Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SI.com recognizes Myron Lewis

by Barca Blog - Vanderbilt fans are familiar with the talents of junior cornerback Myron Lewis... but some on the national stage are finally starting to take notice. Cory McCartney for SI. com put Lewis on his list of ten players primed for breakout seasons in 2009.

We all remember Lewis' game-winning interceptions against Auburn and Boston College, but take a look at where he ranked among Commodores in several statistical areas in 2008:
Sacks - 5.0 (T1st)
Interceptions - 5 (2nd)
Pass Breakups - 6 (2nd)
Pass Defended - 11 (2nd)
Forced Fumbles - 2 (3rd)
Tackles - 76 (T4th)

Oh, and other great news to share. NBC's Friday Night Lights (one of the best shows on TV) has been renewed for two more years. Can't wait for more from Coach Taylor and the boys from Dillon. Plus we'll try to get an exclusive interview with Lyla Garrity when she comes to campus in the fall.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Week 6 Vanderbilt Baseball Notebook

Record Overall: 17-10; Record for the Week: 3-2

Last Week:

3/24 Vanderbilt 10, Austin Peay 5 (Hawkins Field)
3/25 Vanderbilt 4, Wright State 0 (Hawkins Field)
3/27 Vanderbilt 12, Auburn 3 (Auburn, Ala.)
3/28 Auburn 5, Vanderbilt 3 (Auburn, Ala.)
3/29 Auburn 11, Vanderbilt 10 (Auburn, Ala.)

This Week (Buy Tickets):
4/1 at Belmont 6 p.m. CT at Greer Stadium
4/3 vs. Florida (SUN TV) 6 p.m. CT at Hawkins Field
4/4 vs. Florida (FSN TV) 3 p.m. CT at Hawkins Field
4/5 vs. Florida (COX TV) 1 p.m. CT at Hawkins Field

Vanderbilt went 3-2 on the week, winning a pair of midweek games against Austin Peay and Wright State, while losing two of three at Auburn over the weekend … The Commodores’ four-game winning streak was snapped in Saturday’s loss to the Tigers … VU has now lost five straight SEC series dating back to last season against Georgia (May 9-11). They are 4-11 in league games in that span. The last time VU has lost five straight series was in 2002 when they lost six in a row. The last time the Dores have lost three straight conference series in a single season was in 2006 … The series loss to Auburn was the first since the 2002 season and the first time the Commodores have lost in five series against the Tigers under Tim Corbin … Seven of the 10 losses this season have been by two runs or less. VU is 2-5 in one run games and 1-2 in two run games (3-7 combined).

Offensively the Commodores had a pretty strong week hitting .368 with five homers, a triple, 13 doubles and 39 runs scored in five games (7.8 per game). In the three game series against Auburn, VU hit .408 as a team with three homers, 10 doubles and 25 runs scored (8.3 per game) … Freshman Jason Esposito continued his solid first-year as a Commodore going 9-for-18 (.500) on the week with three doubles and five RBI. He was 7-for-12 (.583) in the Auburn series with two doubles and four RBI … Redshirt freshman Aaron Westlake broke out of a mild hitting slump with a 10-for-21 (.476) week with two doubles and five RBI. He had two four-hit games in the Auburn series and went 9-for-14 (.643) with two doubles and four RBI and six runs scored in the three games. His average is now .426 on the year (third in the SEC).

Junior Andrew Giobbi returned to the lineup this weekend, starting all three games in right field while his broken left hand continues to heal. He was 6-for-14 (.429) on the weekend with a homer and three RBI … Freshman Riley Reynolds went 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles, five RBI and four runs scored over five games and is now hitting .346 on the season … Sophomore Steven Liddle went 8-for-21 (.381) with two doubles, a triple, one homer and four RBI … Sophomore Curt Casali was 7-for-20 (.350) with two doubles and six runs scored with four RBI … The big offensive weekend pushed the Commodores batting average to .320 for the year, third best in the league.

The week pitching wise started out strong with the first shutout of the year in a 4-0 win over Wright State on Wednesday, but ended up allowing 19 runs in the three games against Auburn (6.48 ERA). For the week the team compiled a 4.81 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 21 walks in 43.0 innings … Junior ace Mike Minor picked up his first SEC win of the year in Friday’s 12-3 win over Auburn. He struck out a season high 11 batter in seven innings of work and allowed three runs, two earned, off of five hits. He didn’t allow a homer to the Tigers bash brigade that pounded seven the rest of the weekend and now boast 58 on the season to lead the league and NCAA.

Five hurlers, Chase Reid (3.0), Grayson Garvin (2.0), Drew Hayes (2.0), Richie Goodenow (1.0) and Sonny Gray (1.0) combined on a four-hit shutout over Wright State. Reid has extended his scoreless innings streak to 13.1 innings, while Hayes has not allowed a run in 11.2 innings. VU improved defensively over the five games with just three errors in 185 chances (.984 fielding percentage).

VU will play Belmont at Greer Stadium at 6 p.m. on Wednesday before hosting red-hot Florida (winners of nine of 10 including SEC series sweeps of Tennessee and Alabama) over the weekend. Of note, the Belmont game was originally scheduled to be played at Hawkins Field but renovations at Greer Stadium caused the teams to flip-flop home and home dates. The March 18th contest between the teams was played at Hawkins Field instead.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Music City Bowl Rings

by Barca Blog - Click the above image to get your first look at the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl championship rings, which were awarded to the Commodores during today's Awards Banquet at the Cool Springs Embassy Suite. For more photos plus a complete recap, click here.

And Football's Top Awards go to...

by Leathers - Senior safety Reshard Langford, junior linebacker Patrick Benoist and senior receiver George Smith.

Upon receiving the Vanderbilt Hustle Award from Coach Jimmy Kiser, Langford receives a standing ovation from the crowd. Kiser describes Langford "as the heart and soul of this team."

Defensive Coordinator Bruce Fowler presents the Captain's Award to Benoist. The award is selected by Commodore co-captains Langford, Smith and Bradley Vierling.

The final award, the Dedication Award, was presented by Coach Johnson. The only award voted on by the coaching staff goes to Smith, who receives the second standing ovation of the event.

And the Football MVPs are..

by Leathers - Let's move to announcement of Player of the Year winners for the 2008 Commodore football team:

David Leinweber, Dr. Henry Tyler Academic Achievement Award (presented by Faculty Representative Dr. Lucius Outlaw)
• Brett Upson, Special Teams Player of the Year (presented by receivers coach Charlie Fisher)
• Jared Hawkins, Most Valuable Offensive Back (presented by running backs coach Des Kitchings)
• Brandon Barden, Most Valuable Receiver/Tight End (presented by offensive coordinator Ted Cain)
• Thomas Welch, Most Valuable Offensive Lineman (presented by offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell)
• Steven Stone, Most Valuable Defensive Lineman (presented by defensive line coach Rick Logo)
• Chris Marve, Most Valuable Linebacker (presented by linebacker coach Warren Belin)
• D.J. Moore, Most Valuable Defensive Back (presented by secondary coach Jamie Bryant)
T.J. Greenstone, Lifter of the Year (presented by strength coach John Sisk)
Chavez Scott, Offensive Scout of the Year (presented by grad. assistant Norval McKenzie)
Johnell Thomas, Defensive Scout of the Year (presented by grad. assistant Mark Moehring)

Coach Johnson Takes the Stage...

by Leathers - The 2008 co-Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year takes the microphone.

Johnson's opening words: "It is great to be here today. I mean just great."

With that, the head coach introduced the Vanderbilt assistants, referring to them collectively as "the coaching staff of the year," and the entire football support staff from the volunteer managers that travel in advance of the Commodores on the road to team spiritual leader Lance Brown.

