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    February 2011 Archives

    The Final Barca Blog

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    I hate goodbyes. I don't like closure. And moving on is sometimes hard to swallow.

    But I didn't want to leave my position with Vanderbilt Athletics without thanking Commodore fans for making the last eight years of my life an incredible experience. Thank you.

    I was lucky enough to have a job that gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the Commodores--something most fans would trade for in a heartbeat. I always tried to remember that thought each day, so I documented as much as I could for you guys, especially during tournament trips.

    Nothing meant more to me than seeing a positive fan reaction to one of our initiatives. While I didn't get everything right, I fought hard to do as much as I could for you. Yes, I crashed and burned at times, but feel like there were several victories for the betterment of the program.

    The best part of my job? Working with Vanderbilt's tremendous student-athletes and interacting with passionate fans who have stood by the program even when it was tough. Your dedication is unrivaled.

    I won't be a stranger, either. I have accepted a position at Vanderbilt's Peabody College and still plan to be a regular at Commodore events to cheer on the best kids in collegiate sports. And who knows, maybe Frank the Dancin' Dog will do a reunion tour.

    If you see me, please say hello (and not goodbye).

    --------------------

    I'd like to also include some of my favorite memories -- in no particular order -- since joining athletics in the fall of 2003:

    **Victory in Knoxville. Cutler to Bennett. Everyone knows what that moment meant.

    **The 2008 football team breaking the 26-year bowl drought with a win over Boston College on a freezing night "on the banks of the Cumberland River" (as Joe Fisher called it). Grown men crying after the final whistle said it all.

    **90,000+ Georgia fans silenced in Sanford Stadium after Bryant Hahnfeldt's game-winning field goal. As I walked to the locker room, the only sound I could hear were 100 rowdy Commodores celebrating with Coach Johnson.

    **ESPN GameDay coming to Vanderbilt. What a special day it was to see the Commodore community unite in front of a national viewing audience.

    **Getting to be in the football war room the night before National Signing Day this year to see Coach Franklin and his staff seal the deal on their first recruiting class. It was such a rush; felt like a scene out of a movie.

    **Sitting in Arco Arena when Derrick Byars popped his jersey in front of the VU section after the Dores' double-overtime win against Washington State. That was an "elite" team in my opinion.

    **Watching the Commodores rally past NC State in a local sports grille. It was standing room only and everyone in the place was hugging after the miraculous comeback in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Matt Freije took over in the final minutes and Mario Moore hit Corey Smith on a backdoor pass that had us jumping up and down.

    **Shan Foster's 42-point game on senior night, a performance I'll never witness again in my lifetime. I have to watch the clip over and over again to know it really happened.

    **Being at Virginia as the baseball team captured their first ever regional championship in 2004. Hats off to Coach Corbin, D.J. and the rest of the staff for making Vanderbilt one of the top names in households across the country.

    **Waiting at Hawkins Field for an hour after the Commodores' win over LSU to find out if VU had clinched the 2007 SEC regular season championship. Several hundred fans hung around, too, just to be a part of the moment.

    **Hearing the Black and Gold chant rock Hawkins Field past midnight at the 2007 Regional with fans lined up on every floor of the 25th Avenue garage just to catch a glimpse of the action. Still gives me goose bumps.

    **More: MBB topples No. 1 Florida and their 17-game win streak; Three WBB SEC Tournament titles (Duluth trip sticks out to me); MBB's 40-point win over Kentucky (Neltner's winning); Shea Robin and Jason Cunningham star in VU's four-run rally in the bottom of the 10th in the 2007 SEC Baseball Tournament semifinals; Foster's last-second putback vs. Tennessee; Mario's 30-footer at the buzzer against Oregon; Balcomb's first victory over UT; David Price and Casey Weathers fan 22 in VU's 11-inning regional classic vs. Austin Peay; Connor Harrell steals a homer and squeezes in the winning run in Louisville Regional.

    The list could go on and on. I know I've left out a bunch of moments, but I think you get the point. I was blessed to work for the Commodores during a very special period in school history.

