Saturday, January 31, 2009

Whisenhunt talks about Vanderbilt days

Jim Wyatt has a great article in today's Tennessean about Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt, who began his coaching career as the special teams/tight ends coach at Vanderbilt in 1995, is preparing to coach the Cardinals in their first ever Super Bowl appearance Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Whisenhunt reflects on his time with the Commodores in the story... click here to read. He also talks about how Bill Marinangel's fake punt against Alabama originated (video below).

More Chunk

You asked for it and you got it.

Check out this video of Chunk (Jeff Cohen) on an episode of Kids Incorporated in 1984... before The Goonies and his scene-stealing truffle shuffle. You can tell he had star written all over him.

So, what has he been up to since his glory days?

Here's what says:

Graduated from UC Berkeley. Is an Entertainment Lawyer in Los Angeles, California. He was the President of the Associated Students of UC Berkeley and used to do the Truffle Shuffle on the sidelines during football games.

Simply amazing. Also, check out a few other celebs in the KI video.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sammy gets the boot

You have to see it to believe it.

Rice University's mascot, Sammy the Owl, got ejected from the team's basketball game against Tulane on Wednesday for bumping an official. And after Sammy hit the showers, it was all downhill for Rice. The Owls ending up losing to the Green Wave on a buzzer-beating layup.

Anyways, watch the clip of the day below.

Lights... Camera... Anderson

Former Commodore great Chantelle Anderson (1999-2003) joined Dave Neal and Debbie Antonelli as an analyst during last night's Fox Sports Net women's basketball broadcast of Vanderbilt's 72-61 overtime win over Arkansas.

Anderson currently plays for the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, but will continue to serve as a college analyst during the current offseason. She still stands as Vanderbilt women's basketball's all-time leading scorer and only two-time Kodak All-American. She was also inducted into Vanderbilt Athletics' inaugural Hall Of Fame last September.

Read More about Anderson's experience on television last night in an article by Mike Organ of The Tennessean.

(Photo above is of Anderson and Antonelli -- taken by John Russell)

Langford to play in all-star game Saturday

Senior safety Reshard Langford is scheduled to participate in the The Western Refining Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game Saturday at 2 p.m. CT in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Langford will suit up for The Nation, coached by Florida Atlantic's Howard Schnellenberger, in the third annual senior showcase event. Professional scouts and team officials will be on hand to evaluate players as they prepare for the 2009 NFL Draft.

Check out the entire roster for both teams by clicking here.

Fans will have several ways of following the action. The game will be televised to a national audience via CBS College Sports Network (DirecTV channel 613; Dish Network channel 152), and that television feed also will be available as a live online video pay-per-view at a cost of $7.95. For information on the availability of CBS College Sports in your area, click here.

Basketball Articles Galore

Check out today's listings of men's and women's basketball articles from The Tennessean, The City Paper, and the Vanderbilt Hustler. The men's squad will next travel to Auburn Saturday (1 p.m. CT) while the women will host Alabama Sunday (2 p.m. CT)

Women's Basketball
Vanderbilt women outlast Arkansas
Vanderbilt owns Arkansas in OT
Anderson works game as analyst

Men's Basketball
Commodores' defense disappears
Vanderbilt maintains healthy attitude
Q&A with coach Kevin Stallings
Friday conversation with Festus Ezeli
'Resilient' Commodores staying focused

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Definitely Good Enough

Thank you Cyndi Lauper for combining two of the greatest things from the 80's -- The Goonies and WWF -- into one spectacular music video that has stood the test of time.

My only complaint is that Chunk and Data should have gotten more air time. Would a "truffle shuffle" have been too much to ask for??

And I'm sure Corey Feldman ("Mouth") is on the horn with his agent about getting another Goonies movie done. I mean, he deserves it after giving a riveting performance in the Lost Boys sequel that surprisingly didn't win him an Oscar nomination (what a travesty).

Also, see if you can name all the former wrestling stars in the clip (led by Captain Lou Albano).

Finally, at the 6:55 mark you'll see why Steven Spielberg stuck to producing and directing rather than acting. Good call, Spielberg.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Close, but no...

Vanderbilt gave a valiant effort in its 86-76 loss at South Carolina Wednesday night, but found out you’re not going to win road games in the SEC by losing the turnover and free throw battles by significant margins.

The Gamecocks converted 22 Commodore miscues into 25 points and also outscored VU by 11 at the foul line on 49 attempts. Both statistics ultimately made the difference in the final outcome, sending Vanderbilt (12-8, 1-5 SEC) to its fourth straight loss in SEC play.

"It was a very physical game on both ends of the floor,” said freshman Jeffery Taylor, who had a career-high 23 points but was one of three Commodores to foul out. “I guess we never really adjusted to how the game was called."

Give Vanderbilt credit for charging back to take the lead with a 16-3 run to start the second half after trailing 42-30. Junior George Drake also contributed another solid effort, scoring a career-best 18 points to make it three straight games for him in double figures.

At the end of the day, it's still another mark in the loss column. And sure, it would be easy to point to the team’s health problems and youthfulness as the main factors for the current skid, but you won’t hear any excuses like that coming from the Commodores' locker room.

"Our players have great character and they're not guys that are going to give in,” head coach Kevin Stallings said. “They're going to keep fighting. I feel terrible for them right now because I want to help them get back in the win column. They're fighting and practicing hard and continuing to have great attitudes. If they do that, we'll come out of this at some point."

Vanderbilt will hit the road once more with a 1 p.m. CT tilt at Auburn Saturday.

Drake, Ezeli to start tonight at USC

Joe Fisher and Tim Thompson just announced on their pregame radio show that Festus Ezeli and George Drake will be in the starting lineup for the Commodores tonight at South Carolina.

Ezeli will replace sophomore A.J. Ogilvy, who's battling a bruised right heel as well as an upper respiratory virus. Drake will start in place of freshman Brad Tinsley.

"George has played well and given us a spark in the last few games," said head coach Kevin Stallings.

This will be the Commodores' eighth different starting lineup on the year. It will be Ezeli's fifth start and Drake's third. Junior Jermaine Beal and freshman Jeffery Taylor have been the two constants in the lineup.

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT. The game won't be televised, but you can listen to the action live on

Register for Summer Camps

Do you have a child that's interested in attending one of Vanderbilt's summer camps? Then check out a variety of options - click here

Video: 2009 baseball commerical

Look up and down the Commodores' 2009 baseball roster and you'll see plenty of new names that will take the diamond at Hawkins Field for the first time.

The overall freshman class was tabbed No. 2 overall by Baseball America. Some of these newcomers -- Sonny Gray, Jason Esposito, Navery Moore, Joe Loftus and Matt Marquis -- were featured in this year's season ticket commercial.

Watch the video spot below.

And don't forget, the season is less than a month away. Reserve your seats by purchasing season tickets starting at $75. Click here to order or call 615.322.GOLD.

More Australian Open Results

Here's another photo from the Australian Open in Melbourne... sent in by a Vanderbilt fan.

Former Commodore Julie Ditty (pictured) participated in the doubles portion of the Grand Slam tennis event. Ditty and partner Carly Gullickson dropped their first round match to the No. 14 pair of Sorana Cirstea and Monica Niculescu, 3-6, 6-2, 3-6.

Bobby Reynolds, another former Vanderbilt star, and teammate Rajeev Ram advanced to the third round of the tournament before falling to the second-ranked brothers tandem of Bob and Mike Bryan, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6.

