Saturday, April 5, 2008

Shan Foster wins Senior Class Award

Lowes just announced on CBS that Shan Foster has won the Senior Class Award. Foster beat out Roy Hibbert, Chris Lofton, DeMarcus Nelson and others for the award that recognizes his stellar record on and off the court.

From the Lowe's website:

Shan Foster
(G/F) Vanderbilt University

Statistics: Height: 6'6 PPG: 20.3 RPG: 4.9 APG: 1.6

Foster is on schedule to graduate in May 2008. All the senior men's basketball players at Vanderbilt have graduated since 1979. Majoring in Human and organizational development with 2 majors: health and human services and leadership. Foster also is pursuing a Minor in religous Studies.

Character:Charitable, giving, hard working, Foster represents everything good about college athletics. As an example, Kelly Finan, a Vanderbilt coed and member of the Memorial Maniacs, had a stroke two years ago, and then had kidney failure and nearly died. Foster learned about her situation, and the two have become friends. Finan, who is now confined to a wheelchair, is involved with Vanderbilt's Susan Gray School, an on-campus research-oriented school devoted to educational research involving young children with developmental disabilities and children whose future development was at risk because of conditions such as poverty. In early December 2007, Foster appeared at the Gray School's annual fundraiser as the honorary student chair for the event. He has also written a song in honor of Kelly.

Community:Foster is involved with the Gray School, and sings at many area churches on Sundays. He is a very good musician and has recorded a gospel song that he wrote for an album that features many local Nashville musicians. Mentors five teenagers, ranging in age from 13 to 19, in the Nashville area, makes appearances to elementary, middle, high schools, as well as children's hospital and many churches to sing and speak to youth. He also speaks to youth football and basketball teams.

Competition:Foster is currently 13th all-time in scoring at Vanderbilt, and could become number one with a stellar season. He is also currently second in the SEC in scoring and first in three pointers made. He has finished in the top 10 in the SEC in scoring and three-pointers made each of the last two seasons and in the top 15 for three-point field goal percentage all three years of his career. He is listed among the SEC’s all-time leaders for consecutive games with a made three-pointer. He ranks as the conference’s third-leading returning scorer entering his senior season after averaging 15.6 points per game as a junior. He was chosen by the media and coaches as a preseason first team all-SEC player. Shan has also been named a mid-season candidate for both the Wooden and Naismith Awards.

Final Four Preview

Sorry folks for the delay.  David Rutz, Will Gibbons and I run through what it will take for each Final Four to emerge as the NCAA Champions.

Kansas (Gibbons)

The best thing about the Kansas Jayhawks is the depth of talent they have. Anyone in their top seven players is capable of putting up a 20-point performance. That makes preparing for the Jayhawks very difficult. With two seniors and three seniors, Kansas also brings experience to the final four. As Fox Sports writer Jeffrey Martin points out, if you combine the seniors departing (Russell Robinson, Sasha Kahn, Darnell Jackson) with the underclassmen expected to test the NBA waters (Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers), this group knows this is their one big chance to shine. When the teams are as evenly matched as they are this year, the mental game counts for a lot, so this is a big motive. We had to go with the bread and butter “Rock-Chalk, Jayhawk” for the video.


North Carolina (Rutz)

North Carolina steamrolled its way to the Final Four, and the Heels area bout to roll to another national title. North Carolina simply has too much offensive firepower for any of the other teams left to handle. Love him or hate him, Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough is a beast underneath and a flat-out competitor who’s hungry to give his team a championship. On the outside, Wayne Ellington always seems to hit the big shot,and Ty Lawson is a steady force at point. Coach Roy Williams has been here before, and UNC hasn’t lost in two months. Add it all up and you can bet that the Tar Heels will be champions come Monday.


UCLA (Robie)

In the last few years, the NCAA champions have been loaded with NBA lottery picks.  Recall UNC in 2005 with Sean May, Ray Felton, Rashad McCants, and Marvin Williams.   The Florida Gators were led with Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Corey Brewer.  UCLA is the only team that has that sort of depth of star power.  Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and Darren Collison all project to be lottery picks.  Add Mbah-Moute to the mix, and this team is as well-rounded as any, not to mentioned experienced.  Third times a charm, expect the law of averages to help the Bruins reignite a Wooden-like dynasty.  