    If you'd like to keep in touch with me, I'll still have my Twitter account @BarcaBlog.

    I'll leave you with a few of my trademark videos of the day.

    1. Ah yes, the memories... even if cats creep me out. (no tears please)




    2. A couple of my closest friends reminisce about the good times...




    3. I wish I knew what these WWF superstars claim to know...




    4. Finally, if you're ever having a bad day, this tune will do the trick. Frank's go-to song:

    Commodores Around the Web Wednesday (Feb. 16)

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    COMMODORES AROUND THE WEB

    Men's Basketball: Commodores value Taylor's defense (Tennessean)
    "Sometimes people tend to focus on offensive productivity," Kevin Stallings said. "Just like John (Jenkins) bails us out on offense, Jeff bails us out on defense because of his athleticism and defensive tenacity. I don't think there's ever a situation where we have had to overcome him."
    Men's Basketball: Vanderbilt at Georgia game preview (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: Ezeli's effort to improve makes big difference (City Paper)
    "(Festus) is the one that has taken charge of his free throws and gotten better at those," Stallings said. "Obviously, the improvement from last year is remarkable."
    Men's Basketball: Dores travel south seeking sweep (InsideVandy)

    Men's Basketball: Jenkins on All-Underappreciated Team (SI.com)

    Men's Basketball: Fast Break with John Jenkins (SECsports.com)

    Men's Basketball: Big home game for Dogs tonight (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    Men's Basketball: Jenkins latest in long line of sharpshooters (Commercial Appeal)

    Baseball: Journal with Drew Fann (College Baseball Daily)

    Swimming: Swimmers head to SEC Championships (InsideVandy)


    VUCOMMODORES.COM NEWS

    Rod Williamson: Putting SEC Honor Roll into perspective

    Football: Franklin to Appear in Memphis Thursday

    Men's Basketball: ESPNU All-Access debuts Wednesday

    Men's Basketball: VU travels to Georgia Wednesday

    Men's Basketball: 104.5 FM interview with Kevin Stallings

    Men's Basketball: Hoops Roundup: Rankings, Bracketology

    Women's Basketball: 'Dores look for third straight road win

    Baseball: Vanderbilt picked to finish second in East

    Lacrosse: No. 11 VU hosts No. 3 UNC Wednesday

    Soccer: Signee Taylor Elliott

    Swimming: Dores to compete at SEC Championships

    Swimming: SEC Championships Blog


    VIDEOS OF THE DAY

    Men's Basketball: CBS previews Vanderbilt-Georgia game

    Men's Basketball: 'Jenkins is a flamethrower' and more





    Women's Basketball: Chantelle Anderson jersey retirement




    PHOTO OF THE DAY

    Donny Turnbaugh is blogging on his trip to the 2011 SEC Women's Swimming Championships this week.




    SONG OF THE DAY

    Paul Simon and Spud Webb would have schooled Sidney Deane and Billy Hoyle in a pickup game. Also, love the cameos by Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, John Madden, Mickey Mantle and more.

    Paul Simon "Me and Julio Down By The School Yard"




    CONNECT WITH US TODAY

    Follow the Commodores on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


    Videos: 'Jenkins is a flamethrower' and more

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    Four new videos have been posted to our VUcommodores' YouTube page including Kevin Harlan calling John Jenkins a 'flamethrower' in the Kentucky game and Brad Tinsley hitting the game winner against Alabama. Enjoy and share.

    Video: Jenkins is a flamethrower



    Video: Bradley Buckets beats Bama



    And more TV highlights from those two games...