Afterward, Coach Johnson began the process of introducing the 2008 Commodore squad. After the head coach talked about with the team's specialists, each position coach followed with a brief introduction of the players they mentor.

The introductions included presentation of Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl championship rings to each player.

The Mayor Speaks Commodore Football...

by Leathers - Nashville mayor Karl Dean has the podium prior to the introduction of the 2008 Commodore squad and announcement of team awards.

Our mayor happens to be a big Commodore fan, talking about his ties to the university, ties that date back to the early 1980s as a Vanderbilt law student.

"I spent a lot of time this fall talking about this football team," Dean said. "I talked about how Vanderbilt was 2-0, 3-0, 4-0 and so on. I talked about ESPN GameDay coming to campus.

"We are very proud of this team for its accomplishments, everything that it accomplished. On behalf of this city, I say thank you for what you did this year. It meant a great deal to this city. It was a good story that highlights everything that is good about our city," the mayor added in his welcome remarks.

Vice Chancellor David Williams followed the mayor, saying "one of the smartest things we ever did was hire Bobby Johnson to coach this football team."

Williams spoke about one of his recent trips on Southwest Airlines, where he talked of meeting a recruit's dad. "He said, 'you need to know the top people in the (recruiting process) was Bobby Johnson and the Vanderbilt staff,'" the vice chancellor said.

"To the young men on the football team, thank you for coming here and deciding to accept this great challenge. I want to say thank you to the parents for entrusting your sons with us. I want to thank the fans. And lastly, thank you to Bobby and the staff, for doing it the right way."

Live from the Football Banquet & Bowl Celebration

by Leathers - Hello to all. We're at the Cool Springs Embassy Suite, among a capacity crowd of some 600 people to enjoy the 2008 Vanderbilt Football Awards Banquet and Bowl Celebration (even if we're in the third month of 2009).

We'll try to give you the latest in award winners from the Music City Bowl champion Commodores.

Just saw Coach Johnson walk by, emcee Kevin Ingram from 104.5 and a horde of players, so we're on the show. Back when time permits...

Sunday Baseball starting lineup vs. Auburn.

by SID - The sun is trying to come out on a cool and windy day in Auburn.

Cloudy at 56 degrees. Winds from the WSW at 18 mph.

The Commodores will use the same starting lineup as the last two days and will look for Nick Christiani (3-0, 4.78 ERA) to get off to a good start on the mound.

1. Brian Harris SS
2. Riley Reynolds 2B
3. Steven Liddle CF
4. Curt Casali 1B
5. Aaron Westlake DH
6. Andrew Giobbi RF
7. Joe Loftus LF
8. Jason Esposito 3B
9. Drew Fann C
SP: Nick Christiani - RHP (3-0, 4.78 ERA)

Auburn's starter on the mound is Taylor Thompson, a junior right-hander with a 1-1 record and 8.38 ERA. He has 11 strikeouts and 5 walks in 9.2 innings. His last start came against Charleston Southern on March 18. He allowed just one run on three hits in five innings with six strikeouts and a walk. The Dores have had some success against him in the past, scoring three runs in an inning of relief work last season while also touching him for four runs on eight hits in a 4.1 inning start two years ago in Auburn.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Vanderbilt falls to Maryland in Sweet 16

RALEIGH, N.C. - Vanderbilt's season came to an end Saturday after the Commodores lost a heartbreaker to No. 1 seed Maryland, 78-74, in the NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinals at the RBC Center. Log on to VUcommodores.com later tonight for complete coverage.

Halftime: Vanderbilt 39, Maryland 36

RALEIGH, N.C. - Vanderbilt heads into the locker room up 39-36 over top-seeded Maryland in the NCAA Regional Semifinals.

Vanderbilt was red hot from the outset and built an 18-point lead after Merideth Marsh drilled a 3-pointer with 6:28 left. But foul trouble hurt the 'Dores as three starters collected two apiece (Risper, Rhoads, and Wirth). Maryland took advantage and made a run of its own, outscoring the 'Dores 18-4 to close the half.

Marissa Coleman led all scorers with 19 points. Christina Wirth topped Vanderbilt with 12 points.

Follow the second half here.

In Progress

Follow the Commodores' NCAA Tournament game against Maryland on Twitter - Click Here.

And while the Terrapins' band is playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I thought I'd let you know that Louisville ended up defeating Baylor, 56-39, to advance to their first ever Elite Eight.

Familiar faces

by Barca Blog - I just ran into former Commodores Dee Davis and Ashley Earley, who made the trip from Nashville to watch today's NCAA Regional Semifinal game against Maryland. Davis (2004-07) is currently the women's basketball varsity coach at University School of Nashville and plans to try out again this summer for the WNBA. Earley (2002-05) is an assistant head coach right down the road at Tennessee Tech.

Vanderbilt baseball Saturday starting lineup vs. Auburn

by SID - It is an overcast day in Auburn after rain saturated the area overnight. The field here is in excellent shape and drains very well. With a turf management major here, there are several knowledgeable folks and students who work on it daily.

Overcast at 61 degrees with 94% humidity. Winds from the SSE at 11 mph gusting to 19 mph.

Anyway enough on the weather, Coach Corbin has decided not to mess with success and is using the exact same starting lineup as last night. Right-hander Caleb Cotham (3-2, 3.90 ERA) will be looking for his first win in SEC play after starting the year with a 3-0 record and a 1.29 ERA in his first three starts. In his two starts against Ole Miss and Kentucky he is 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA.

1. Brian Harris SS
2. Riley Reynolds 2B
3. Steven Liddle CF
4. Curt Casali 1B
5. Aaron Westlake DH
6. Andrew Giobbi RF
7. Joe Loftus LF
8. Jason Esposito 3B
9. Drew Fann C
SP: Caleb Cotham - RHP (3-2, 3.90 ERA)

Auburn's starter on the mound is Jon Luke Picard (really Jacobs, just a shout out to Star Trek fans), a red shirt freshman right-hander with a 2-0 record and 4.97 ERA. He has 24 strikeouts and 11 walks in 25.1 innings. He has given up four runs in his two five inning starts in SEC play against Tennessee (3/15) and Arkansas (3/21).

Back in the RBC

by Barca Blog - The Commodores have made it to the RBC and tipoff with the Terps is less than an hour away on ESPN. When we arrived, the game between No. 2 seed Baylor and No. 3 seed Louisville was already in progress, so the team watched a little bit of the action before returning to the locker room.

As I type, Louisville leads 49-37 with 3:04 remaining. The winner of that game will face the winner of our game in the Regional Finals Monday night at 6 p.m. CT. Follow the rest of the Louisville/Baylor here.

Baseball update from Auburn

by SID - Storms and overcast skies have saturated the area and the skies have yet to clear in Auburn. The radar shows that the sun will eventually come out, but we have yet to see it. Could be a soggy day at the park. One thing for sure, both teams definitely want to play today to avoid the doubleheader on Sunday.

Most coaches in college baseball are traditionalists and prefer nine-inning contests rather than the seven-inning games played on Sundays. Doubleheaders are also tough on the players and teams to try and sweep.


by Barca Blog - The Vanderbilt women's basketball team will take on top-seeded Maryland in the NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinals Saturday afternoon at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. VUcommodores.com has all the links you need to follow the game online.

