoosier Daddy, Vol fans?

Indiana needs a new head coach, and the Hoosiers have their eye on Bruce Pearl, David Climer of the Tennessean writes.

I know— it’s only a rumor. But for Vandy fans and Vol haters alike, this is exciting stuff. Before Pearl took the U-Tay job in March of 2005, the program was in shambles. Jerry Green resigned in 2001 before Buzz Peterson put the freefall into high gear.

The Vols posted records of 14-16, 17-12, 15-14, 14-17 in the four seasons under Peterson. That’s 1 NIT appearance and a winning percentage barely over 50%. Ouch.

Since Pearl, the Vols have posted records of 22-8, 24-11, and (currently) 31-4. He’s seen three straight trips to the Big Dance, a 77% winning percentage, and two Sweet Sixteen appearances (provided Louisville takes care of business tomorrow. Knock on wood.)

If there's any drawback of seeing Vandy’s basketball program grow, it's watching Tennessee do it with us. If Pearl left the SEC, I certainly wouldn't miss him.

Let’s hope Bruce turn in his orange blazer for something red.

On a different note, I'm going to respectfully disagree with the previous "World's Greatest Dunker" video. Kadour Ziani from France wins, hands down. The guy is 5'10 and has a 56-inch vert. And if ya don't know, now ya know. . .

Q&A with Shea Robin

After Vanderbilt's 7-3 win over Belmont last night, catcher Shea Robin caught up with the Sports VU to talk about the game and the performance of his fellow battery mate, Brett Jacobson.

Q: How important was tonight’s win?
A: It’s huge. I think just coming back to our home park may have gotten everybody a little more comfortable; it got the pitchers more comfortable. The biggest thing was just jumping out on top early. They got those runs, but Brett Jacobson kept us in the game when we weren’t hitting in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. Steve (Liddle) had the big hit for us too. It was good to get back here, to be on top again, and we’ll see if we can get another winning streak going.

Q: How was Jacobson’s stuff working tonight?
A: It was the best I’ve seen him this year, to be honest with you. He worked both sides of the plate and threw three pitches for strikes, which I think was the biggest thing. Whenever you get around to that third, fourth time through the order, the hitters can’t just sit on one pitch. He had them guessing; I was really proud of him, and he threw very well.

Q: How important is it for him to get back on track?
A: Huge. Having an older guy like that; he’s one of only four guys that had SEC experience before this year, so giving him that confidence that he got tonight is going to be huge for us. Especially down the road, whenever we need another starter or even a guy to come in and finish the game, that’s huge, giving him that confidence. I’m very happy for him; he deserves it.

Q: Talk about how Drew Hayes pitched today.
A: Oh, I was very impressed with him too. Drew worked both sides of the plate, he was very consistent, hit his spots very well. His slider, he was throwing very hard. It’s very tough to see for the hitters. When you have a guy coming in closing the game out like that, not even letting any runners on base, that’s what you want in a guy that’s coming in late.

Q: Where do you see this team being at right now? What are you goals this week with five games at home?
A: Our goal is to win every game, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to take every game one at a time. Tonight, we weren’t looking to MTSU tomorrow; we’re taking it one game at a time. I think that’s where you start being successful as a team, when you start playing yourselves instead of playing the team on the other side of the field. Whenever we do that, we’re pretty dangerous.

Video of the Day: Best dunker in the world?

First, think about all the people you know that are 5'9". Then imagine them doing what "TDub" does in this video. I'm impressed. As part of the renowned Team Flight Brothers, TDub is up for a YouTube video of the year award in the sports category.

Check out the rest of the nominees for YouTube video of the year

UPDATE: After checking out the rest of the nominees myself, I'm no longer as impressed with TDub. He is good, but holy shit, this kid with the etch-a-sketch is ridiculous. Today's video of the day has just become a double feature, and I'm not sure who's the better athlete...

Commodore Banter (3/26)

Vanderbilt athletes continue to rake in conference player of the week honors. Lacrosse defender Sasha Cielak did just that this week.

The Sports VU's own Jarred Amato offered his take on the baseball team's 7-3 win over Belmont. You can also to his thoughts on the game in today's podcast with Andrew Hard (on the right).

High School senior Jeff Taylor, who really emerged as a player to be reckoned with in New Mexico hoops, will decide between Vanderbilt, Gonzaga, and Texas.

Champions of all sports have been invited to the White House, including Vanderbilt's bowlers.