SEC Basketball Tournament Tickets On Sale

From the Vanderbilt Ticket Office

Tickets to the 2009 Men's and Women's SEC Basketball Tournament are on sale now. The women's tourney is scheduled for March 5-8 in North Little Rock, Ark., while the men's tourney will be held from March 12-15 in Tampa, Fla.

All seating will be based on National Commodore Club Priority. Purchase price includes all games in the tournament and all sales are final. Fees apply to all internet and phone orders.

Click here to order online or call 615.322.GOLD.

C.M. Newton Interview

In the latest Commodore History Corner, Bill Traughber talks with former Vanderbilt basketball head coach C.M. Newton.

Please take some time to read this incredible interview - click here

Newton discusses a variety of topics from his storied career including the infamous tennis ball incident against Florida in 1989 that kept the Commodores from winning the SEC title:

"There was no way we were going to lose. It was crazy to call that technical. It could have been somebody from Florida that threw the tennis ball out there. If you had 30 tennis balls thrown on the court or barrage at Florida then that would have been different. But to have one tennis ball thrown out there and for the official John Clougherty to act that way was inexcusable.

"I think he just overreacted. (Frank) Kornet fouled out and now we've got to go through overtime with (Dwayne) Schintzius still in the game and our center fouled out. At the time I told Clougherty, "John, I've always been a forgiving person, but I don't think I will ever forgive you for that.'"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stallings on Gottfried

We just posted the 104.5 Wake Up Zone's Tuesday morning interview with Kevin Stallings on

In today's segment, Stallings discusses the resignation of Alabama's Mark Gottfried and also tells a story about how former Commodore Matt Freije had to spend an entire day with him.

Click here to listen to the interview.

McGugin's Biggest Loser Off and Running

It's a long athletic year, especially when you are winning. To fight the malaise that often comes with cycling through seasons, it often becomes necessary to find things to offset having to work so many hours. This winter, I decided to bring back McGugin's Biggest Loser which was started two years ago by Cal Cook of the National Commodore Club. The 2007 rendition was a bunch of guys who were mainly concerned with making jokes at each other's expense while trying to get into better shape. Needless to say, most are back for another rendition having found themselves back at square one.

This time around has seen much more interest as we have split 41 total contestants into two teams. Teams are co-ed and composed of various Vanderbilt athletic staff members and a few coaches. Team Gold has solid leadership under Lori Alexander (Associate Director of Student Athletics) who is herself often seen running the steps of Dudley Field. Team Black has the fortune (or misfortune) of having me as defacto leader. My only claim to fame in fitness seems to be that I was runner-up in the 2007 version.

This past Monday's weigh-in resulted in each team losing about 1% of their total initial weight. Team Black lost 41 lbs and Team Gold lost an equally impressive 39 lbs as a unit. Each team also sported two individuals that lost 8 lbs! Joanne Eskreis (Administrative Assistant) and Brett Wulke (Operations) anchored Team Gold while whispers of bulking up prior to the initial weigh-in marred the dietary exploits of Jason Silvers (Marketing) and me.

The plan here is to have some updates on McGugin's Biggest Loser here in the blog and hopefully introduce you to some of the people here at Vanderbilt that you might only know as that "girl I talked to on gameday" or possibly "the dude who picked up your keys in the gym after a game." The contest runs through March 30 with the winning team having bragging rights.

Animal cruelty

When is eating a cupcake a crime?

I saw this clip featured on last week's episode of The Soup.

Poor Pup.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Don't break my stride

With the eighth youngest team in Division I men's basketball (according to, as well as the departure of four seniors from last year's 26-8 squad, you knew there would be a few bumps in the road with Vanderbilt's 2008-09 team.

So how do you rebuild confidence among a team that has (a) only two upperclassmen and (b) lost three-straight conference games by an average of 15 points? Coach Stallings answered the question during Monday's SEC teleconference.

"I think that we have to continue to try to be positive with them to help them learn. I think it can come from them holding each other more accountable. But, I think the biggest way that confidence comes is by knowing what to expect and seeing success. We just don't have anybody playing at a level right now that is giving confidence to the other players.

"Generally speaking, when things are going decently you have one or two guys who you can garner your confidence from if you're another player. You have confidence in yourself, but you know this guy is going to do his part, or he's going to do well, or he's going to create opportunities for the rest of us. We just don't have any of that going on right now. "

Vanderbilt will have to regroup against an experienced South Carolina team that features eight upperclassmen under first-year coach Darrin Horn. The Gamecocks (14-4, 3-2 SEC) are undefeated in SEC home games this year with victories over Ole Miss, Florida and Auburn. And while the Commodores have won three straight in Columbia (and six of the last seven in the series), Stallings knows everything must be earned in order for the Commodores to get back on the right track.

"South Carolina seems to be playing extremely well and very confidently. Like every other opponent in our league, you get no free nights. Nothing comes easily in this league."

Ogilvy Update

During Monday's SEC coaches teleconference, head coach Kevin Stallings told the media that sophomore center A.J. Ogilvy was under the weather leading up to the Florida game.

"A.J. had been in the student hospital a couple days prior to the game and is still sick," Stallings said about Ogilvy, who was already battling a bruised right heal since late December. "He wasn't playing effectively, and there was no sense in leaving him out there because he was only getting worse as time went on. So, I chose not to play him, and I feel badly for him. He tried. He wasn't feeling well."

Ogilvy ended up with a season-low four points in 15 minutes (14 of which were in the first half) against the Gators Sunday. Combine those numbers with the Tennessee loss and he's only shooting 2-for-11 from the field in his last two outings, making it the only times all year he's been held to single digits in scoring. Even Florida head coach Billy Donovan commented that Ogilvy was not himself.

"I know he has been dealing with some things health wise," Donovan said after the Gators' 94-69 victory. "It's hard when your best player is going through some physical ailments."

It's Showtime!

From Ryan Schulz's article on fomer Commodore Eric Jones in January's Commodore Nation magazine:

In the late 1980s, no Vanderbilt player was more ballyhooed than quarterback Eric Jones. After leading the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency and total offense in his first season as a starter in 1987, Vanderbilt took a step into uncharted territory by beginning a full-fledged Heisman Trophy campaign for Jones in 1988, labeled "It's Showtime!"

So what's Jones up to these days? Click here to find out.

Heeere's Johnny

Here's a video of the day. Sure, the clip has been around for awhile, but it came to mind after renting Tropic Thunder on Saturday, which also has a few movie trailer spoofs in it.

I love this video because it's a prime example of how studios seem to take the same vanilla formula to promote their flicks, almost mocking the consumer's intelligence. At the start, you quickly develop the character attachment ("Meet Jack Torrance.. He's a writer looking for inspiration.") using some really overdone instrumental music. Top it off with a heart-tugging Peter Gabriel track over a montage of clips, and you turn one of the scariest movies of all-time into the feel-good movie of the year.

(By the way, Tropic had some good laughs that were mostly centered on Hollywood actors as well as war movies. Tom Cruise pretty much stole the show in his surprise supporting role.)

Stallings' Call-In Show Tonight

Kevin Stallings' Call-In Show airs live from 6:30-7:30 p.m. CT Monday night at the Commodore Grille. Listen locally on 104.5 the Zone or online on For more info, Click Here.

Vanderbilt (12-7, 1-4 SEC) will hit the road for two games starting Wednesday at South Carolina.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Engulfed in Flames

Florida's Chandler Parsons caught fire in a hurry Sunday... and then the rest of his teammates decided to follow suit.

Trailing 15-14 midway through the first half, the sophomore forward drained three straight 3-pointers and the Gators never looked back, leaving Nashville with a 94-69 victory, the Commodores worst home loss since 1996 (Kentucky, 120-81).