TIME: 1:30 p.m. CT; TV: ESPN; Radio: 560 AM
ESPN360 Webcast
Live Audio
Live Stats
Game Notes
Follow VandyWBB on Twitter

A couple of notes as I work in my hotel room while Imagine: John Lennon is on the tube. After a long day of practice and interviews (and more practice) yesterday, the team went to see Monsters vs. Aliens: An IMAX 3D Experience last night. I have no report from this event since I was busy updating the website for the entire universe (haha) ... With their Regional Semifinal matchup with [1] Maryland less than five hours away, [4] Vanderbilt is currently over at the RBC Center for their morning shootaround. The winner of today's game will face the winner of [3] Louisville and [2] Baylor, which is scheduled to tipoff first at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN.

Video interview with Jence Rhoads

by Barca Blog - Visit VUcommodores.com to watch Charlie Mattos' pregame interview with guard Jence Rhoads as Vanderbilt prepares for today's matchup with Maryland in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

Rhoads has had a successful sophomore campaign for the Commodores, increasing her scoring average from 3.8 to 6.1. Rhoads ranks third in the NCAA in assist to turnover ratio at 2.5:1. It's not surprising that the 5'11 guard leads VU with 129 assists, but she also stands second in blocks with 12. In her last outing against Kansas State on Monday, she tied a season-high with seven rebounds.

One side note.. did you know Jence was a standout soccer player at Slippery Rock High School and scored more than 100 goals in her four-year career? So how did her soccer success translate over to the hardwood?

"Soccer helped me with my footwork and endurance. I played soccer my whole life and it was definitely to my advantage. I kind of miss it a little bit but basketball is my first love."

I think we would all agree that we're glad she decided to play hoops instead.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Different is good?

by Barca Blog - So what kind of difference does a year make when Vanderbilt and Maryland square off for the second consecutive season in the Sweet Sixteen? The topic was addressed by both teams during Friday's media day.

Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb: "I did watch last year's game a few times and I am sure they (Maryland) have as well. We are very different. I think they are very different as well. They had two great players in the post that really hurt us. Now Toliver and Coleman are dominating this team and are much improved on the perimeter. They have new looks inside and a new supporting cast. Losing Hannah (Tuomi) changed us quickly, made us a different player than we were last year. We don't have the inside presence that we had so we are more guard oriented."

Christina Wirth: "Over the past year I have replayed it a few times. I haven't actually watched it but I have a pretty good memory and can remember some of the plays and how the game started. They're a good team, but at the same time, they are a very different Maryland team and we are a very different team as well and that presents much different matchups. I'm sure our coaches have watched it and hit the high points for us, but more than anything I am excited about this game and not focused on last year."

Maryland head coach Brenda Frese: "You always go back and look on film to see how the game unfolded. But we're a different team and so is Vanderbilt. You always want to, at this time of year, go through as much film as possible."

Kristi Toliver: "They're very similar, but their post presence isn't nearly as strong as it was last year. They're smaller but they run the same stuff and the same style. It's all about playing smart, taking care of the ball, and running through the motions. It'll be a similar game plan, but hopefully we'll be able to execute it like we did last year."

And since "different" is the theme, it's time for the video of the day. Check out this clip from one of my favorite shows as a youngster. A couple of notes... (1) Did you know Shavar Ross (Dudley) also played T.C.'s son on Magnum, P.I.? (2) The laugh track should be banished from all sitcoms and (3) Gary Coleman was 32 when this episode was filmed (just kidding).

More articles...

by Barca Blog - Here are three more articles about tomorrow's game that have come across the wire in the last few hours.

ESPN.com - Mechelle Voepel checks in with the story lines of the four teams in the Raleigh Region... Dynamic Duos

Associated Press - Top-seeded Maryland may be on a roll (winners of 14 straight), but the Terrapins will run into a team just as hot.

The New York Times - Vanderbilt is the SEC's final hope - Read Why

More photos from shootaround

by Barca Blog - Here's a collection of pictures that I took during the today's press conference and one-hour shootaround. Enjoy!

AP photos from shootaround

by Barca Blog - Here are some AP photos from today's shootaround at the RBC Center in Raleigh -- Click Here. I'll post some of my pics in the blog in a few minutes.

Vanderbilt baseball Friday starting lineups

by SID - The skies have cleared a bit at Plainsman Park in Auburn and we should get this game going on time. The big news in tonight's lineup is the return of Andrew Giobbi. He returns to the starting lineup exactly a month after breaking his hand against Vermont on Feb. 27. The Portland, Maine, product will make his first career start in right field for the Dores.

Overcast at 64 degrees with 85% humidity.

1. Brian Harris SS
2. Riley Reynolds 2B
3. Steven Liddle CF
4. Curt Casali 1B
5. Aaron Westlake DH
6. Andrew Giobbi RF
7. Joe Loftus LF
8. Jason Esposito 3B
9. Drew Fann C
SP: Mike Minor - LHP (1-2, 3.41 ERA)

Last weekend the Dores had trouble with the lefthanded duo of James Paxton and Chris Rusin. Tonight's starter is Grant Dayton, a sophomore southpaw with a 2-2 record and 2.67 ERA. He has 34 strikeouts and nine walks in 33.2 innings. Should be a good matchup against Mike Minor in what could turn out to be a pitcher's duel.

McGugin's Biggest Loser Contest Breeds Real Competition

In McGugin, the Student-Athletes Aren't the Only Competitors
Now that things are tight in the McGugin's Biggest Loser contest, it has been interesting to sit back and reflect on just how competitive the Vanderbilt athletics staff has been over the past nine weeks.
The last weigh-in will be on Tuesday afternoon when everyone will have a chance to unwind from the notion that the women's basketball team is in the Final Four. Getting back to my original point though, competition is alive and well among the McGugin Athletics staff. Everything from the subterfuge of bringing in sweets for everyone on the opposite team to the constant questions about just how Brett Wulke continues life as the Incredible Shrinking Man. I have even seen long-term promises to algebra teachers broken ("I don't ever intend to use algebra again in my life!"), as several competitors utilize word problems to find out how much weight they need to drop by Monday to bring the team total up.

Jessica Siegel's divulging of her secret of consuming only chicken and lettuce to get into the individual prize (iPod Shuffle, thanks Coca Cola!) hunt, is another example. There has been an increase in the amount of recipes for cutting calories talked about in the hallways. I personally had an incident where I mapped out on a dry erase board my "Unintentional Workout" with Rebecca Kelley which involves parking in the far part of Opry Mills' parking lot, being dragged around one full circle of Opry Mills by my wife and then walking over to the Opryland Hotel for a leisurely walk around the entire gardens inside. It shaves off 480 calories, but stay away from the hallways where the rooms are, as it can remind you of those two creepy twin girls in The Shining.
Now for an update on the stats and the leaderboards.
Team Gold is holding it's smallest margin of a lead since Week 2. Overall they have lost 113 lbs which is 2.9259% of their original team weight of 3,862 lbs. Team Black has been steadily chipping away at the Gold lead and has now lost a total team amount of 117 lbs of their original team weight of 4,206 lbs. Team Black's percentage is 2.7817% going into the weekend.

On the individual side, here are the top 6 percentages in each category:

Male: Brett Wulke (13.4408%) - Gold (Operations)
Jason Silvers (10.7438%) - Black (Marketing)
Eric Jones (8.9005%) - Black (Ticket Office)
Greg Allen (7.2072%) - Gold (Women's Golf Coach)
George Midgett (5.0925%) - Black (Compliance)
Tim House (5.0541%) - Black (Marketing)

Female: Lindsay Rutledge (5.4054%) - Black (National Commodore Club)
Beth Turner (5.2910%) - Gold (Athletic Business Office)
Patricia Marett (4.4303%) - Black (Athletic Administration)
Shanika Douglass (4.1322%) - Gold (Athletics Business Office)
Candice Lee (3.6697%) - Gold (Compliance/Athletic Administration)
Jessica Siegel (3.6144%) - Gold (Ticket Office)

Team Gold: Brett Wulke (13.4408%)
Greg Allen (7.2072%) - Operations
Beth Turner (5.2910%) - Athletic Business Office
Brandon Barca (4.2918%) - Web Marketing and Communication-
Shanika Douglass (4.1322%) - Athletic Business Office
Candice Lee (3.6697%) - Compliance and Athletic Administration

Team Black: Jason Silvers (10.7438%) - Marketing
Eric Jones (8.9005%) - Ticket Office
Lindsay Rutledge (5.4054%) - National Commodore Club
George Midgett (5.0925%) - Compliance
Tim House (5.0541%) - Marketing
Patricia Marett (4.4303%) - Athletic Administration
Regardless of who wins, it has been fun to see everyone's competitive side. My thanks go out to Glaceau and Coca Cola who are donating prizes including Smartwater and Coke Zero. Black or Gold, whoever wins it's all Vanderbilt.