Vanderbilt and MTSU decided to renew their rivalry, agreeing to play four games starting in 2015.

In case you missed our...

BASEBALL: Vandy 7 Belmont 3

There were two encouraging signs from Vanderbilt’s 7-3 victory over Belmont Tuesday night at Hawkins Field – Brett Jacobson and Dominic de la Osa.

Let’s start with Jacobson, the talented right-hander who has had scouts drooling ever since he was drafted out of high school by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The junior came into the season with high expectations only to struggle mightily early on. No one imagined that he would go from being the No. 2 starter to a midweek guy, but that’s exactly what happened.

Now Jacobson is attempting to build himself back up, and Tuesday’s performance was certainly a step in the right direction. He gave up three runs on seven hits, while striking out four and walking two in seven innings of work.

“I think the most impressive thing about him was he kind of got off to a slow start and he was able to come back,” said shortstop Ryan Flaherty. “It looked like he might not last long and then all of a sudden it’s the seventh inning and there he is out there.”

Coach Tim Corbin also said he was pleased with the fact that Jacobson didn’t allow a run after the third.

“When he faced hitters for the second and third time around, he kept it down a little bit,” Corbin said. “I think that’s the value of a pitcher. I think sometimes a pitcher can get through a lineup one time, but can’t get through it a second and third time, so I thought his ability to do that was key, and hopefully that helps him a little bit because he’s a talented kid. Things have not been going his way, but it was good to see that tonight.”

Both Corbin and Flaherty acknowledged the Commodores (15-6, 3-3 SEC) need big things from Jacobson to be successful.

“He’s huge,” Flaherty said. “If we’re going to go anywhere this year, he’s going to have to be a big part of it. He’s the leader of our pitching staff with Mikie (Minor) and those guys down there, and once he gets going, we’re gonna be tough.”

Added Corbin: “I think if we go deep into this thing this year, he’s going to have to be a key player for us. I don’t see us winning without a guy like him. He’s going to have to pitch. He’s going to get better down the road, better than he is right now.

“This was a start for him, and he knows that. He’s not unrealistic. The kid works hard. He’s the first guy out here every single day. He deserves good things to happen to him.”

According to Corbin, Jacobson’s problems aren’t uncommon.

“When a pitcher gets hit, it’s usually because they just leave balls up in the zone,” Corbin said. “They flatten out. The fastball doesn’t have much movement to it, the breaking ball is flat and you’re pitching above the belt. It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing – SEC, out-of-SEC. People will hurt you.”

De la Osa, meanwhile, had a solid day at the plate, going 2-for-4, including a line-drive homer to left-center, with three runs scored. Coming into the game, the senior outfielder was hitting just .230 with 10 RBI, so Corbin switched de la Osa to the 2-hole, and it looks like it worked.

“I like him in the 2-hole because it gives Flaherty a chance to maybe see some fastballs and gives Dominic a chance to run behind a lefthander hitter,” Corbin said. “We needed to do something. We were stale. The kids are trying, but (they were) just stale.”

Corbin said de la Osa’s struggles stemmed from putting too much on pressure on himself.

“ He’s a very internal kid and he doesn’t’ have a lot of emotion,” he said. “He keeps everything in and when they do that, it can almost be worst for them. It bottles up and I think that’s what was happening.

“But, you know what, you look at his numbers and they’re not a whole lot different than last year. Okay, he had one more home run than he does right now, but he had seven more at-bats and five less hits and he’s got more walks and more stolen bases so just stay with it. This game has a way of evening itself out. As long as we get it going at the end of the year, that’s all that matters.”

Flaherty said he is confident they will.

“I think the pieces will start coming together,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep working hard and get better every day.”

EXTRA BASES: Corbin said freshman Sean Bierman will get the nod Wednesday against MTSU…The rotation for this weekend’s series with Arkansas will remain the same. Minor will start Friday night, followed by Caleb Cotham and Taylor Hill…The timetable for Pedro Alvarez’s return is 2-3 weeks. “I’d love to have him back for Ole Miss, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Corbin said.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Technology Upgrades

Thanks a lot for checking out our website. We've decided to add an RSS feed so that you can keep up with our content as it is published on the Web. You can either scroll down to the bottom of the page to add the RSS feed, or you can bookmark this link.

We've also set up a feature that will email you updates from the site. Check below the "About US" section on the right side of this website.