    Video: Vanderbilt 81, Kentucky 77



    Video: Vanderbilt 81, Alabama 77

    Hoops Roundup: Rankings, Bracketology (Feb. 15)

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    (Photo by John Russell)

    VANDERBILT MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE/RESULTS  view

    Last Week
    Thursday, Feb. 10: Vanderbilt 81, Alabama 77
    Saturday, Feb. 12: Vanderbilt 81, Kentucky 77

    This Week
    Wednesday, Feb. 16: Vanderbilt at Georgia, 6 p.m. CT, TV: ESPNU
    Saturday, Feb. 19: Vanderbilt at Auburn, 3 p.m. CT, TV: SEC Network


    COMMODORES MOVE UP IN RANKINGS


    With two big conference wins last week, Vanderbilt jumped to its highest ranking of the year in both major polls.

    The Commodores (18-6, 6-4 SEC) are 18th in the Associated Press Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.

    Kentucky (No. 22) and Florida (No. 14/15) also appear in the rankings.


    BRACKETOLOGY UPDATE


    ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi moved Vanderbilt up one spot to a No. 5 seed.

    SI.com's Andy Glockner also placed VU as a No. 5 seed.

    And CBSsports.com's Jerry Palm gave the 'Dores a No. 5 seed as well.


    NEWS ON THE COMMODORES


    VUcommodores.com: ESPNU All-Access on the Commodores
    ESPNU airings: Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. CT; Friday, Feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. CT; Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. CT; and Saturday, March 5, at 5 p.m. CT.
    VUcommodores.com: VU travels to Georgia Wednesday

    VUcommodores.com: CBS video preview of VU-UGA matchup

    VUcommodores.com: 104.5 Interview with Kevin Stallings

    VUcommodores.com: Jenkins nabs 2nd SEC Player of Week

    VUcommodores.com: Replay of Kevin Stallings' Call-in Show

    Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon: Fast Break on John Jenkins

    SECsports.com: Monday teleconference with Kevin Stallings

    Andy Glockner, SI.com: Jenkins on All-Underappreciated Team


    MORE COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS

    ESPN.com: Weekly Watch Week 12
    More teams that impressed us: Vanderbilt
    "The Commodores don't like to do anything easy. In a span of three days, Vandy clipped Alabama and Kentucky at home, both coming down to the final possessions. Alabama coach Anthony Grant and Kentucky coach John Calipari looked exasperated at one point -- and that's what Memorial Magic will do to coaches."
    ESPN.com: Andy Katz's Observations from the week

    ESPN.com: Eamonn Brennan's Observations from the week

    ESPN.com: NCAA Bubble Watch
    Teams that should be in: Vanderbilt [18-6 (6-4), RPI: 15, SOS: 11]
    "After Thursday night's thrilling home win over Alabama, the Commodores' at-large chances were already looking strong. After Saturday's win over Kentucky, those chances are such that it would take a massive February collapse for Kevin Stallings' team to miss the tournament. The one thing Vanderbilt really needed was a marquee win, and as far as the RPI is concerned, it's hard to do much better than beating Kentucky. Provided the Dores don't pile up too many egregious slip-ups the rest of the way -- Saturday's game at Auburn could be particularly dangerous and damaging -- they'll have no problem getting to the Big Dance."
    SI.com: Seth Davis' Hoops Thoughts

    SI.com: Andy Glockner's Bubble Watch
    Should be in: Vanderbilt [18-6, 6-4; RPI: 17, SOS: 13]
    "The 'Dores got a hard-earned home sweep of Alabama and Kentucky by identical 81-77 scores to slip into second place in the East. If they can hold onto that spot, they'll get a first-round bye in the SEC tournament, which would be a nice bonus. It won't be easy, though. Four of the last six are away from Memorial Gym and the two home games are Tennessee and Florida."
    GW: North Carolina (N), Saint Mary's, Kentucky
    BL: Arkansas

    CBSsports.com: Gary Parrish's Weekend Look Back

    FoxSports.com: Jeff Goodman's Weekly Recap

    FoxSports.com: Power Rankings


    SEC STANDINGS  view
    East
    Florida 9-2
    Vanderbilt 6-4
    Georgia 6-4
    Tennessee 5-5
    Kentucky 5-5
    South Carolina 4-6
    West
    Alabama 8-2
    Mississippi State 5-5
    Arkansas 5-6
    Ole Miss 4-6
    LSU 2-8
    Auburn 2-8