"We got it handed to us," said head coach Kevin Stallings. "We did not guard well and they seemed to get any shot they wanted to."

The Commodores were unable to guard in transition and the Gators made them pay for it all day long. Florida finished with a season-high 15 3-pointers (of 25), just missing the Memorial Gym record of 16. Parsons ended up having a career outing, scoring 27 points while hitting 7-for-8 from behind the arc. No one could have seen this coming from a guy that was making only 27 percent (19-71) from 3-point range on the year.

"If you give guys open shots, they're capable of making it, whether it's the SEC or whatever conference," said junior guard George Drake. "They made them tonight. It's frustrating because our defense didn't do what we're capable of doing."

Vanderbilt (12-7, 1-4 SEC) will hit the road next with a three-game skid including back-to-back double-digit home losses. While there's still plenty of basketball left to be played, it's definitely gut-check time.

"We're going through rough times right now," said junior guard Jermaine Beal. "We just have to pick it up and find some way to get going in the right direction."

For a full recap with postgame interviews, click here.

Video: Ezeli's block and dunk

Here's video of redshirt freshman Festus Ezeli's block and dunk during Vanderbilt's loss to Florida Sunday. Ezeli finished 3-of-4 from the field with six points, a personal best in SEC play. He also contributed two rebounds and a block in 19 minutes of action.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bennett returns to pursue degree

From Mike Kranzler, The Vanderbilt Hustler

The big man is back on campus.

Earl Bennett, the Southeastern Conference's career receptions leader and current member of the Chicago Bears, has come back to Vanderbilt to work towards his undergraduate degree in the off-season.

"Getting my degree has always been a number one priority so it's a must on my agenda," said Bennett, who is pursuing degrees in both sociology and educational studies.

Click Here to read the rest of Kranzler's article.

More Music City Bowl Highlights

I could watch these clips over and over and over again. They just never get old.

Don't try this at home

Sure, the NFL season is winding down with the Super Bowl only a week away... But it's never too early to start looking ahead to your fantasy team next year.

January Issue of Commodore Nation

The January issue of Commodore Nation is now available online by clicking below. You can toggle between pages by clicking the arrows or you can zoom into the document by clicking it.

Included among the stories in this issue is a piece on professional baseball players, who continue to call Vanderbilt home during the offseason. I also caught up with former Vanderbilt quarterback Eric Jones.

The February 2009 issue will be mailed next week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wirth gets ahead

Here's another outstanding article from today... this time from The City Paper's David Boclair. Boclair provides us with a superb feature on women's basketball senior Christina Wirth. Take a few minutes to sit down and read this -- click here.

Exciting Ending

No. 24 Florida comes to town Sunday after a heartbreaking 70-69 loss at South Carolina last night.

The Gators (16-3, 3-1) were on their way to extending their win streak to 11 and had a seven point lead with 2:27 remaining... But South Carolina (13-4, 2-2) battled back and capitalized on the Florida’s inability to convert two one-and-one tries in the final 12 seconds to create one of the best finishes in college basketball this season.

Watch the video below to see for yourself courtesy of

Losses like that have to be gut-wrenching for a coach. I asked Kevin Stallings earlier today about the emotions a coach goes through after a difficult loss like that.

“It was one of the craziest finishes I’ve ever seen. It’s no fun to lose one like that. I’ve had it happen in the last second where the ball gets thrown the length of the floor. It’s a very frustrating feeling because you can go back and think of 900 things in that game that you could have done differently to have changed (the outcome). But the truth is you probably think there’s something you could have done about it, but there’s really nothing you could have done about it.”

Mascot Basketball video

I loaded in some footage of Sunday's mascot basketball game (sponsored by Noshville Deli), which took place during halftime of the women's matchup with LSU.

A few thoughts...

Best Entrance: Watch the 1:00 mark for Pint Man, the 6'7" Lactose legend, from Purity Dairy. He's pregame enthusiasm ranks right up there with Ray Lewis.

Upon Further Review: Screech from Best One Tire snuck a wrench into the game and wreaked some havoc on the Black team. The ref must have been distracted, because no one saw his attack coming. I wonder if he had brass knucks or a steel chair in the tire as well. We'll find out in the next few days if the Mascot Union gives the tire a hefty suspension for using an illegal object.

Best Moment: Check out Ozzie (Nashville Sounds) at the 3:50 mark. Ozzie almost hit a behind-the-back shot from half court. That had ESPN Top 10 written all over it.

MVP: I've got to give it to the Noshville Pickle. The Pickle was all over the boards and played some tenacious D... and also hit the game-winner on a fadeaway jumper off the glass to to lift the Black Team to a 4-3 victory over Gold (even though the video says the Gold Team won 3-2). Champ (Vanderbilt Children's Hospital) had the other basket for Black, while Gnash (Nashville Predators) showed off his long-range skills by nailing a three-pointer for Gold's only points.

Watch video of the entire game below:

Arkansas writer ranks SEC basketball venues

Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette recently ranked his list of the toughest basketball venues in the SEC.

I'm going to be honest... I'm flabbergasted by where he put Vanderbilt in the East Division. I'm sure if you took a poll of each coach in the SEC you would have different results.

Read for yourself and feel free to comment.

Kiper's NFL Mock Draft

In his latest NFL Mock Draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper projects Vanderbilt junior cornerback D.J. Moore to go to Baltimore as the 26th overall pick in the first round. Kiper also has Moore's stock rising on his Big Board at No. 21. Click Here for more.

Two Commodores have been selected in the first round of the draft in the last three years -- Chris Williams (2008, 14th overall by Chicago) and Jay Cutler (2006, 11th overall by Denver).

The 2009 NFL Draft will take place on April 25 and 26 in New York.

Heel injury slows Ogilvy

Maurice Patton has an in-depth article in today's Tennesseean about A.J. Ogilvy's battle with a nagging right heel injury. Click Here to read the story.

Stallings' Call-In Show tonight

Please Note: Kevin Stallings' Call-In Show has been scheduled for tonight (January 22) from 7-8 p.m. CT. This special broadcast will air live from 104.5 the Zone's main studio, rather than the usual location of the Commodore Grille. Fans can listen locally on 104.5 the Zone or online on For more info, Click Here.

Vanderbilt makes FORTUNE 100 list

From Vanderbilt News Services

For the first time Vanderbilt has been named one of the top 100 best places to work in the United States in FORTUNE magazine’s annual survey, and it is the first educational institution to ever be named to the list.

Click Here to read more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Music City Bowl Desktop Wallpaper

Download new desktop wallpaper celebrating the Commodores' 16-14 win over Boston College in the 2008 Music City Bowl. Click Here!

Finding consistency

It’s no secret. A cold shooting night can be contagious. And when buckets won’t fall early, it can have a snowball effect.

Through four conference games, the Commodores (12-6, 1-3 SEC) have struggled to find an offensive rhythm from the get-go. Vanderbilt is shooting a combined 31 percent (36-for-117) from the field and 22 percent from three-point range (8-for-36) in the first half, including a season-low 18 percent (5-for-27) during last night’s 76-63 loss to Tennessee.

Despite the rough starts in SEC play, Vanderbilt has remained within striking distance, trailing by no more than eight points entering the second half. But playing from a deficit can take its toll on a younger team over the course of a game.

"We start off poorly and they start off well, and we spend the rest of the night playing from behind,” head coach Kevin Stallings said about the Tennessee game. “Now your margin for error is way down.

“It just seemed like there was a lid on that basket in the first half. We dug ourselves a hole and every time we needed to make something happen in the second half, we seemed like we'd miss a shot or a free throw."