Furthermore, we've added a daily podcast (which we promise won't always start up when you log onto The Sports VU; we're experiencing technical difficulties) and tomorrow we'll be working on our first TV show in the format of ESPN's The Sports Reporters.

Video of the Day: Why I Hate Tennessee

With the Commodores' disappointing exit from the tournament and a lack of meaningless Vandy basketball predictions to fill up my time, I am forced to find new ways to put off the things I should actually be doing. With things quieting down now, Jarred and I are going to try and help you do the same by posting an amusing video or picture every day. Usually it won't be related to Vanderbilt, sometimes it won't even be related to sports, but hey, we could all use a laugh. And maybe you'll even find some other good blogs out there because of it...

Some of you may have already seen today's entry, but I think it's worthwhile nonetheless. Plus it's about hating Tennessee, and who doesn't? They some snitches!

Thanks to Deadspin for the find

Commodore Banter (3/25)

If your volume is down, you would have missed our podcast when you logged onto The Sports VU. Scroll down, it's on the right. Check back later this week for our first TV show.

One 'Dores basketball team reaches the Sweet 16.

The SEC can recover from a down year in basketball, writes Ray Melick.

Check here to read about where Chris Williams fits in the first round.

There's word in Brett Hait's article that Williams scored a 32 on the Wonderlic test, which eclipsed all other offensive linemen.

Bennett and Goff met with Titans team officials on Monday, who are both on the cusp of the second round.

The outspoken Rick Pitino is sick of the talk that he didn't recruit Chris Lofton, but offered a peculiar remark: "Oh, I can assure you we recruited him hard," Pitino said. "Chris knows we recruited him hard. His parents know we recruited him hard. I don't know why (some people) say that. But I'm very happy for Chris. How could he have had a better career if he'd gone to Louisville?"

In case you missed our...

Vanderbilt women move on to Sweet 16

Christina Wirth scored 21 points and Jessica Mooney added 11 off the bench, and the Commodores advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 with a 64-46 victory over 5th-seeded West Virginia.

Vanderbilt had fallen in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006 and 2007 but this time it broke through with a strong second half, holding the Mountaineers to just 17 points.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Baseball Notebook

After losing its first Southeastern Conference series in a year, the Vanderbilt baseball team (14-6, 3-3 SEC) looks to get back on track this week as it hosts five games in six days.

The No. 9 Commodores dropped two of three at Alabama and lost back-to-back games for just the second time over the last two seasons.They hit just .202 with 26 strikeouts and only seven walks against the Tide, and batted .244 on the week with four homers, five doubles and 24 runs scored in four games.

One of the lone bright spots was senior outfielder David Macias, who hit three homers and is currently riding a 18-game hitting streak. Shortstop Ryan Flaherty went 6-for-15 (.400) with a double, homer and three RBI.

On the mound, sophomore Mike Minor (3-1) continued to dominate, giving up one unearned run on eight hits while striking out a career-high 12 batters in nine innings to lead Vanderbilt to a 2-1 victory over Alabama Friday night. Minor leads the SEC in innings pitched (39.1) and complete games (2) while also sporting a 1.60 ERA.

Chase Reid pitched 0.2 innings of scoreless relief and has not given up an earned run in 13.0 innings this season.

What 2 Watch 4

3/25 Belmont 6 p.m. Hawkins Field
3/26 MTSU 6 p.m. Hawkins Field
3/28 Arkansas 6 p.m. Hawkins Field
3/29 Arkansas 3 p.m. Hawkins Field
3/30 Arkansas 1 p.m. Hawkins Field

Commodore Banter (3/24)

Men's tennis earned a big win over No. 23 Alabama.

Goodbye to the Saints, as they lost to Villanova.

Shan Foster finds himself at the top of the second round in this mock draft.

Our friends over in Knoxville inch closer to a match-up against the Tar Heels with the win over Butler.

Kevin Stallings says that the 'Dores overachieved this year. I'm not sure it was so much that as it was =a function of the schedule being so bloody easy.

The City Paper recaps the weekend for Vanderbilt sports. Within this piece there's word that the defense shut down the offense in the weekend scrimmage.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Picked-up pieces from the NCAA Tourney

1,472 miles, $246 and six Tay Fisher 3-pointers later, I'm finally back in Nashville, where I'm still trying to figure out how Vanderbilt lost by 21 points to Siena. (On a completely random note, a car full of Tennessee fans pulled up alongside us yesterday on the ride home and held a sign up in the window that read "Sienna." No punchline needed. Just classic.)