    Commodores Around the Web Monday (Feb. 14)

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    COMMODORES AROUND THE WEB

    Men's Basketball: Jenkins, Vandy enjoy 3-day weekend (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: Jenkins takes text message to heart (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: Lockridge's AP top 25 (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: Jenkins' star turn carries Commodores (City Paper)

    Men's Basketball: Jenkins' 32-point performance leads VU (InsideVandy)

    Men's Basketball: Is Vandy's Jenkins SEC MVP? (Times Free Press)

    Men's Basketball: Kentucky hits another roadblock at VU (Herald-Leader)

    Women's Basketball: UT bounces back from deficit to beat VU (Tennessean)

    Women's Basketball: VU can't withstand Lady Vols' surge (City Paper)

    Baseball: Gray latest great ace at Vandy (College Baseball Insider)


    VUCOMMODORES.COM NEWS

    Men's Basketball: Vanderbilt 81, Kentucky 77

    Women's Basketball: Tennessee 65, Vanderbilt 57

    Men's Tennis: Vanderbilt defeats No. 22 Michigan 5-2

    Men's Tennis: 'Dores top No. 23 Washington 5-2

    Women's Tennis: VU defeats No. 13 Notre Dame 4-3

    Women's Tennis: Dores fall to No. 8 Michigan 4-3

    Lacrosse: Dores defeat Presbterian 22-3

    Bowling: Bowlers finish second in Delaware

    Track: VU competes at Tyson Invitational


    VIDEOS OF THE DAY

    Men's Basketball: Vanderbilt-Kentucky highlights and interviews



    Women's Basketball: Vanderbilt-Tennessee highlights and interviews




    PHOTO OF THE DAY

    John Russell's cool photo of John Jenkins saluting the student section following his career day against Kentucky. View more images




    SONG OF THE DAY

    Outstanding performance by Mumford & Sons, Avett Brothers, and Bob Dylan on the Grammy Awards last night.




    CONNECT WITH US TODAY

    Follow the Commodores on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


    Saturday morning hoops articles (Feb. 12)

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    Keep up with the blog at vucommodores.com/blog. You can also follow me on Twitter @BarcaBlog.

    No. 18 Kentucky at No. 23 Vanderbilt - 12 p.m. CT, Memorial Gym
    TV: CBS (Kevin Harlan and Bill Raftery)
    Radio: 97.1 RQQ (Joe Fisher and Tim Thompson), VUcommodores.com
    Follow the action live online - click here

    AROUND THE WEB

    Tennessean: SEC schedule raises red flag

    Tennessean: Vanderbilt-Kentucky: Game preview

    City Paper: No time for VU to rest on its laurels

    CBSsports.com: Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt preview

    Herald-Leader: Liggins presents difficult test

    Herald-Leader: Cats in search of second SEC road win

    Courier-Journal: Road is unkind to Wildcats


    OFFICIAL GAME PREVIEWS AND NOTES

    VUcommodores.com: Vanderbilt hosts Kentucky Saturday

    UKathletics.com: UK hits the road again


    NATIONAL NEWS

    Andy Katz: Weekend Watch (ESPN.com)

    Joe Lunardi: NCAA Bracketology- Vanderbilt No. 6 seed (ESPN.com)

    ESPN.com: NCAA Bubble Watch (ESPN.com)

    Gary Parrish: Weekend look ahead (CBSsports.com)

    Seth Davis: Weekend forecast (SI.com)

    Luke Winn: NCAA Power Rankings (SI.com)


    SATURDAY'S SEC SCHEDULE  live scores
    No. 18 Kentucky at No. 23 Vanderbilt, 12 p.m. CT, CBS
    LSU at Arkansas, 12:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network
    Ole Miss at Alabama, 3 p.m. CT, SEC Network
    Georgia at South Carolina, 3 p.m. CT, SEC Network
    Tennessee at No. 17 Florida, 5 p.m. CT, ESPN
    Mississippi State at Auburn, 6 p.m. CT, FSN