One of the difficulties has been that opponents are buckling down in the post to contain Vanderbilt’s top-scoring threat, A.J. Ogilvy, forcing the Commodores to hit shots from the outside. Last night was no different as VU went 6-for-23 from downtown while Ogilvy ended up with one field goal on six attempts, both season lows.

"If they choose to play that type of defense on us, we're going to have to step up and hit perimeter shots,” Stallings said. “That's just what we're going to have to do."

With the Commodores reeling from its first 1-3 conference start since 2002-03, they'll need to find some consistency on the offensive end to turn things around.

“When it comes down to it, certain guys have to play better," Stallings added. "We'll have to go back and look at the film. We had four starters that had three field goals and that's not going to do it. We just have to figure out a way to help them.”

Drake Elevates His Game

When it feels like there is a lid on the basket and nothing seems to be going right, you wouldn’t usually put George Drake at the top of the list of players who would be most likely to keep Vanderbilt in the game.

However, on Tuesday he was that player for the Commodores. Although Vanderbilt lost the game 76-63, Drake did everything he could to keep the Commodores within shouting distance. The Calera, Ala., native came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points on 8 of 15 shooting, while grabbing six rebounds.

Drake’s points not only paced the Commodores, they also came during critical moments where it seemed like the game was close to getting away. On three occasions, Drake had bursts where he scored four and six consecutive points to bring the crowd back into the game, while cutting into the Vols’ lead.

On a night when it was evident that Vanderbilt’s freshmen were fighting nerves, it was Drake – the team’s most experienced player – who was the team’s steadying hand.

As a redshirt junior, Drake has been through more games than anyone on the team, and it was because of that experience that Head Coach Kevin Stallings believes Drake was so efficient.

“He is experienced and this game doesn’t bother him,” Stallings said. “We had some guys with the jitters out there when it started and no matter how much I tried to talk them out of it, they were jittery when the game began.”

If Drake was jittery, he sure hid it well from the opening tip on. His first four points ended Vanderbilt’s scoring drought in which they started the game 1 of 9 from the floor.

Drake elevated his game even further in the second half, where he scored 12 of his 16 points. With Tennessee holding a 37-26 advantage, Drake followed a tip-in with a steal and a lay-in to pull Vanderbilt within seven (37-30) with 14:53 to play.

Drake’s final scoring run, and also his best, came with Tennessee leading 49-36 with 11:17 to play. He scored six straight points to cut Tennessee’s lead to single digits, 51-42, with 9:57 to play. During the run, he also added a rebound and a steal, which he converted into a layup.

“My job is to do what I have always done which is to come off the bench and provide energy and tonight that’s what I felt like I did,” Drake said.

Drake did provide the energy, but it wasn’t enough to spark the rest of the team. He shot 53.3 percent from the floor, while the rest of the team managed to make just 27.9 percent of their shots. His eight made baskets also accounted for 40 percent of the team’s makes.

On a night where nothing seemed to go right on the offensive end, Drake’s performance was the silver lining for the Commodores on an otherwise cold night inside Memorial Gym and in Nashville.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rogers' SEC Baseball preview

Check out Kendall Rogers' 2009 SEC Baseball season preview. Rogers gives his choices for the preseason All-Conference team and predicts each division's order of finish. Find out where he ranks the Commodores - Click Here.

Get ready for tonight's game

Here are a bunch of links to get ready for tonight's home game with Tennessee at 8 p.m. CT. Make sure you wear white to the Gym for the annual "White Out" spearheaded by our student body.

Game Preview
The official preview with notes for both teams plus media info -- Read More

Monday's SEC Teleconference
Find out what Kevin Stallings and Bruce Pearl had to say about the matchup in Monday's SEC teleconference -- Read Quotes

Coach Stallings on 104.5
Stallings was a guest on the 104.5 Wake Up Zone Tuesday -- Listen

Around the Web
VU ready for wild atmosphere
VU-UT doesn't have the hype
Memorial won't help UT's offense
Pearl: Vanderbilt will be physical
Pearl before Vanderbilt/Memphis games
Vols visit odd place to shoot better

Presidential Video of the Day

Congratulations to Barack Obama for being sworn in as the nation's 44th president earlier today. Several of us around the office gathered around the tube to watch his historic inauguration. (Of course, you wouldn't have known that since CNN didn't have our reaction on camera like several other cities).

So, here's a video of the day from Presidents Of The United States of America. Ninjas and peaches. It doesn't get much better than this.

Benningfield Update

Here's an update on another former Commodore...

Women's basketball standout Jenni Benningfield (2001-04) is currently playing for the Dandenong Rangers in the top level professional women's league in Australia.

You'll see in the above photo that Benningfield's wearing protective glasses. Benningfield was poked in the eye and fractured her cheekbone a few weeks ago. She returned to the court Saturday and played 12 minutes and scored four points in a 62-60 loss to the Bendigo Spirit. For the season, she leads the Rangers in scoring (15.0) and rebounding (7.2).

Benningfield was a member of the WNBA's Indiana Fever in 2005 and spent time overseas playing in Spain. She was orginally drafted by Charlotte in the 2004 WNBA Draft.

(Thanks again to the Commodore fan that sent in picture and update)

Reynolds' Down Under

Here's a picture of former Vanderbilt tennis star Bobby Reynolds competing at the 2008 Australian Open in Melbourne. Reynolds, who is ranked No. 69 in the world, dropped his first round match in straight sets to No. 21 Tommy Robredo. He is also scheduled to play in the doubles bracket with partner Rajeev Ram this week.

Last year, Reynolds matched his best showing in a Grand Slam by advancing to the third round at Wimbledon. He also made it to the third round in the 2005 Australian Open.

Thanks to the Vanderbilt fan that sent in this photo. If any of out you there reading this have pictures you want to submit, just email me by clicking here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Watch Balcomb's TV Show

Make sure you check out this week's episode of Comcast Spotlight's Commodore Connection with Melanie Balcomb. Here's a listing for program dates and times:

CSS (locally) - Tuesday, January 20 at 6:30 a.m. CT
Comcast Ch. 49 (locally) - Tuesday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m. CT
CSS (regionally) - Wednesday, January 21 at 4:00 p.m. CT

For the season schedule, including air dates for Kevin Stallings' show, click here.

Freshmen Preparing For Intense Matchup

The national rankings aren’t there and the combined records aren’t as gaudy as last year’s meeting at Memorial Gym, but one thing that won’t be missing from last year is the intensity level that will be on display Tuesday when Vanderbilt and Tennessee square off (8 p.m. ESPN).

That intensity level is something that Vanderbilt’s freshman class understands they must be ready for.

“The older players have been telling me that the guys really get after it and they are hyped up a little bit more for this game,” freshman guard Brad Tinsley said. “They told us just to be ready for it and to weather the storm and get through it.”

Adding to the intensity of the game is the atmosphere in the building. For the second year in a row, the game has been dubbed a “White Out,” which is sure to add to the energy in the building. As a result, the crowd will be the most electric home crowd that Vanderbilt’s freshmen have ever played in front of.

“The guys have told me that the crowd really gets into it and that it is a magic atmosphere,” freshman forward Jeffery Taylor said.

It is an atmosphere that Head Coach Kevin Stallings has come to appreciate from the sidelines.

“It is one of the more special nights,” Stallings said. “I wouldn’t say it is unique in and of itself. There are some other nights that are awfully special in here as well, but it is one of the good ones for sure.”

For as much of a home-court advantage the crowd can provide the Commodores, Stallings also understands that the emotion in the stands could present a new challenge for his young team to overcome.