Memphis (Robie)


The us against the world mentality might have something to it.  Memphis has been steamrolling over their opponents, as the 50-20 halftime score against Michigan State seemed to prove.  Derrick Rose has emerged as the best player in the country—playing with the poise of tournament veteran.  Chris Douglas-Roberts is silky smooth and Joey Dorsey makes noise in the paint, especially on the defensive end.  They’ve only had one hiccup all season long (Tennessee) and they continue to improve and show a mean streak.   The poor free throw talk hasn’t been an issue in the tournament, especially because the team’s prime ball handlers all shoot well.           





Commodore Banter (4/5)

The Women's tennis team swept the No. 17 Vols on Friday afternoon, but men's tennis wasn't so lucky.    

CBS thoroughly analyzes Chris Williams as an NFL prospect.

Shan Foster hit four three pointers in the college all star game.    

Feeling a little school pride?  Now you can purchase a Vandy ringtone.  

Pat Forde discusses Kevin Love and Derrick Rose in this piece, and notes how odd it is that soon to be millionaires are still considered "student athletes."

ESPN's "experts" run through their predictions and discuss both who they'd start a team with and which player matchup is most intriguing in tonight's contests.  

In case you missed our...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Video of the Day: Mascot Challenge

As Awful Announcing put it, "you'll probably be dumber if you watch this clip," but like them, I couldn't resist. ESPN (which is losing credibility by the minute) decided it would be a good idea to have an animal trainer from the Barnum and Baily Circus predict which Final Four mascot would win a fight in the wild on its show "First Take."

The only thing more ridiculous than the segment itself was the animal trainer's prediction. She had the nerve to say that a Ram (UNC) would beat a Tiger (Memphis) in real life. Seriously?!

Again, I apologize for wasting three minutes of your day, but at least you should feel better about your life...

Commmodore Banter (4/3)

Junior Nick Christiani pitched three innings of scoreless relief, freshman Chase Reid struck out a batter with two on and two out in the seventh and redshirt freshman Russell Brewer overcame a leadoff double in the ninth to record the save in the Commodores' 6-5 victory over MTSU Wednesday.

“The story for us was the guys who pitched,” said Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin. “Christiani put a Band-aid on it and shut them down. Then Reid came in and did yeoman's work, and then (Russell) Brewer threw strikes (in the ninth).”

Vanderbilt (19-7, 5-3 SEC) will travel to Ole Miss for a three-game series this weekend.

Major League Baseball scouts had a busy day yesterday, checking out Alvarez take on MTSU before racing to watch Smyrna's Sonny Gray, a senior All-American who is committed to Vandy. Both will high first-round draft picks in June.

With defensive tackles Gabe Hall and Theo Horrocks gone, it's Greg Billinger's time to shine, writes Brett Hait.

Entering his third season, Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler called out wide receiver Brandon Marshall among others in a lengthy and candid interview session with reporters. Dennis Dillon of the Sporting News is glad that he did, while a Fox Sports blogger is not.

Scotty Hopson, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound shooting guard ranked ninth overall by, just became the first McDonald's All-American to commit to Tennessee since 1997.

Stop comparing UNC's Tyler Hansbrough and UCLA's Kevin Love just because they are white, writes Gary Parrish.

Don't forget to watch Shan Foster and Chris Lofton square off in tonight's 3-point competition as part of San Antonio's Final Four festivities. It will air from 8-10 p.m. CT on ESPN. I've got my money on The Truth.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Q&A with Keegan Bell

After his announcement that he would be transferring from Vanderbilt at the end of the semester, freshman point guard Keegan Bell sat down to talk to the SportsVU about why he made the decision to leave, his future plans and what he'll miss most about being a Commodore.

SV: How did your teammates react when they heard the news that you were going to transfer? You and A.J. (Ogilvy) are pretty close, I know.
Keegan Bell:
You know, just like I knew they would. We’re kind of a family, we’re real close and they were very supportive. They wished me luck and they knew that I knew what was best for me and that there were no hard feelings towards them. They support me, and we’re all going to stay in contact. We’re so close, we’re all kind of like best friends. They’re sad. They’re definitely disappointed and all that, especially A.J. A.J. and I have been so close, we’re kind of like brothers. He was kind of devastated, but he said whatever’s best for me that he’d fully support.