    SEC STANDINGS  view
    East
    Florida 8-2
    Vanderbilt 5-4
    Georgia 5-4
    Tennessee 5-4
    Kentucky 5-4
    South Carolina 4-5
    West
    Alabama 7-2
    Mississippi State 5-4
    Ole Miss 4-5
    Arkansas 4-6
    LSU 2-7
    Auburn 1-8

    Commodores Around the Web Friday (Feb. 11)

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    COMMODORES AROUND THE WEB

    Football: Q & A with Coach James Franklin (InsideVandy)
    "The next month really is a time for us to start working on our program and our players here," Franklin said. "I'm excited because it gives me the opportunity to get to know the guys that are already on our roster ... We had our first morning workout (Wednesday) from 5:45 to 6:45, and it was like chaos. They responded really well to it. Now, we're breaking up offense and defense, putting our playbooks together, and getting organized for spring ball. It's really the specific, hands-on football development, and making sure everyone understands the message I want."
    Men's Basketball: VU finishes plays, polishes off Alabama (Tennessean)
    "We made plays at the end," Kevin Stallings said. "Tinsley made some huge plays for us. He just continues to be better and better."
    Men's Basketball: Post-game comments from 81-77 win (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: VU wins a heart-stopper at home (City Paper)
    "The thing that we've hung our hats on all year is our ability to defend, and we had a tough time [Thursday] defensively," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "Vanderbilt did a great job."
    Men's Basketball: Dores prepare to enact revenge against UK (InsideVandy)

    Men's Basketball: 3 points on Alabama-Vandy (Huntsville Times)

    Men's Basketball: 'Memorial Magic' could magnify road woes (UKathletics.com)

    Men's Basketball: Cal, players preview Vandy game (UKathletics.com)

    Women's Basketball: VU ready for return date with Tennessee (InsideVandy)


    VUCOMMODORES.COM NEWS

    History Corner: Ron Bargatze recruited Vandy's greats

    Football: Replay: Live Chat with David Williams

    Men's Basketball: Vanderbilt 81, Alabama 77‬

    Men's Basketball: Joe Fisher's postgame show, ‪Alabama‬

    Men's Basketball: Fans encouraged to Wear Black to UK game

    Women's Basketball: Vanderbilt 69, Georgia 59‬
    "I'm so proud of how much the team has learned," Melanie Balcomb said. "I kept thinking back to Kentucky when they made the same run and we fell apart. Our body language was just terrific and didn't change. I think we know and have the confidence that we've been looking for. We have an identity now and we are stronger."
    Baseball: 104.5 FM interview with Tim Corbin

    Track & Field:
    VU travels to Tyson Invitational

    Men's Tennis: Off the court with Charlie Jones

    Bowling: Commodores off to Delaware


    VIDEOS OF THE DAY

    Football: 'War Room' on Signing Day



    NCC: Are you on board?



    Men's Basketball: Highlights and interviews from VU's win over Alabama




    PHOTOS OF THE DAY

    Bradley Buckets comes through in the clutch (view more of Steve Green's gallery)




    And don't forget to Wear Black Saturday for the Kentucky game (design by Banks Shepherd)




    SONG OF THE DAY

    Blessid Union Of Souls "Hey Leonardo"




    CONNECT WITH US TODAY

    Follow the Commodores on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


    Commodores Around the Web Wednesday (Feb. 9)

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    COMMODORES AROUND THE WEB

    Men's Basketball: Walker, Goulbourne practicing for VU (Tennessean)
    "I would say its 50-50 for me whether (Walker) plays on Thurs­day night or not," Stallings said.
    Men's Basketball: Bob Dudley Smith adds hall of fame to scrapbook (Tennessean)
    "I think it's a wonderful honor and I think that I'm lucky. I tell my wife, Jean, that I feel special now. Now somebody else has made some kind of deduction about me," said Smith.
    Men's Basketball: Taylor talks team and family (InsideVandy.com)