“(The atmosphere) can be distracting that way too for young guys,” Stallings said. “Hopefully we will handle the atmosphere and the environment and use it to our advantage.”

Video highlights of WBB win over LSU

Vanderbilt's women's basketball team moved to 3-0 in the SEC for the first time since 2000-01 after defeating LSU 75-67 Sunday afternoon at Memorial Gym. Click here to watch free highlights of the game.

Baseball Season Tickets On Sale

2009 baseball season tickets are now on sale starting at only $75. After two consecutive season ticket sellouts at Hawkins Field, make sure that you get your seats today. Click Here to buy your tickets or call 615.322.GOLD.

Stallings' Call-In Show scheduled for Thursday

Please Note: Kevin Stallings' Call-In Show has been scheduled for this Thursday night (January 22) from 7-8 p.m. CT, instead of Monday. This special broadcast will air live from 104.5 the Zone's main studio, rather than the usual location of the Commodore Grille. Fans can listen locally on 104.5 the Zone or online on For more info, Click Here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Spread the Word: White Out Tuesday

In case you haven't heard, the students are spearheading a "White Out" for the second year in a row at Vanderbilt's home basketball game with Tennessee Tuesday night at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Last year, the Vols rolled in to town with a No. 1 ranking, but fell victim to Memorial Magic in front of a nationally televised audience. The entire crowd joined in by dressing in white... and it looked incredible. If you don't remember, then click here for photos.

So spread the word to all ticket holders you know. Let's do it again. Wear White to the game to show your support for the Commodores.

Video of the Day: Hang Time

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mistakes prove costly in loss to MSU

Vanderbilt fell to 1-2 in the conference after suffering a 73-66 loss to Mississippi State Saturday night in Starkville.

Coach Kevin Stallings gave his thoughts on the game during his postgame interview with Joe Fisher:

"We've got a good group of competitors. It wasn't our physical effort that got us tonight. We just didn't play smart enough. We've got to be an intelligent basketball team to be a good basketball team in my opinion and we just didn't play intelligently tonight and that's what beat us. We didn't defend well in the second half and that had something to do with them (MSU). I just thought, even in the first half, when we had a chance, I thought we got out of control and our veterans committed bad fouls. We had them in trouble because (Jarvis) Varnado was on the bench and then A.J. and Jermaine get in foul trouble for us, both on plays that you shouldn't commit fouls. We were our own worst enemies at times."

"They shot 63 percent (in the second half) which means we didn't guard well enough. Granted, some of them were tough shots but they scored 15 points in the first five minutes of the second half. That's just unacceptable. We're not going to survive those kind of stretches very often. It's disappointing. We thought we could have played better and played a lot smarter. You've got to give them credit because they made shots and they played well."

Here are some key stats that didn't go the Commodores' way:

*Mississippi State outshot Vanderbilt at the free throw line, 22-8, which resulted in 13 more points for the Bulldogs.

*The Commodores weren't able to capitalize when MSU's Jarvis Varnado was on the bench after picking up his second foul in the opening five minutes in the first half. With Varnado out, the Bulldogs outscored the 'Dores by eight to take a five-point lead into halftime. Also, A.J. Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal only played nine and 11 minutes respectively in the first half due to foul trouble.

*Vanderbilt's NCAA-leading field goal percentage defense allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 63.6% in the second half.

*The Bulldogs scored 19 points off VU's 17 turnovers. Probably the most costly turnover was when the Commodores had cut the deficit to two with 16:49 left in the game, but Phil Turner stole the ball around midcourt and quickly converted a three-pointer to push the margin to five. Turner's basket also triggered a 14-3 run for MSU.

*Guard Ravern Johnson had 10 of his 18 points during a six and a half minute span in the second half to help MSU extend their lead to 16 with 8:54 remaining. The Commodores only got as close as six for the rest of the game.

Mississippi State pregame notes

While Vanderbilt leads the nation in field goal percentage defense (.359), Mississippi State is not too far behind (.369 -- good for second in the SEC).

Stellar defense has been a common trait of Rick Stansbury’s teams. Last year, the Bulldogs led the conference in scoring defense (65.5), field goal percentage defense (.370), rebounding offense (40.7) and blocked shots (7.85).

Even if it ends up being the storyline of tonight's matchup, expect a different pace of play compared to the Commodores' 50-40 win over Georgia.

“Mississippi State’s a four guard (lineup), and Georgia is a big, powerful inside team. Mississippi State’s a fast, fast, fast four-guard team that shoots 3s and really makes the game fast when they’re on offense. I think it’ll be a much, much different game.”

The Bulldogs have taken advantage of the opposition with their smaller lineup, especially from three-point range. MSU is shooting 41-for-92 (.445) during its four-game winning streak, and overall, they’ve converted the most 3’s in the league (130) with junior guard Ravern Johnson (36) and sophomore guard Barry Stewart (31) leading the way. Freshman point guard Dee Bost can also hit the trifecta, hitting 7-of-17 behind the arc during the streak.

Stansbury weighed in on his team’s style of play during Thursday’s teleconference:

“Playing small probably helps defend that dribble a little bit better than playing big. Then we give up some other things on the post ups and rebounds. We've gotten better. We're not going to be great just because of our physicality, or lack of physicality I should say. We have basically one guy in our starting lineup who weighs more than 180 pounds (Jarvis). Those other four guys are basically 180 pounds and under.

“So, we're not a very physical team, but we have to utilize our quickness the best we can and continue to develop some attitude about us defensively, some determination, some grit. That's gotten better. It's not where you want it to be, but it's gotten better. That'll be a work in progress until the end."

Taylor better than advertised

Freshman guard Jeffery Taylor has been nothing short of impressive in his freshman campaign. Taylor is second on the team in points (12.3), rebounds (6.3), and steals (21), and also third in blocked shots (9).

“Jeff Taylor has been better at everything than I thought he would be at this point in the season,” Stallings said. "He’s been a better defender, a better rebounder, a better scorer. He’s a consistent practice player. Jeff Taylor has been an absolute bright spot for our team.”

Will the streak continue?

No, I'm not talking about Vanderbilt’s 3-point streak (which was almost in jeopardy against Georgia until Lance Goulbourne connected on one at the 17:21 mark of the second half).

Mississippi State has won seven straight against the Commodores at Humphrey Coliseum and nine out of the last 10. The last time Vanderbilt walked away with a win at the Hump was on Feb. 27, 1993 when Eddie Fogler’s squad routed the Bulldogs, 80-39. Fogler eventually guided the Commodores to a conference title and a NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.

The center of attention

During Thursday’s press conference and coaches teleconference, Kevin Stallings fielded a variety questions about tonight’s matchup at Mississippi State. It didn’t take long to get to the center of attention.

“They play primarily man-to-man (defense), and play it well,” Stallings said, “and the big fellow back there causes lots of problems.”

That “big fellow” would be center Jarvis Varnado.

The 6’9 junior leads the nation in blocked shots with 90, a total that surpasses nine other teams in the SEC. Last season, he tied the SEC single-season mark set by former LSU great Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 with 157 blocks, earning him the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in a unanimous vote.

With such a large number of blocks, you would think Varnado would flirt with foul trouble. That’s not the case, as he has yet to foul out of a game this year and has only been charged with four fouls twice (although he did foul out in overtime of last year’s loss at Vanderbilt).

So how do you game plan against the bulldogs’ shot-blocking machine in the middle?