A few closing thoughts:

-It's no secret that the Commodores lost because they couldn't defend. They have not been a particularly good defensive team all season, especially away from Memorial Gym, so perhaps we were naive to assume that it was going to be different against a Siena team that excelled at beating opponents off the dribble.

Stallings blamed himself for his team's defensive deficiencies.

"The disappointment was really all season long I didn't get this team to play defensively the way it had to play on a consistent enough basis for us to win the way we wanted to win," he said. "Now, 26-8 is not a terrible year, but we just never were consistent defensively. And, again, that's my responsibility. It's completely my responsibility. I was just never able to push the right button with this group because we worked harder defensively all season long than we did offensively."

I don't think it's fair to put all the blame on the coach. It wasn't Stallings who got beat off the dribble. It wasn't Stallings who got caught up in screens. It wasn't Stallings who failed to close out on shooters.

My take is this: Vanderbilt just didn't have the personnel or mindset to defend at high level for 40 minutes a night. Stallings couldn't have said or done anything to change that.

-Sophomore Jermaine Beal probably summed it up best.

"That's why they call it March Madness because anything can happen," he said. "Siena just came out, played harder than us, and they beat us pretty bad."

That's really all it comes down to: effort. It's not that the Commodores didn't care or that they didn't want to win -- of course they did. It's just that Siena wanted it more. They had the look in their eyes and swag in their step that Derrick Byars and Dan Cage had last year. They knew they were going to win.

"In other years we've been able to kind of get that switched around when the tournament has come," coach Kevin Stallings said, "and for whatever reason we weren't able to get that done this particular season."

-The fact that Tampa saw four upsets on Friday (Western Kentucky over Drake, San Diego over UConn, Siena over Vandy, Villanova over Clemson) shouldn't come as too much of a surprise given the state of college basketball.

I asked Stallings if he thought the gap between mid-majors and majors was closing and here's what he said:

"I think the nature of the NCAA Tournament is not about seeding; it's about match-ups. Do you get match-up that's good for you? And Siena, obviously, got a match-up that was good for them. Western Kentucky got a match-up that I thought was good for them. Obviously, San Diego made the most of their match-up.

"So again, so much of it depends on how you're playing when you hit the tournament and then who you draw...Yeah, the gap probably is closing because there a lot of good players out there.I think that shows through. There are some guys on that Siena team, obviously, that would be very successful SEC players. So maybe that gap is closing.

The point is not that Siena is better than Vanderbilt, but rather that higher-seeded teams like the Commodores don't have much margin for error.

-Like us here at The Sports VU, Stallings said he is "a big Jamie Graham fan."

"He has really added a lot to our team and added a lot to the personality of it," Stallings said. "You just don't know how much progress a guy can make when he plays football and you're only going to have him for part of the year. Jamie was a very welcome addition, and really, really a great guy to have on our team this, and we loved every minute of having him, and I thought he played very well when he was in there (Friday)."


-Even after the loss, Stallings said he thought Vanderbilt might have overachieved this season.

"I really think that we probably overachieved in some respects," he said. "I think if you look at the season as a whole, I think that this group got a lot out of itself."

Stallings makes an interesting point. At the beginning of the season, how many of you expected this team to win 26 games? Probably not many.

-To Shan Foster, Alex Gordon, Alan Metcalfe and Ross Neltner, I say thanks. This program, and this university, is not going to be the same without you. Remember that you've accomplished too much and done too many special things to allow your careers be defined by one game.

As Stallings said, "There really isn't anything you could ask for more than what these guys were able to give."

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts/comments below.

Commodore Banter (3/23)

Even with the Commodores eliminated, you've gotta love Davidson's Stephen Curry. He's what makes March Madness so special.

A few links to check out while you stay glued to the TV on this Easter Sunday...

Your favorite Siena Saints were overmatched from the start against Villanova, falling 84-72 this afternoon. That can't make Vandy feel good...

At least one Vanderbilt basketball team is moving onto the second round. The fourth-seeded women cruised to a 75-47 victory over Montana Saturday night and will face No. 5 West Virginia on Monday. VU Commodores' Alex Kwak has a good piece on "the young and the rested."

After a 2-1 victory Friday night, the Hawkins Nine fell to the Tide 9-7 Saturday afternoon.