SV: You talked before about you and coach Stallings not seeing eye-to-eye. I remember you were very enthusiastic about coming here, what did you think was going to be your role?
KB: I thought it was going to be more of my style, where I’m a little more of a flashy player.

SV: Like Steve Nash, right?
KB: Right, I kind of like to do that. (Stallings) was just kind of negative about that sort of stuff, and with a number of things it just felt I couldn’t play as much my game as I thought I was going to be.

SV: Had transferring been on your mind for a while?
KB: During the season, I wasn’t going to think about it at all. After every season, I was always going to evaluate how the season went and how things went. During the year I got frustrated a little bit, but nothing like this to even think about transferring. Afterwards, I talked to my family and let the frustrations out and came to this conclusion.

SV: You said you didn’t know where you were going to go, but do you have any specific coach or program in mind?
KB: I just want a coach that knows how I play and wants to play the up-and-down style. I like positive coaches that are very enthusiastic. I want to be able to play my game. I’m a point guard. Yeah, I can score, but I really like to dish the ball. Being somewhere I could push it up and play more and more my style of basketball would be a perfect fit.

SV: That game against DePaul, is that more your style, where you had 12 points and eight assists?
KB: That is. It was more freelancing stuff, that between-the-legs pass and all that kind of stuff, I like to do that. And when an opportunity comes to be able to score more, I enjoy scoring, that’s one of the strengths of my game, I believe. So, yeah, that was more of a hint of my style and how I like to play.

SV: Do you think playing in the SEC has improved your game?
KB: Definitely. Coach has gotten me so much better, I really appreciate everything he’s done. The players have gotten me better. The league is so tough, and it’s definitely given me great experience so when I go down the road, this year’s definitely been beneficial.

SV: Obviously, you’ve got to take a year off because of NCAA regulations. What part of your game do you want to work on the most?
KB: I’m just going to work on everything as much as possible. I really want to try and add a new dimension to my game. I was very 3-point oriented this year, and I want to be able to do it all. I feel that’s what I should do, jump shots and all that kind of stuff. So I’m going to go back and work on that kind of stuff, and improve my defense, fitness, strength and just kind of work on everything.

SV: What do you think you’ll miss most about playing at Vanderbilt?
KB: The fans, the students, the guys. Definitely going to be weird not being around them and my girlfriend, Jence Rhoads, she plays here, so it’s going to be weird not being around her and seeing her progress and having her at the games. Other than that, it’s just a great program. It’s a great place, a great university, and I’m definitely going to miss it.

Commodore Banter (4/2)

Four years ago, George Smith was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, an uncommon neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. The wide receiver eventually recovered, only to injure his right arm in a shooting in Morgan House dorm in 2005.

But, Smith persevered, and teammates recently elected him as one of three captains for the upcoming season along with center Bradley Vierling and safety Reshard Langford.

"George has fought through a lot of adversity, and that's what this team is all about," Vierling said.

Smith might be as fitting a face as the Commodores have ever had, writes Maurice Patton.

The wide receiver's career has come full circle, writes Brett Hait.

The Commodores may have lost 12-8 Southeast Missouri, but Tuesday was a good day as it marked the return of All-American third baseman Pedro Alvarez. The Redhawks, meanwhile, are on cloud nine after upsetting Vandy.

ESPN's Mark Schlereth lists Alvarez as the nation's No. 2 power hitter.

Rays pitcher David Price threw the first time since straining his elbow on March 20 and said "it felt good."

Vandy golfer Jon Curran has been on fire this March, winning a tourney and earning a runner-up finish in two others.

Indiana didn't hire Kevin Stallings, but it hit a home run with Marquette's Tom Crean.

SI's Luke Winn breaks down the games of one player on each Final Four team -- Kansas' Brandon Rush, Memphis' Derrick Rose, UCLA's Kevin Love and UNC's Ty Lawson.