“There's nothing you can do to keep him from affecting what happens around the basketball when he's on defense,” said Stallings. “He's probably the most prolific shot blocker in college basketball history. He's going to block some shots, and he's going to alter a lot of others. You just have to play through that and figure out other ways to score.”

“Sometimes you have to take it at him. Sometimes you don’t need to challenge him. Sometimes it’s better just throwing it back out when he’s getting ready to block it. There are ways to keep shot blockers off balance, and you have to have a feel for that. Sometimes if you get your work done before you catch the ball, then the shot blocker can be put at a disadvantage. Now, on the ones who are 50-50, that kid’s going to win a lot of those.”

Sure, Varnado might be best known for his ability to reject all on-comers, but the Brownsville, Tenn., native, has had a positive presence in the Bulldogs offense as well. He leads MSU with 12.9 points per game (up from 7.9 in 2007-08), is second in the SEC with 9.8 rebounds per game and third in field goal percentage at .609. He also has recorded a team-high six double-doubles and has scored 20-plus points four times this season.

“He's going to affect some shots,” Stallings added, “and that's why he's a great defensive player, and his offense has improved dramatically over last year. He's one heck of a college player.”

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT from Humphrey Coliseum. Fans can watch the matchup on FSN South, or listen to the game on 104.5 the Zone. Click here for a game preview.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Vote for Derrick Byars

Vanderbilt fans, you can help Derrick Byars get selected to the 2009 NBA D-League All-Star game. All you have to do is vote!

The former Commodore is currently averaging 17.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 2.6 apg for the Bakersfield Jam. Byars is also fifth in the league in three point percentage (.488). He's has been on a tear of late, scoring at least 20 points in eight of his last 11 games.

In his senior season at Vanderbilt, Byars was named the 2007 SEC Player of the Year and led the 'Dores to a Sweet 16 appearance.

The NBA D-League All-Star game is scheduled for February 14 at 1 p.m. CT in Phoenix, Ariz.

Click Here to Vote

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stansbury reflects on Foster's 42

We all remember what happened the last time Vanderbilt and Mississippi State met on the hardwood.

Shan Foster's magical 42-point effort -- which included hitting nine three-pointers in a row -- lifted the Commodores to an unforgettable 86-85 overtime victory. It will go down as one of the greatest single-game performances in Memorial Gym history.

The Commodores and Bulldogs will square off for the first time since that memorable night, this time in Starkville for a 7 p.m. CT tipoff on Saturday.

Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury talked about last year's game in Thursday's SEC coaches teleconference:

"After the season's over and you reflect a little bit, that may have been as tough of a loss as I've ever had in my 10 years as a coach. It was 10 years last year as a coach. I've been in some tough losses, but the reason it was so tough is we were playing on such a big stage, two really good teams, senior night at Vanderbilt, and we were both top-25 teams at that point, and we were playing basically to win that to go into our last game with a chance to win the overall SEC championship.

"Our team really played well, but that performance is absolutely the best single-handed, one game performance I've ever been a part of that Shan Foster put on from the 16-minute mark on. Again, I remember it perfectly, he was 9-for-9 in that second half. Every shot he made it was a crucial shot, a big shot, a big play at certain times of the game. He just made shots to keep them in it. It was come from behind, keep them in it over and over and over, and the game ended just the way... we were up two, shot clock running out and basically again Foster jumps up from about 25-28 feet contested and guarded to win the game on senior night. A huge stage, a huge game and again the best single game performance I've ever witnessed. I remember it very well."

Take a trip down memory lane and watch the clips below:

Video: Tinsley's Dunk

Guard Brad Tinsley has been a marksman from long range this season, connecting on a team-high 35 three-pointers so far in his freshman campaign.

But it was his ability to take the ball to the rack that created a buzz among the Commodore crowd during Wednesday's 50-40 victory over Georgia.

Coach Stallings commented on Tinsley's dunk after the game:

"I didn't think that I would ever come in here and look down at the stat sheet to see that Brad Tinsley had one field goal made and it was a dunk."

"I've seen him dunk like that in practice. Brad is very deceptive athletically. Give him a little bit of a running start and he'll poke one on you."

Sure, it may have been Tinsley's only bucket of the night, but it was a memorable one. Watch the clip below with Joe Fisher's radio call.

Click Here to view more highlights from the Georgia game.

Getting defensive

Defense was once again the headline for the Commodores' 50-40 victory over Georgia Wednesday night at Memorial Gym.

Vanderbilt limited the Bulldogs to 33 percent shooting and only allowed two free-throw attempts the entire game (which didn't occur until the 3:56 mark of the second half). The Commodores also blocked seven shots and forced 20 turnovers. Overall, it was Georgia's seventh lowest-scoring output since 1960.

When you think about it, the Commodores' performance on Wednesday was nothing out of the ordinary. Check out these statistics for the 2008-09 season:

*The Commodores lead the SEC in scoring defense (58.0 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.359) and are first in the nation in FG% defense in the NCAA rankings.

*Vanderbilt has now held its opponents to less than 35.5% FG shooting in eight games this year.

*Only three opponents (VCU, UIC, Kentucky) have shot higher than 40% in a game.

*Vanderbilt has only allowed two opponents, UIC and Kentucky, to score 70 points or more.

Impressive numbers indeed. So what makes Vanderbilt's defense so successful? Just ask Georgia head coach Dennis Felton.

"I think one of the main reasons is because they're huge. They're just so big. They've got not only big post players, but big guards. Their wings are 6'8 and long and athletic, their point guard (Beal) is 6'3 and big and strong. They just do a really good job of staying right in front of you, making it hard to penetrate the paint."

Nothing minor here

Over the last month, preseason honors have been rolling in for junior pitcher Mike Minor.

The Chapel Hill, Tenn., native was recently named second-team preseason All-American by National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Collegiate Baseball. He's also on the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player.

Minor had a successful offseason and was recognized as the Summer Player of the Year by Baseball America. He went 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA during his tour with USA Baseball National team.

The Commodores are scheduled to open up the 2009 slate with a trip out West beginning on February 20 at Stanford.

Watch a replay of the Georgia game

We just posted the jumbotron feed of last night's 50-40 win over Georgia. So for those of you that were out-of-town and didn't get to see the game since it wasn't televised, sign-up for All Access (free) and click here.

By the way, one of the plays everyone was talking about after the game was Brad Tinsley's dunk in the second half. Take a look at the clip around the 01:25:00 mark.

We'll cut up some game highlights later this afternoon and will post them on

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Madness - 5

Former Commodore great Will Perdue was also in the house... and took part in the "Best Radio Call" promotion with three luck contestants.

The selected students had to do their best rendition of Joe Fisher's call of Jermaine Beal's game-winning layup at South Carolina last year.

Quite entertaining.. and harder to do than you think!

Also, you'll see the student in this picture wearing a retro No. 4 jersey... the same number as sophomore center A.J. Ogilvy. Or the number could have been in honor of these former Commodores: Barry Booker, Derrick Byars, Darius Coulibaly, Malik Evans, Anddrikk Frazier, or Haworth Parks.

You decide.

Oh, the first 500 students that made it to Madness received the jersey. Definitely a nice gift.

Madness - 4

ESPN's Buster Olney was the emcee for a "Who knows Ryan Flaherty better?" competition at Memorial Madness.

The contestants? None other than baseball head coach Tim Corbin and junior Andrew Giobbi.

For one of the questions, Olney asked Corbin and Giobbi if they knew what Flaherty's favorite movie was ... Corbin joked it was Titanic ... and Giobbi responded with the correct answer, The Departed.

Overall, Giobbi edged Corbin 4-3 to take bragging rights.