Back to the hotel...

by Barca Blog - The Commodores just finished their shootaround at RBC, so we're headed back to the hotel. Maryland head coach Brenda Frese and her Lady Terrapins (pictured) took the court once our practice concluded. Stay with us later tonight for more updates!

"It's great to have you with us"

by Barca Blog - Expect to hear this blog title to open tomorrow's telecast... since it's one of Mike Patrick's trademark phrases. And yes, that means Patrick is in the RBC! He'll be doing the ESPN broadcast tomorrow with Doris Burke and Holly Rowe.

Any time we're on the tube, our women's basketball communications director Chris Weinman meets with the on-air talents to discuss talking points for the game. Of course, I had to put a picture of Weinman in the blog (for mom!). I mean, it's tradition. I do this once every road trip, so now I can check that off my to do list (check).

RBC'n it

by Barca Blog - After a morning practice at Cardinal Gibbons High School, the team journeyed across the street to get their first feel for the RBC Center,the site for tomorrow's Sweet 16 game.

Of course, press interviews were first.. Mechelle Voepel from ESPN.com was in the house as well as a writer from The New York Times (didn't catch her name though). We'll have a complete reaction from media day later this evening.

I'll leave you with a picture from RBC as the team took the floor for the one-hour shootaround (click the image to make it bigger). Stay with us for updates.

Practice makes perfect

By Weinman - With only an hour to practice at the RBC Center on Friday, Vanderbilt used the gym at neighboring Cardinal Gibbons High School to get a little extra work in. Traveling from Albuquerque to Nashville and then here to Raleigh, the Commodores only had one day of practice at Memorial Gym this week (Wednesday).

The Sweet 16 gets under way in 24 hours from now when Baylor and Louisville face off on ESPN. The Vanderbilt-Maryland game will follow that contest 30 minutes after its completion.

Friday morning articles

by Barca Blog - Here are today's news stories on the Commodores as they prepare for Saturday's Sweet 16 matchup with No. 1 seed Maryland.

First, did you know that for the first time in the history of the NCAA tournament, the SEC is down to one team after the first weekend of play. Read More (It should also be noted that Maryland is the only ACC team left as well)

We posted a blog about the 'Dores leaving Nashville yesterday en route to Raleigh. The Washington Post documented the Terrapins departure from College Park.
Read More

David Boclair of The City Paper catches up with junior guard Lauren Lueders, who was one of several Commodores to have an outstanding game off the bench in the win over the Wildcats. Read More

David Rutz of the Vanderbilt Hustler gives us more grudge match talk. Read More

Nick Gallo of the Vanderbilt Hustler reports that VU's seniors are playing with some urgency. Read More

Andrew Borders has a special piece in The Times of Trenton on two Hightstown alums (Melanie Balcomb and Vicky Picott). Read More

Finally, Lady Terps' freshman Yemi Oyefuwa learns what the Big Dance is all about. Read More

Happy, Happy

by Barca Blog - And Merideth wasn't the only one with a birthday... Hannah Tuomi's 20th birthday is on Friday, so the team decided to surprise her with a dessert as well.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Joy, Joy

by Barca Blog - After landing in Raleigh, we got back on the bus and headed to a team dinner at Casa Carbone Ristorante. I think this ride was longer than the plane flight as we ended up taking at least three wrong turns while battling another rain storm.

Once we arrived, we were treated to a delicious Italian meal (a big thanks to the House family!). I decided to order the always reliable Chicken Parmigiana (I know, predictable)... and it didn't disappoint. Following the meal, Merideth Marsh (left) was surprised with a sundae in celebration of her 21st birthday.

Safe and...

by Barca Blog - It was a bumpy and rainy hour and a half flight into Raleigh. We hit some turbulence along the way creating some ooohs and ahhhhs among the passengers.. but we still made it safe and sound! I did enjoy the XM radio that was wired into my seat and deny (I said deny) ever listening to the Oprah and Friends channel. I guess Oprah truly is taking over by land, air and sea.

Back on the road...

by Barca Blog - It seems like only yesterday that we were returning from the Commodores' NCAA second round victory over Kansas State in Albuquerque. Yet here we are again, getting back on the bus to head to our next destination... The Sweet 16 in Raleigh, N.C. The team was greeted by a crowd full of Commodore fans and staff before departing for Nashville International Airport this evening. And yes, everyone is responsible for loading their own luggage... even the pictured First Team All-SEC performer.

Nashville Mayor Dean to Speak at Football Awards Banquet Sunday

by Leathers - Nashville Mayor Karl Dean will speak at the Vanderbilt Football Awards Banquet and Bowl Celebration, scheduled Sunday afternoon in Cool Springs.

Dean, a former Adjunct Professor of Law at Vanderbilt before becoming mayor-elect of Nashville last September, will provide opening remarks at the affair which is expected to draw nearly 600 people to the Cool Springs Embassy Suites.

The honorable mayor has strong ties to the university. Besides his tenure as an adjunct professor, Dean completed his law degree here in 1982. His wife, Anne Davis, also serves as a Vanderbilt law professor. They met as Vanderbilt law students.

The banquet, which starts at 1:00 p.m., will include an introduction of the 2008 Commodores by Bobby Johnson and the coaching staff, Most Valuable Player award presentations, highlight videos, and a special celebration of the team's 16-14 victory over Boston College at the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, staged Dec. 31 at LP Field.

We'll also be blogging from the event.

Coach Johnson on 104.5 Friday; Fun Weekend Ahead

by Leathers - Coach Johnson will appear on 104.5-FM Friday morning to discuss the Commodores' spring drills and the team's featured Black & Gold Scrimmage scheduled Saturday morning.

Johnson will talk with "Wake Up Zone" co-hosts Kevin Ingram (who, of course, doubles as your Commodore sideline reporter on gameday), Frank Wycheck and Mark Howard. The 104.5 interview starts at 7:30 a.m. CT and fans can listen live online.

The Black & Gold Scrimmage starts Saturday at 10:30 a.m., in Vanderbilt Stadium. With exterior construction well underway at the stadium, Commodore fans are asked to use Gate 3 at the entrance of Hawkins Baseball Field for access to the scrimmage. It's free to all Commodore followers.

Maryland's hungry...

by Barca Blog - Not really sure what to think about this article in the Washington Post (really not sure) on the Terrapins' motto... so you can decide. Thanks to AB for giving me the link.

Revenge factor

by Barca Blog - With NCAA media day less than 24 hours away, I'm sure the main topic at tomorrow's press conference in Raleigh will deal with the Commodores looking to avenge last season's Sweet Sixteen loss to Maryland.

Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb addressed the topic during an interview yesterday on The Thom Abraham Show on WNSR 560 AM.

“Any time you’re a competitor and you lose to somebody, you want to play them again and get it back. We do want to play them and do want another shot at them and we want to do things differently."