Vegas Watch has the Final Four odds:

UNC 33.8%
Kansas 22.4%
Memphis 22.6%
UCLA 22.1%

In case you missed our...

Welcome back, Pedro!

The bad news? Vanderbilt (18-7, 5-3 SEC) lost to Southeast Missouri 12-8 Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.

The good news? Junior Pedro Alvarez returned to the lineup, going 1-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. The All-American third baseman had missed 23 games after breaking a bone in his hand in the season opener against Arizona State.

The Commodores play at Middle Tennessee Wednesday at 6 p.m. and travel to Ole Miss this weekend for a three-game series.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Video of the day: Too good to be true

and it is...

I still love the way they pull it off though. Perfect execution, straight faces the whole time. Happy April Fool's Day everyone!

Baseball Notebook

Even with All-American third baseman Pedro Alvarez sidelined, the No. 8 Commodores (18-6, 5-3 SEC) continued to pile up wins.

They went 4-0 last week, beating Belmont and Middle Tennessee midweek before taking two from Arkansas over a rain-filled weekend at Hawkins Field. They won the first game on a walk-off double by Brian Harris in the bottom of the 12th and took the second one, a seven-inning contest due to SEC rules, 6-2. It was Vandy's first series victory over the Razorbacks in 11 opportunities going back to 1994.

The offense struggled some for the week, hitting just .273 with four homers, nine doubles and 31 runs scored, but the pitching staff was impressive, sporting a 3.60 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 18 walks in 40 innings.

Alex Feinberg continues to rake, as he went 8-for-16 with a double and five RBI on the week.

Freshman Aaron Westlake started twice and went 4-for-10 with a double and four RBI. Fellow freshman Curt Casali had only one hit in his four at-bats on the week, but it was a memorable one, a two-run walk off homer against MTSU in the bottom of the 12th.

On the mound, Russell Brewer has been clutch, getting out of two first and third and no outs situations on the week. He pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed six hits while striking out 11 and walking two.

Freshman Taylor Hill picked up two wins after pitching three scoreless innings with five strikeouts and a walk and Chase Reid (have you seen his curve ball?) threw 2.2 scoreless innings with six strikeouts and three walks.

The Commodores will be on the road the next two weekends against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and play nine of the next 11 away from Hawkins Field.

Q&A with Nick Cromydas

Junior tennis player Nick Cromydas took a moment to reflect on his stellar victory Sunday and with whom he'd like to play mixed doubles on the women's team.

The Sports VU: Where does your match on Sunday rank in terms of your all time
best matches?

Nick Cromydas: Sundays match is a memory I will probably take with me the rest of my life. The atmosphere was that of a college basketball game. I would rank it as No. 1 so far in my career, because of what was on the line. It was Ryan Preston and Evan Dufaux’s last home match ever (Senior Day) and a must-win SEC match. I could not stop thinking about how I wanted their last home memory to be a win and it really fueled me to get through a tough match. Hopefully we can use it to get the momentum going against Tennessee and Georgia next weekend.

SV: Coach Duvenhage had this to say about you after your match: "I've coached a lot of great players, I've coached a lot of NCAA champions and there may be some players out there that are more talented than (Cromydas), there may have been players that I've coached that have prettier games, but there aren't any that are tougher." What does it mean to you that he said this?

NC: It means a great deal to me. I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for Coach Duvenhage, and to me, it is the ultimate compliment. When I graduate, I would like to be remembered for always putting it on the line, and hope I can continue to do so and help the team out in any way I can.

SV: How would you describe your game to someone who had never seen you play?

NC: Coach jokes around that I sometimes it looks like I don’t have a plan and that I just kind of wing it. He dubbed my style of play as “Street Balling”, so Ill go with that.

SV: Ryan will be graduating soon and has had a phenomenal career at Vanderbilt, what has he meant to the team?

NC: Ryan will be tremendously missed in the years to come. His work ethic, determination and concern for the well being of the team is something that will be impossible to replace. Many people will look at his statistics, SEC and NCAA honors and wins and say he had an unbelievable career, and he absolutely did. But it was the little things that made him great. What separated him was his ability to push us each day in practice, working harder and wanting it more. He inspires and makes all of us better. My fondest memories competing have been playing next to him, and I consider it an honor and privilege to have spent three years as his teammate, and cannot think of a better ambassador to Vanderbilt University.