Madness - 3

Here's a view of the student section at Memorial Madness. I'd say over half the seats were filled two hours prior to tip... always a nice sign for the SEC home opener.

Madness - 2

During Memorial Madness, the women's basketball team got the students fired up with a good ol' t-shirt toss. Really, who doesn't like free t-shirts? The team also received one of the biggest ovations of the night for their win over Tennessee.

Memorial Madness Underway

The second annual Memorial Madness student pep rally is underway. Vanderbilt students are currently flooding into Memorial Gym in anticipation of the 5 p.m. CT event.

One item of note already.... The staff running tonight's program -- VSG Athletic Committee and Vandy Fanatics -- are wearing shirts in honor of Coach Stallings (see picture above). These are pretty sweet... I'd love to see them do a large run of these for the student section one game.

I'll give a few more updates about what transpires over the next hour, so stay tuned!

Olney remains avid VU supporter

More on Buster Olney from my blog earlier today...

Ryan Schulz wrote a nice feature on the Vanderbilt alum in the July 2008 issue of Commodore Nation Magazine. Click here to read.

Poll question for "Shootaround with Beth & Debbie"

The poll question for “Shootaround with Beth & Debbie” this week is...

Who will win the Southeastern Conference (SEC) women's basketball regular season title?

Cast your vote for the Vanderbilt Commodores or the team of you choice at

Results will be discussed on the Jan. 21 “Shootaround” show.

Olney and Perdue on campus tonight

Vanderbilt alums Buster Olney and Will Perdue will be in attendance for tonight's SEC home opener with Georgia at 7 p.m. CT.

Olney and Perdue will first serve as the special guests at the annual student Pep Rally, Memorial Madness, two hours prior to the game. The first 500 students will receive retro jerseys, and the opportunity to win many other prizes from CVS and Wendys. The event will also include activities featuring the women's basketball and baseball teams. Memorial Madness will only be open to Vanderbilt students.

Olney and Perdue will also be recognized during a special game ball presentation at half time, so make sure you stay in your seats. Olney will then emcee a contest where a lucky fan has a chance at winning a Jeep Wrangler.

Olney graduated from Vanderbilt in 1988 and majored in history. He's currently a senior writer for ESPN the magazine, and a regular analyst on ESPN's Baseball Tonight.

Perdue was an All-American for Vanderbilt basketball in his senior year (1987-88), and led the Commodores to its first 20-win season since 1973-74 as well as a NCAA Tournament berth. He was a four-time NBA champion, and now works as an ESPN analyst.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SEC Oddity

According to Eddie Timanus of USA TODAY, "the Southeastern Conference has no (men's basketball) teams ranked for the first time since USA TODAY began administering the poll in the 1991-92 season."

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings discussed the topic during his weekly interview with the 104.5 Wake Up Zone:

"I can't remember a time in the 10 years that I've been in the league where that would have been the case. Our league's gotten off to a slow start. We've had a lot of turnover in our league. We've got a league with a lot of young players including us. It's just kind of the way it is. I still think come NCAA Tournament time, our teams will fare well in the tournament and we'll represent ourselves very well, but it is very unusual for us to be in that situation."

Arkansas (12-2), Tennessee (10-4) and Florida (14-2) are just outside the poll in the "others receiving votes" section.

SEC-TV to countdown top bowl moments

In this week's episode of SEC-TV, co-hosts Dave Neal and Natalie Taylor will count down the SEC’s top five SEC bowl moments, including:

-LSU wins Chick-fil-A Bowl; Ole Miss wins AT&T Cotton Bowl
- Kentucky wins the AllState Liberty Bowl
-Georgia wins the Capital One Bowl
-Vanderbilt wins the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
-Florida wins the BCS National Championship

Catch the show on the following dates and times:

Thursday, January 15 at 5:30 p.m. CT
FOX Sports South
FOX Sports Carolinas
FOX Sports Tennessee

Friday, January 16 at 8:30 a.m. CT

Ogilvy update

Head Coach Kevin Stallings commented on sophomore center A.J. Ogilvy's status for Wednesday's game with Georgia during last night's call-in show. Ogilvy's missed two of the last three games with a bruised right heel injury.

"Our hope is that A.J. is going to play Wednesday night. However, he did not practice Monday and we hope to have him practice some Tuesday in preparation for that game."

In an interview with the 104.5 Wake Up Zone this morning, Stallings was asked to what extent the Georgia game plan would be with or without Ogilvy in the lineup:

"Well I don't think that there's a whole lot we can do relative to separate (game) plans and things like that. Our play calling would be a little bit different during the game if he's there or not there. We'll have to play the way that we play. There might be a tweak here and there but our guys, especially our younger guys, are not capable of separate game plans and so it's just a thing to where we have to go with what we do and hope that he can play."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Watch Stallings' TV Show

Make sure you check out this week's episode of Comcast Spotlight's Commodore Connection with Kevin Stallings. Here's a listing for program dates and times:

CSS (locally) - Tuesday, January 13 at 6:30 a.m. CT
Comcast Ch. 49 (locally) - Tuesday, January 13 at 7:30 p.m. CT
CSS (regionally) - Wednesday, January 14 at 4:00 p.m. CT

For the season schedule, including air dates for Melanie Balcomb's show, click here.

No ordinary teenager

If you missed Saturday Night Live last weekend, host Neil Patrick Harris paid tribute to his former teenage genius alter ego, Doogie Howser, M.D., with this digital short below.

The only thing missing was a cameo by Vinnie Delpino.. "Hey Doog!!"

Pre-Order March to Music City DVD

Vanderbilt's first bowl victory in 53 years capped off a historic season for Head Coach Bobby Johnson and the Commodores! Re-live the magical moments from the 2008 season including the 5-0 start, national ranking, ESPN College Game Day on campus, and the thrilling win over Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. Catch exclusive interviews, behind the scenes footage, game highlights, radio calls, and bowl events of this memorable season. "March to Music City" is a keepsake for all Vanderbilt fans....Go Dores!

CLICK HERE to pre-order your copy now. Starts shipping in late January 2009!

Stallings' Call-In Show Tonight

Kevin Stallings' Call-In Show airs live from 6:30-7:30 p.m. CT Monday night at the Commodore Grille. Listen locally on 104.5 the Zone or online on For more info, Click Here.

Vanderbilt (11-4, 0-1) will return to the court Wednesday to host Georgia at 7 p.m. CT inside Memorial Gym.

CSS to replay WBB win over UT

Did you miss Vanderbilt's 74-58 win over the Lady Vols yesterday? Then tune in to watch a replay of the game on CSS today at 11:30 a.m. CT.

Stand up and shout

Recognize these guys?

Chris DeGeorge, Adam Smotherman, T.J. Greenstone, Larry Smith and Joel Caldwell had an up-close view of the women’s basketball team’s impressive 74-58 victory over Tennessee Sunday afternoon at Memorial Gym.

The football players arrived over thirty minutes prior to tip-off to secure their seats in the front row of the student section. It was the perfect location to give the Commodores an extra boost of vocal support against their in-state rivals.

“We're real good friends with the team,” Greenstone said, "and it’s just a lot of fun to come out here and watch them play. They deserve our support.”

Student-athletes from several other Vanderbilt sports were also in attendance to cheer on their peers, a true sign of the camaraderie between teams throughout the athletic year.

“We all go to class and play our respective sports,” Greenstone added. “Everyone is just rooting for each other. We're all in it together.”

One side note -- It’s no surprise that Greenstone’s been coming to the women’s basketball games regularly since he was a true freshman in the fall of 2007. His mother, Mary Beth, played basketball at Edinboro University and his older sister, Mindy, is a senior forward for North Greenville (S.C.) University.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A long time coming ...