One of those "things" will be to not let Maryland get out to another quick start. In last year's 80-66 loss to the Terrapins, Vanderbilt fell behind 11-2 to start the game and trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half.

"We need to come out ready to play," Balcomb added. "We came out very flat and hesitant against them, and then we played them even the rest of the game but we lost.”


by Barca Blog - ESPN.com's Graham Hayes and Mechelle Voepel are both predicting Maryland to defeat Vanderbilt Saturday in Raleigh, N.C. Here's a link to the rest of their Sweet 16 picks and feel free to comment below.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bowlers make NCAAs - Photo 2

by Barca Blog - Here's one more pic.... the team posed for a quick photo after the announcement. Local television and print media in attendance included Fox 17 News, WSMV Channel 4, and The City Paper.

One other tidbit -- Vanderbilt's Associate Director of Athletics Brian Reese, who serves as the Chairman of the NCAA Bowling Committee, was interviewed on the selection show.

Bowlers make NCAAs - Photo 1

by Barca Blog - It's official... the top-ranked women's bowling team is one of eight teams chosen for the 2009 NCAA Championships scheduled for April 9-11 in Detroit, Mich.

“We’re excited,” said senior Karen Grygiel, an NCAA Tournament veteran. “It is always a great experience to compete against the best of the best and we are looking forward to it.”

The team gathered in McGugin with staff and fans to watch the selection show, which was webcast online for the first time ever. Click here to read more.

Watch NCAA Bowling Selection Show

by Barca Blog - Find out which teams will make the 2009 NCAA Women's Bowling Championships by watching a live webcast of the official selection show today at 4 p.m. CT.

Winners of a record five tournaments during the regular season, the No. 1 Commodores should be a lock to make their fourth consecutive NCAA Championship. Vanderbilt fell just short in the postseason last year, losing 4-3 in the semifinals to eventual champion Maryland-Eastern Shore. VU did win the first NCAA team title in school history in 2007.

The 2009 tournament will be held April 9-11 in Detroit, Mich.

Wright State tops No. 1 Georgia before visit to Nashville

by Barca Blog - Vanderbilt Baseball will host Wright State tonight at 6 p.m. CT at Hawkins Field. The Raiders (10-12) come to town fresh off 'arguably the biggest win in program history' after toppling No. 1 Georgia 8-5 Tuesday in Athens. The Commodores will have to bring their 'A' game and can't afford to "sleep walk for five innings" like UGA head coach Dave Perno said of his club yesterday.

Vanderbilt (15-8) will try to extend its winning streak to three after rallying back to beat Austin Peay 10-5 Tuesday. Walkup tickets are still available... for more information call 615.322.GOLD or click here.

Balcomb on 560 AM at 12:20 p.m. CT

by Barca Blog - Commodore fans can catch women's basketball head coach Melanie Balcomb on The Thom Abraham Show on WNSR 560 AM today at 12:20 p.m. CT. If you don't live in the Nashville are, you can listen to the segment live online.

Maryland game time set

Mark your calendars.... Saturday's Sweet 16 matchup with No. 1 seed Maryland is scheduled to tipoff at 1:30 p.m. CT on ESPN. Stay with us for official coverage from Raleigh, N.C., later in the week!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Maryland it is

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- With help from their Maryland teammates and a spirited crowd, Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver enthusiastically celebrated one final victory on their home court.

Coleman had 18 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, Toliver scored 17, and top-seed Maryland advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament with a 71-56 victory over Utah on Tuesday night.

The Terrapins (30-4) will next play Vanderbilt (26-8) in the semifinals of the Raleigh Regional Saturday at the RBC Center (time TBA). Order your tickets online. Maryland beat the Commodores 80-66 last year in the NCAA third round in Spokane, Wash.

More media

by Barca Blog - Just a short time ago, Nashville's four local news stations got their first chance to talk with the Commodores following yesterday's second round win over Kansas State. Jennifer Risper (front) and Christina Wirth (back) were kind enough to make the trip to Memorial Gym to answer a variety of questionS, especially since it's there off day (plus the team didn't get back from Albuquerque until 3 a.m. and still went to class in the morning). All in a day's work!

Oh, and Vanderbilt will know who their next tournament opponent will be before the end of the night. No. 1 seed Maryland will host No. 9 seed Utah at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com. To read a game preview, click here.

Are you following Corbin on Twitter?

by Barca Blog - If not, then you missed his tweet from earlier this morning:

"Andrew Giobbi (broken hand) got some good news yesterday - the doctor said that he can start swinging the bat again - happy for Gio"

It's not too late to follow coach. Click here to get his updates online. You can even sync it up with your phone so you get the messages texted directly to you. Don't you just love technology?

If you'd like to keep track of more Commodore sports news and score updates (as well as my blog) on Twitter, go here.

The great debate

by Barca Blog - Should Tampa Bay phenom David Price start the season in the minors? ESPN.com's Jayson Stark digs deep into the question... and it's definitely a good read. Thanks to SF for emailing me this article.

Soccer signee integral part of No. 1 team

by SID - The Kingswood Lady Mustangs are currently ranked the No. 1 high school soccer team in the country according to ESPNrush.com.

One of Vanderbilt's soccer signees, Amanda Essay, is one of the senior leaders on the team that is 25-0-2. They have been dominating opponents thus far, with 20 shutouts in 27 games. The team is looking to make a run at a state championship.

Click here for more info on the Mustangs.

Postgame photos 3

by Barca Blog - Monday's win over Kansas State was the total team effort. So, here's a picture of the squad in the locker room after the game.

For three-quarters of the night, the game went back and forth as we sat on the edge of our seats, but in the end, the Commodores simply wanted it more.

"I felt like in the second half we started to wear them down," head coach Melanie Balcomb said, "and got in transition as much as we could. I think that made a big difference down the stretch. I think our kids rebounded better, defended better and took the three point shot away. Everybody stepped up in different ways."

Next stop: Sweet Sixteen in Raleigh!

Postgame photos 2

by Barca Blog - Here's a photo of senior Jennifer Risper with family members outside The Pit last night.

No doubt about it, Risper and fellow senior Christina Wirth played like they didn't want their Commodore careers to end Monday night. During the postgame press conference, Kansas State senior forward Marlies Gipson complimented Risper's passion for the game.

"Risper is just a great player," Gipson said of Risper, who had a career night with 27 points, five rebounds and three steals. "Her heart is so big and her will to play the game is so big. She's a great player."

Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb also reflected on the importance of having players like Risper and Wirth in the program.

"These are two players that I can't say enough about," remarked Balcomb. "I don't know if I have ever had any players that work as hard as they do every single day, but its for the team, its not for themselves and its just a pleasure to coach kids like that. It's never been about them and in turn good things are happening to them. It's a great lesson to learn."

Postgame photos

by Barca Blog - The next few posts (above) will be some photos I took after Vanderbilt outlasted Kansas State in the NCAA Second Round last night in Albuquerque. By the way, our bus didn't arrive at McGugin until 3 a.m. CT, so that's why I'm just getting around to this!

When players, coaches (and even staff) walked out of the arena, a chorus of cheers came from family members and fans each time the exit door opened. It was kind of fun just waiting to see who would pop out of the door next... and how that person would react to the ovation. I also have to say it was really classy when this same Commodore crowd applauded Kansas State's team on their way out. Just a good gesture of sportsmanship.

The above photo is of senior Christina Wirth with her family. Wirth had another lights out performance at The Pit, finishing with 24 points and seven rebounds.