SV: Has the team met your expectations thus far, and where do you see the team going come tourney time?

NC: This year we had the ambition of being a top ten team and host regionals for the NCAA tournament. We have not achieved that yet, so our expectations have not been met. We still have a handful of matches left against top teams, as well as the SEC tournament and I see no reason why we can’t continue to strive to meet this goal. Come tourney time, I believe will be at our best. We have proven we can play with the nations top teams, it is just a matter of putting the pieces together. It is in our hands how well we do at the tournament, and if we come out and play like we can, we're going to surprise a lot of people.

SV: What's on your iPod these days?

NC: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Eminem, Enrique Inglesias-Ping Pong Song

SV: Which team do you enjoy playing most, and why?

NC: Any SEC school. You know its going to be a battle every time, and the atmosphere is always intense.

SV: What's your favorite surface?

NC: Grass

SV: Does the Men's team ever play mix doubles with the Women's tennis team? (if so, who do you like to play with?)

NC: We have played a couple of times. I’d like to think Amanda Taylor and I would make a good team. We grew up playing in the Midwest Section together and I think we would compliment each other well.

SV: So you get to eat at McGugin, what other teams would you let sit at your table?

NC: Anybody who would be willing and able to put up with our teams nightly dinner rituals and antics.

Commodore Banter (4/1)

We wish it was an April Fool's Day joke that Keegan Bell was instead returning for his sophomore season. Brett Hait notes that Bell's relationship with Stallings had been getting worse, and we discuss what this means.

Within this piece, it becomes clear that Bell couldn't operate with the sort of freedom under Stallings that he hopes to earn elsewhere.

Maurice Patton offers his take of the situation and notes that Bell could go anywhere.

Foster joins Stephen Curry as a second team AP All-American.

Vanderbilt Golfer Jon Curran received SEC Male Golfer of the Week honors after a terrific tournament.

South Carolina's search for a coach to replace Dave Odom ended on Monday with the hiring of Western Kentucky coach Darrin Horn.

In case you missed our...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Keegan Bell to transfer from Vandy

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings announced Monday that rising
sophomore guard Keegan Bell will transfer at the conclusion
of the spring semester.

"Keegan Bell has decided to transfer at the conclusion of the
spring semester," Stallings said. "We support that decision 100
percent and wish him well."

Bell played in every game this season and averaged 2.7 points,
1.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest in a back-up point guard

With the departure of Bell and senior Alex Gordon, Jermaine Beal
is the lone returning point guard along with football player Jamie
Graham. The backcourt is extremely thin, with George Drake and
redshirt freshman Charles Hinkle as the lone returning shooting

Here are a few stories that shed light on the reasons behind Bell's

Bell leaving Vandy basketball squad (Nashville City Paper)
Bell leaves Vandy, looks for freedom (Huntsville Times)
Bell plans transfer from Vandy (Tennessean)

What are your thoughts on the announcement and its impact on
next year's squad?

Commodore Banter (3/31)

Louis Hart leaped over Tim Byrne and others in The Sports VU Facebook Tourney Bracket.

In the annual Black & Gold scrimmage, the defense impressed and a quarterback not named Nickson or Mackenzi played well.

Nick Cromydas was the hero of the day for the Men's tennis team. Coach Duvenhage had this to say: "I've coached a lot of great players, I've coached a lot of NCAA champions and there may be some players out there that are more talented than (Cromydas), there may have been players that I've coached that have prettier games, but there aren't any that are tougher."

As reported in an earlier entry, Shan Foster will be participating in the 3-Point Championship. While Shan Foster's unorthodox shot is great for getting over people, I'm not sure how conducive it is to getting off quickly. Within the same piece, the participants in the dunk contest are listed, which includes the likes of Joey Dorsey, James Gist, and Deron Washington.

It was a long day of baseball for the Commodores, but worthwhile all the same as they notched two victories.

Brett Hait writes that hell would freeze over before Indiana would hire Stallings.