Women's basketball head coach Melanie Balcomb hadn't beaten Tennessee since she coached Xavier to a victory over the Lady Vols in the 2001 NCAA Tournament.

Until today.

No. 24 Vanderbilt used a 20-4 run in the second half to roll past the seventh-ranked Lady Vols 74-58 in front of 9,650 fans packed inside Memorial Gym.

The victory snapped Tennessee's 16-game winning streak in the series, and more importantly, pushed the Commodores to 2-0 in the SEC as they chase for that coveted regular season title.

Balcomb talked about what the win meant in her postgame press conference, and Tennessee coach Pat Head Summitt offered praise for the Commodores in defeat.

Melanie Balcomb:

"Here's all I have to say. I guess I can finally smile for once."

"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!'"

Pat Head Summitt:

"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."

For more reaction including video highlights, interviews and photos, click here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Injury keeps Ogilvy out of Kentucky game

Sophomore center A.J. Ogilvy did not play in Saturday's 70-60 loss at Kentucky after aggravating an injury to his right heel during yesterday's practice.

Head Coach Kevin Stallings commented on Ogilvy's status in his postgame press conference:

“We knew A.J. wasn’t going to be able to go this morning. He hurt his foot yesterday in the first 15 minutes of practice. He sat out of the remaining part of practice. We hoped it would get better in time for the game, but obviously it didn’t. As a result, we didn’t score very many points inside today. He is certainly our best low-post player but that is not to say that if he played then the outcome of the game would be any different.”

Ogilvy's foot injury caused him to miss the first game of his career against Saint Francis on December 31. He returned to the lineup in Vanderbilt's following outing at UMass. He leads the Commodores in scoring (16.5) and rebounding (7.2) this season.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Holwerda has new priorities

You might remember former Commodore basketball standout Jason Holwerda (2001-05) locking down the opposition's best scorer... Or his ability to finish on a fast break, whether it be a lay-up or a thunderous slam (LSU anyone?)... Or as one of the glue guys on Vanderbilt's 2003-04 Sweet 16 squad. The versatile guard also made his mark in the record books, finishing his career ranked on VU's top 10 lists for steals with 138.

So what's Holwerda doing these days?

Find out by reading Gene Henley's article in today's edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press - Click Here

Women’s Hoops Tidbits

The Commodores tipped off conference play with an 85-76 road win against Alabama Thursday night. I have listed below interesting statistics, in my opinion, that emerged from that contest.

- The ‘Dores moved to 18-9 (5-2 under Melanie Balcomb) in conference openers with last night’s victory. Vanderbilt kicked off last season with a win against an SEC West foe, beating Mississippi State 72-50 in Memorial Gym. VU also opened the 2006-07 SEC campaign with a 98-61 home win over the West’s Arkansas.

- The Commodores last inaugurated their conference schedule with a road win against the West in the 1999-00 season – a 60-38 decision against Mississippi. Balcomb’s squad moves to 4-3 on the road this season.

- Six ‘Dores scored in double digits against Alabama – Chisholm (11), Marsh (13), Rhoads (12), Risper (17), Tuomi (12) and Wirth (15) – the first time a VU squad has accomplished this since Nov. 20, 2006 against TAMCC.

- Wirth's double-double effort last night, 15 points and 10 rebounds, boosted her into the No. 18 position on VU's all-time scoring list with 1,251. The senior wing player, who entered last night’s affair averaging 14.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, is 44 points behind Na'Sheema Hillmon (1995-98) for No. 17 all-time.

- Rhoads posted a career-high 12 points against Bama. The sophomore guard’s previous high was 11 points against UT-Martin this season – her only other double-digit effort this season. She also made 6-of-6 free throws – a career high in both makes and attempts.

- Risper netted a season-high 17 points last night. The senior guard averaged 6.7 per contest and has totaled double-digit scoring marks in one other game this season – 14 against Cal State-Fullerton. (Risper’s career high (20) came against Ole Miss last season)

- Chisholm, who scored 11, has tallied 117 points in only 16 games this season, shattering her 2007-08 effort of 34 points in 19 contests. The sophomore forward has amassed double-digit efforts in five contests this year, averaging 7.1 points per game before last night.

- Six different VU players have led the team in single game scoring this season: Wirth (six times); Tuomi (five times); Marsh (twice); Mooney (twice), Gibbs (once); and now Risper.

- Alabama entered last night’s tilt holding opponents to 59.3 points per game and 33.7 percent field goal shooting. The Commodores smashed both of those stats with 85 points on 55.4 percent shooting.

- Though Balcomb’s players were outrebounded 38-35, they still held the Crimson Tide below their season average of 46.7 boards per contest with a plus-6.6 rebounding advantage (VU matched its season average of 35.6 boards per game).

- Vanderbilt ranked 10th in the country in field goal percentage at 46.5 percent entering last night’s contest, and eclipsed that mark with 55.4 percent shooting against Alabama.

- The Commodores possessed the No. 34 position in the country in assists per game (16) before the Bama game, which they also eclipsed with 18 last night.

- Balcomb’s unit, 37th in the country in turnovers with 15.7 per contest entering last night’s matchup, gave it up 15 times.

RELATED LINKS: Game Recap  |  Women's Hoop Home Page

Submit your 2009 Hall of Fame ballots

Vanderbilt is now accepting applications for the 2009 Athletic Hall of Fame class.

If you thought a Commodore great was left off of last year's inaugural class, then download a nomination form today and let your voice be heard. (click here)

Applications will be accepted until March 6.

Who do you think should be added to the 2009 class? Post your comments below!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pre-Bama game interview with Balcomb

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.

There's no easy way out

Rupp Arena.

A place where Kentucky has won almost 90 percent (422-56) of its games since it was opened in 1976. A venue that routinely holds over 23,000 screaming fans dressed in a sea of blue. And the home of the NCAA’s all-time winningest program which boasts seven national titles.

Rupp will be the scene of Saturday’s conference opener as Vanderbilt will make its annual trip to Lexington to take on Kentucky.

“It’s intimidating, and a very, very difficult place to play,” Head Coach Kevin Stallings said. “We’ll probably have to play our best game in order to have a chance to win.”

With only four players on the active roster that have taken the floor at Rupp, Stallings plans to take his team on a walk-through Friday night to give them a feel for the building. He joked that he might even pull a scene out of the movie Hoosiers to show that Kentucky’s arena has the same court dimensions as Memorial Gym.

“I’ll have them go out and shoot a few balls to have them understand that our balls can go in their baskets, too.”

Vanderbilt was 0-for-28 at Rupp until scoring a 57-52 victory over the Wildcats on January 10, 2006. The Commodores followed that performance with a win in 2007, and barely dropped last year’s game in double-overtime.

Even with the Commodores’ recent success, sophomore forward Darshawn McClellan knows how tough of an arena it can be.

“Rupp is just crazy,” said McClellan, who scored a career-best 10 points in his only trip. “It’s loud. When I first got there, I was kind of nervous. But, you just have to handle it.”

Freshman guard/forward Lance Goulbourne has never experienced the environment first hand, but has already heard stories of the fabled place.

“People have told me that it’s probably the toughest place we’ll play this season,” said Goulbourne. “I just have to come out and be ready to play, get my teammates hyped, get me hyped and just be ready to go.”

And as Stallings sees it, the Commodores have two ways they can respond to Saturday’s challenge:

“They can choose to go up there and be intimidated or they can choose to embrace one of the most enjoyable and neat things about college basketball.”