Kansas State video highlights

Watch free video highlights of Vanderbilt's 74-61 victory over Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament courtesy of CBS College Sports.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vanderbilt advances to the Sweet 16

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The No. 4 seed Vanderbilt Commodores advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament Monday night after defeating No. 5 seed Kansas State 74-61. Jennifer Risper netted 27 points for Vanderbilt, and Christina Wirth tallied 24. For complete postgame coverage, click here.

Halftime: Kansas State 38, Vanderbilt 37

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Kansas State goes into the locker room with a 38-37 lead in NCAA Tournament Second Round action Monday night at The Pit. It has been a title fight from the outset with each team taking the other's best punch.

The Wildcats used a balanced attacked on the offensive end and shot 60 percent from the field. Forwards Ashley Sweat and Marlies Gipson had success in the post, leading Kansas State with 12 and 10 points respectively. The Wildcats also converted from long range, hitting 5-for-6 from behind the arc. KSU capitalized off VU's six turnovers, turning the miscues into 13 points.

Christina Wirth (16) and Jennifer Risper (15) countered for the Commodores, scoring 31 of Vanderbilt's 37 points. Jessica Mooney had a nice half as well with three assists, two rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 17 minutes. Mooney spent much of the half guarding KSU standout Shalee Lehning and kept her in check. Lehning has four turnovers, four points and two assists. The 'Dores also took advantage of second chance points with 10.

Follow the second half action by clicking here. You won't want to miss this finish.

Are you ready?

It's do or die time at The Pit.

We're less than 20 minutes away from NCAA second round action as No. 4 seed Vanderbilt faces No. 5 seed Kansas State... and as De La Soul once sang -- stakes is high!

"We’ve got one win under our belt, but that doesn't matter at this point," said junior Merideth Marsh. "We’ve got to fight hard and play a whole lot better than we did against Western Carolina in order to advance to the next round. Our best basketball is still ahead of us. We could potentially have one game left so we just have to lay it all on the line."

All the info you need to track the game can be found by clicking here.

Shake it off

by Barca Blog - It’s safe to say that Merideth Marsh didn’t have her best game in Saturday’s NCAA Tournament opener. The second-team All-SEC guard finished with more turnovers (3) than points (2) in the Commodores’ 73-44 victory over Western Carolina.

Even more surprising was that Marsh missed two free throws to open the second half, ending a streak of 25 conversions in a row. She came into the game shooting at a 93.5% clip from the line.

“I wasn’t hitting my shots and things weren’t going my way,” Marsh remarked, “but as I get further on down the stretch, I’m going to do the things that the team needs me to do. The coaches kept reminded me that I’m in there to be a leader and to play solid defense and the offense will come.”

Marsh, who led the SEC in three-point shooting, understands that you can’t get caught up in one subpar night. She shrugged off a 3-for-15 performance in last year’s NCAA opener against Montana by contributing nine points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals against West Virginia to help the Commodores advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I can’t be as hard on myself,” Marsh said. “If I make a mistake, I just have to shake it off quickly and I can’t wear my emotions on my sleeve.”

Marsh will get back on the court tonight for the 'Dores showdown with No. 5 seed Kansas State. And Balcomb knows that Marsh's value looms larger than just the numbers you see on the stat sheet.

“I can't take Merideth off the court," Balcomb told the press after Saturday's win, "and that's what I talked to her about was her leadership skills. She's like having another coach on the floor, she defends very smart, very well. So, I thought she let the game come to her and she didn't try to force things and hopefully we'll get her some better looks next game."

Week 5 Vanderbilt Baseball Notebook

Record Overall: 14-8; Record for the Week: 3-2

Last Week:

3/17 Vanderbilt 7, South Alabama 4 at Hawkins Field
3/18 Vanderbilt 11, Belmont 4 at Hawkins Field
3/20 Kentucky 3, Vanderbilt 1 at Lexington, Ky.
3/21 Kentucky 6, Vanderbilt 2 at Lexington, Ky.
3/22 Vanderbilt 4, Kentucky 2 at Lexington, Ky.

This Week:
3/24 vs. Austin Peay 6 p.m. at Hawkins Field
3/25 vs. Wright State 6 p.m. at Hawkins Field
3/27 at Auburn 6 p.m. at Auburn, Ala.
3/28 at Auburn 3 p.m. at Auburn, Ala.
3/29 at Auburn 1 p.m. at Auburn, Ala.

Vanderbilt went 3-2 on the week, winning a pair of midweek games against South Alabama and Belmont, while losing two of three at Kentucky over the weekend … The Commodores 2-4 start in SEC play is the worst since the 2003 squad went 2-4 in Tim Corbin’s first season in Nashville … The team posted a .259 batting average in five games with nine doubles and 25 runs scored. The pitching staff had a strong week with a 3.35 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 17 walks in 43.0 innings.

Freshman second baseman Riley Reynolds.was one of the bright spots offensively going 6-for-13 (.462) on the week with two doubles, a triple, one RBI and three runs scored. He also walked four times and was hit by a pitch for a .611 on base percentage … Fellow freshman Jason Esposito went 7-for-21 (.333) with two doubles and three runs scored. He also stole two bases and is 10-for-11 now on the year.

Chase Reid extended his scoreless innings pitched streak to 10.1 innings over four appearances. He made two appearances on the week and held batters to just three hits in 5.1 innings of work with seven strikeouts and no walks. His ERA has lowered from 54.00 to 2.87 … Also on a scoreless streak in relief is Drew Hayes who hasn’t allowed a run in 9.2 innings over five appearances. He has recorded 11 strikeouts and four walks in that time while lowering his ERA from 9.00 to 2.92 … Sonny Gray pitched 3.0 innings of three-hit shutout relief against Kentucky in Sunday’s win. He struck out two and walked two in earning his team leading third save of the year. Gray currently leads the team with a 0.64 ERA over eight appearances … Nick Christiani earned the win on Sunday over UK, scattering seven hits over six innings of work with five strikeouts and two walks. He allowed two runs and moved to 3-0 on the year with the win and is 17-10 in his career.

The Commodores handed Kentucky its first home loss of the season on Sunday (11-1) … Steven Liddle’s 15-game hitting streak ended in Friday’s loss to the Wildcats. He rebounded on Sunday by hitting his first SEC homer in the 4-2 win … Drew Fann made his first collegiate start at catcher against Belmont, then started in all three games over the weekend … Tuesday’s game against Austin Peay has been moved from a 4 p.m. start to a 6 p.m. start.

Tuesday's baseball game time changed

The start time for Tuesday's home baseball game against Austin Peay has been pushed back to 6 p.m. CT. The game was originally slated for 4 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be ordered online or by calling (615) 322-GOLD.

How to buy NCAA photos

by Barca Blog - Vanderbilt fans can immediately purchase framed images of NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament games through its partner, Replay Photos, which is operating the NCAA Photo Store for all Championships. Replay Photos is working with AP Images so that it can immediately post images from the tournament as they come in to the AP's editorial desk.

Games appear as soon as images come in starting with the practice sessions and then game action. Here are the Vanderbilt photos prior to the Kansas State game.

Shootaround, Take Two

By Weinman - We're back at The Pit for shootaround in preparation of tonight's game against Kansas State (8:45 p.m. CT, ESPN2 & 560-AM WNSR). During their stay here, the Commodores have used the men's basketball locker room at The Pit just like last year. You've surely read about the ramp system at The Pit, and the locker rooms are located in what they call the "mid-ramp" -- from there you have to take a ramp up to get to the practice facility (which is serving as the media room) and you have to take a ramp down to get to the court.

The locker room is well-appointed, with wooden lockers that include graphic name plates for each player, a flat-screen TV and plenty of space for team meetings or just hanging out. As part of the renovation of The Pit, the Lobos' lockerrooms will be moved up to the Davalos Center and the space that the Commodores currently occupy will be turned into a visiting locker room.

The Shalee Element

by Barca Blog - Just visit Kansas State’s official athletic website and you'll quickly notice a page dedicated to senior point guard Shalee Lehning. And for good reason.

The All American candidate’s resume is too long to post, but here are some of the highlights:

*She's tied for third in NCAA history with five triple-doubles

*She ranks second in Big 12 history with 796 career assists

*Despite being 5'9, she’s led KSU in rebounding three straight seasons

*She can score, too, tallying 1,179 career points

So, one of the main challenges for the Commodores in tonight's NCAA Second Round matchup will start with finding a way to slow down the Wildcats' floor general. It won’t be easy. Lehning has faced a variety of game plans during her career but opponents have had little success.

“I think the biggest challenge is penetration,” Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb said. “She can just find people and she attacks off the dribble. You don't want her to penetrate too deep and then kick out to shoot, and they have so many shooters.”

And it doesn’t end there.

“The other thing is she is really heady on defense,” added Balcomb. “I think everybody talks about her offense, but she plays off-the-ball defense and rebounds as well. She will take advantage of you defensively. Offensively for a point, she's going to crash the boards and not many other teams check out a point guard.

"On both ends of the floor, she is going to do a lot of things. Everything goes through her, and she is big in everything they do."

Drexel head coach Denise Dillon got to witness Lehning’s talent first hand Saturday night. And you can add Dillon to the list of impressed.

“She proved that over and over again why she is one of the best out on the floor,” Dillon said after Lehning tied a school record with 13 assists in the Wildcats’ 68-44 first round win over the Dragons. “In the years I have been coaching basketball and the years playing I have not seen a point guard with that much talent with the ball, knowing where every kid on the floor is. She is a special, special point guard.

So the big question is who will draw the assignment of containing Lehning Monday night?

"You'll have to wait and see I guess,” said senior Jennifer Risper. “She'll definitely be tough to guard for whoever's guarding her." (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf)

How do you watch the game?

by Barca Blog - The women's basketball team's NCAA Second Round game with Kansas State will be televised by ESPN2 tonight at 8:30 p.m. CT, but the amount of coverage you get depends on where you're located.

Click the above image to get a closer look at the viewer breakdown. If you live in the areas colored brown, you'll get to watch the Commodores' game in its entirety on the following channels -- DTV 216, FullCourt 723, Dish Channel 147, Dish FullCourt 458, AT&T 613, and AT&T FullCourt 4504.

Just like Saturday's opening round game, the majority of you will get "whip-around" coverage, which means ESPN2 will rotate between the four games in that 8:30 p.m. CT time slot. For a complete explanation with additional HD notes, click here and scroll down to the 'Dores game.

Fans can also watch the game online on EPSN360 and follow live stats and live audio at VUcommodores.com. Charlie Mattos' radio call will be broadcast on 560 AM.

Video: Wirth Interview

by Barca Blog - Visit VUcommodores.com to watch Charlie Mattos' pregame interview with senior Christina Wirth as Vanderbilt prepares for tonight's matchup with Kansas State.

We mentioned it yesterday... Wirth’s 23-point performance Saturday against Western Carolina moved her into 10th place on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list with 1,544 career points. Mattos asked her about the accomplishment after yesterday's practice.

"I didn't know that," Wirth admitted. "It's not something I try to do. I know this team looks to me to score. Anyone of us can step up on any given night. That is one of my roles on this team. I just go out there and when I'm open I like to shoot, and my teammates get me great shots. I guess in the past few games I have been scoring a little more and that's a testament to my teammates getting me open looks."

Tip off is scheduled for Monday night at 8:30 p.m. (CT) inside The Pit. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and on ESPN360.com, with Todd Harris delivering the play-by-play and Heather Cox on the analysis. Mattos' radio call can also be heard on 560 AM.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Say it aint so

by Barca Blog - More random stuff. Winnie Cooper just got married... and not to Kevin Arnold.

Of course, if you go back to the final episode of The Wonder Years (posted below), Kevin shocked us all by marrying someone other than his childhood sweetheart... but we never learned if Winnie ended up getting hitched.

Now we know.

No time to waste

by Barca Blog - During today's press conference, Melanie Balcomb elaborated on what it's like to work on a collegiate coaching staff, especially when you have less than 48 hours to prepare for the most important game of the season.

"I have a ritual that I do where I stay in my room and isolate myself and watch a lot of film. My staff will socialize a lot more than me. I don't want them to lock themselves up. They were really prepared ahead of time. They each had one of the teams in the tournament. Each one of them knew and was prepared and had already seen 12 game films on the teams we might be playing next. We got up very early this morning and meet as a staff to present it to the team.

"I am in charge of us, so I have to watch our game film and wait on the latest game film. I try to take it one game at a time. When we are on the road, I have to spend more time watching film and catching up."

Where everybody knows your name

by Barca Blog - Vanderbilt fans will see two familiar faces on the opposing bench tomorrow night when the Commodores take on Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Head coach Deb Patterson and associate head coach Kamie Ethridge both served under former Vanderbilt head coach Jim Foster. Patterson was the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 1992-96, while Ethridge was an assistant coach from 19991-96. Both were a part of the Commodores’ Final Four team in 1993 and the Elite Eight squad in 1996.

Patterson reflected on her time on West End during Sunday’s media day at The Pitt.

"That was just an unbelievably valuable time for me. I worked for Jim Foster. He is one of the great coaches in the women's game and very much of what I took forward to Kansas State and how we would play and build a program came from those days at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt and Coach Foster had the greatest impact on how I learned the game from an x and o point of view and determined we'd love to play. It was a great city, a great university, and great people."

Patterson landed the top job at Kansas State in 1996 and has flourished in the position. In 13 seasons, she stands as the all-time winningest women’s basketball coach in KSU history with a career record of 265-145 (.646).

Back to work

by Barca Blog - Even though I don't have any pictures to prove it, the Commodores are back to work in Albuquerque. The team got an up close look at their next opponent, Kansas State, during Sunday morning's film study session inside the hotel. The team then jumped on the bus for an afternoon practice at The Pit. Since the NCAA determines that it's a closed practice, I can't take any photos or the workout would be open to all press. So many rules!

After practice, the media will have their chance to ask head coach Melanie Balcomb and select players questions about tomorrow's matchup with the Wildcats. Check back with us later today for complete coverage.

Don't stop me now

by Barca Blog - Fans watching last night's 73-44 win over Western Carolina might have been worried when Jennifer Risper missed over seven consecutive minutes of the first half while being attended to by Vanderbilt's medical staff.

No worries though.

"I just got a bloody nose from the altitude probably and it's dry," Risper said with a smile. "So that is all for that but I was excited to get back in. Just an old fashioned bloody nose."

Risper checked back in at the 7:55 mark and made an impact in a hurry, scoring five points with a rebound and a steal in the next two and a half minutes to extend the 'Dores lead to six points. The Lady Catamounts didn't get any closer than that for the rest of the night.

The dependable senior finished with a solid stat line: 11 points, nine rebounds, three assists, a block, and a steal in 21 minutes. Just another blue-collar performance by the Moreno Valley, Calif., native.

I'm back ...

by Barca Blog - You might say senior forward Christina Wirth was thrilled about coming back to New Mexico for the second year in a row.

In two NCAA Tournament games at The Pit last year, Wirth combined for 34 points (12-for-19) including 7-for-11 from long range. Last night, she continued the trend, scoring a game-high 23 points (9-for-17) with three 3-pointers against Western Carolina to help the Commodores advance to the NCAA second round.

"I like Albuquerque,” Wirth told the press following Saturday’s 73-44 victory. “I got some pretty good looks and my teammates found me when I was open so I was happy to be able to knock them down.”

For much of the night, Wirth also drew the assignment of guarding the Lady Catamounts top scoring threat -- 6’4 center Brooke Johnson. She passed that challenge as well.

"I thought Tina did a really good job,” said senior Jennifer Risper. “Johnson was 3-for-11 and she is one of their go to players. I think Tina just played solid defense and challenged her shots and tried to rebound.”

It’s worth noting that Wirth’s 23-point performance moved her into 10th place on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring list with 1,544 career points. She has also scored at least 20 points in nine of her last 12 games.

Sunday Baseball Starting Lineup at UK

By Travis Young - Here is Vanderbilt's starting lineup for Sunday's game against Kentucky. Opening pitch is slated for 1:05 ET.

Weather Report: Sunny, 60 degrees. Winds from the southeast at 10 mph.

1. Brian Harris SS
2. Riley Reynolds 2B
3. Steven Liddle CF
4. Curt Casali 1B
5. Aaron Westlake DH
6. Joe Loftus LF
7. Jason Esposito 3B
8. Matt Marquis RF
9. Drew Fann C
SP: Nick Christiani (2-0, 5.31 ERA)

Kentucky's starter Alex Meyer(1-1, 5.06 ERA) is rated as the second-best freshman in college baseball by Baseball America. In his last outing, Meyer allowed two hits and three runs at third-ranked LSU. Meyer's .197 opponent batting average ranks sixth-best in the SEC.

Christiani leads the team in strikeouts with 26 in 20.1 innings of work. In Christiani's last start, he allowed five runs and three walks, scattering six hits with five strikeouts in 3.1 innings.

Track the game here on VUcommodores.com. For score updates on your mobile phone, sign up for Twitter and follow VandyBaseball.

Next up?

by Barca Blog - No. 5 seed Kansas State.... who eliminated No. 12 seed Drexel 68-44 last night at The Pit.

Similar to the Commodores' win over Western Carolina, the Wildcats (25-7) picked up the pace in the second half to pull away from their NCAA first round opponent.

"At the end of the first half the tempo wasn't good for us. We needed to be more aggressive," Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. "This group has a good basketball IQ. When they need to change the game, they can."

Forward Marlies Gipson scored a game-high 18 points, while point guard Shalee Lehning tied a school record with 13 assists.

To read the complete AP recap, click here. And to learn more about the Wildcats, visit their official site.
(AP Photo / Matt York)

Getting it done

by Barca Blog - The Associated Press reported that Vanderbilt is one of 14 women's basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament with a perfect graduation rate based on whether freshmen who entered school between the 1998-99 and 2001-02 school years earned diplomas within six years. To read more, click here.

Sweet photos

by Barca Blog - If you were stuck with ESPN2's "whip-around coverage" for the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night, you might have missed some of the sights from the Commodores' 73-44 rout of Western Carolina. So check out Gary Stepic's photo gallery on VUcommodores.com with 50+ pictures from the game - Click Here

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Montoya/Healy Evening

By Weinman - When the Commodores left for their game this afternoon, the team hotel was preparing to celebrate the Montoya/Healy wedding. Upon arrival back at the hotel after the game, the reception was in full effect, and right next to Vanderbilt's post-game meal, at that. The Commodores were invited in by the bride and immediately took to the dance floor to enjoy a few songs before calling it a night.

Of course, very best wishes to the happy couple!

Victorious Viewers from Vanderbilt

By Weinman - After winning their opening round game over Western Carolina, 73-44, the Commodores stuck around The Pit to watch the first half of the game which will determine their opponent for Monday's second round. After 20 minutes, the Kansas State Wildcats led the Drexel Dragons, 26-19. Drexel's Jasmina Rosseel was the high scorer of the first half, with 10 points.

Final: Vanderbilt 73, WCU 44

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Christina Wirth scored a game-high 23 points to lead No. 4 seed Vanderbilt to a 73-44 victory over No. 13 seed Western Carolina Saturday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament inside The Pit. Jennifer Risper added 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

The Commodores will next play the winner of No. 5 seed Kansas State and No. 12 seed Drexel on Monday night. Log on to VUcommodores.com later tonight for complete coverage including postgame reaction and photos.

Halftime: Vanderbilt 29, WCU 18

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Vanderbilt goes into the locker room with a 29-18 lead over Western Carolina in NCAA Tournament First Round action at The Pit.

Defense was the story of the first half, as the Commodores limited the Lady Catamounts to 21.2% (7-for-33) from the field. Center Brooke Johnson, WCU's top scorer coming into the contest, was held to just two points on 1-for-6 shooting.

The Commodores closed the half on an 11-2 run topped off by Lauren Lueders' 3-pointer with 1:08 left to give VU its first double-digit lead of the game. Christina Wirth led the 'Dores with nine points.

Follow the second half action here.

Looks like we made it...

(On the road with the women's basketball team in Albuquerque for the NCAA Tournament)

by Barca Blog -
The Commodores officially arrived at The Pit about 40 minutes ago. Everyone was ready to go.... except NCAA rules prohibit teams from touching a basketball for warmups more than one hour prior to tip. So the team got a feel for the sideline benches during the wait. One of the rare times in life when you get penalized for being early!

Game time is less than 30 minutes away! All the links you need to track the action can be found by clicking here. And make sure you follow VandyWBB on Twitter to get updates on your mobile phone.

You got me rockin'

(On the road with the women's basketball team in Albuquerque for the NCAA Tournament)

by Barca Blog -
On the bus trip over to The Pit, we were entertained by a montage of video clips from the SEC Championship accompanied by some dope tracks (yeah, I just said that). I'm ready for this thing to get started.

Spirit surrounds hotel

(On the road with the women's basketball team in Albuquerque for the NCAA Tournament)

by Barca Blog
- We just left the hotel and received a nice send-off from the band and spirit squads on the way to the bus. You can't tell from the picture, but the Spirit of Gold made a huge circle (to the far left) around the entrance and played some of my favorites including Dynamite and Mortal Kombat (and even heard a few notes of Turn Me Loose by Loverboy!).

Gibbs excels in expanded role

by Barca Blog - Freshman Tia Gibbs has made the most of her expanded role at the guard spot off the bench since Jennifer Risper moved to the post to fill in for the injured Hannah Tuomi.

The Louisville, Ky., native averaged 10.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 26.3 minutes per game during the SEC Tournament, compared to only 4.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 11.0 minutes per game during the regular season.

"We had to get it done without Hannah, so I wanted to help the team as much as possible," said Gibbs.

The 5'9 guard displayed her shooting range in the SEC tourney, hitting 7-for-15 from behind the arc, but also wasn't afraid to mix it up on the boards much like Tuomi.

"Rebounding has always been a personal challenge for me," Gibbs added. "When I came here, I told myself that the amount of size wasn’t going to matter and I was going to still get in there and battle with the six-footers."

Along with freshman Jordan Coleman, Gibbs will be entering a new chapter of her young playing career tonight when she suits up for her first NCAA Tournament game.

"This is the next step. We’ve been working hard since conditioning in July. We’re finally here. I don’t think I fully know how big it’s going to be, but my expectations are definitely high."

Gameday from Albuquerque!

By Weinman - It's gameday, and the Commodores had a one-hour walk-through at The Pit this morning before tonight's opener against Western Carolina. Tonight's game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:11 p.m. CT, and should be available on ESPN2 throughout Tennessee. Out of market fans will likely get coverage of all four games being shown during that time slot, which include Montana vs. Pittsburgh, San Diego State vs. DePaul and Fresno State vs. California. Our site will continue to provide up-to-the-minute coverage here and on our Twitter page.