    Baseball: VU works to go above preseason rankings (City Paper)
    "It is great to get a little respect from the media and different people associated with college baseball," third baseman Jason Esposito said. "But you want to be No. 1, not fourth or fifth. That is what our sights are set on."
    Baseball: Vandy athletes catch the Twitter bug (InsideVandy.com)

    Baseball: VU gets back in the swing of things (InsideVandy.com)


    VUCOMMODORES.COM NEWS

    Women's Basketball: All tickets allocated for UT game

    Women's Basketball: 'Dores travel to Georgia

    Women's Basketball: Angela's Angle, Feb. 9

    Baseball: Commodores continue season preparations

    Baseball: Drew Fann's College Baseball Daily Blog

    Soccer: Signee Taylor Richardson


    SONG OF THE DAY

    Since we're on "snow patrol" in Nashville...




    CONNECT WITH US TODAY

    Follow the Commodores on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


    Hoops Roundup: Rankings, bracketology (Feb. 7)

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    (Photo by John Russell)

    VANDERBILT MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE/RESULTS  view

    Last Week
    Tuesday, Feb. 1: Florida 65, Vanderbilt 61 (OT)
    Saturday, Feb. 5: Vanderbilt 78, South Carolina 60

    This Week
    Thursday, Feb. 10: Alabama at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. CT, TV: ESPN2
    Saturday, Feb. 12: Kentucky at Vanderbilt, 12 p.m. CT, TV: CBS


    COMMODORES REMAIN IN RANKINGS

    For the third consecutive week, Vanderbilt has been ranked in both major polls.

    The Commodores (16-6, 4-4 SEC) are currently 23rd in the Associated Press Top 25 and 24th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.

    VU's next two opponents also appear in the rankings-- Alabama (15-7, 7-1) is receiving votes and Kentucky (16-6, 4-4) sits at No. 18.


    BRACKETOLOGY UPDATE

    ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi listed Vanderbilt a No. 6 seed for the fifth week in a row.

    SI.com's Andy Glockner also placed VU as a No. 6 seed.


    QUOTES FROM MONDAY'S SEC TELECONFERENCE WITH KEVIN STALLINGS
    Listen to the teleconference on SECsports.com

    Stallings' opening statement...
    "We're hoping to get more healthy. Lance Goulbourne has been suffering from an ankle injury and has not been very effective recently. We're hopeful of being able to get him some rest and healthier by game time on Thursday.

    "We felt good about how we played on Saturday against South Carolina. We've got a very difficult week this week with the first place team coming in on Thursday. So, we're just going to do all we can this week to prepare and play an obviously very good Alabama team."

    On doing TV interviews during media timeouts...
    "That was something that was brought up at the league meetings that I think ESPN had the desire to do. We were encouraged as a group to be willing participants, so we agreed that we would be. There are some coaches that love to see themselves on camera, but in general, I don't think it's something coaches would prefer to do. But we agreed to it, so that's what we got. It's a little bit of a run-off of the things that the NBA is doing. It was just a concept that might make our game more enjoyable for people that were watching it on television.

    On John Jenkins' season...
    "He's really a remarkable, remarkable player, in my opinion. He's not the fastest guy, and certainly not the highest jumping guy, but he knows how to play. He knows how to use screens, he knows how to get himself open. He's got more game off the dribble than I think people tend to think, and he can make a variety of shots. I think one thing that helps him is that he's got a great shot fake. When he lifts up, first of all, you have to respect it because he's such a great shooter. If he gets you out of position, then he can draw a foul or get around you. For a guy that's not the most athletic guy in the world, he really maximizes the skill set that he has. He's been incredibly consistent and very, very valuable."

    On the recruitment of Festus Ezeli...
    "We saw him playing AAU basketball the summer prior to the fall he enrolled at Vanderbilt. He made several recruiting visits and there were other schools that were very interested in him; very high-level schools like Florida, Ohio State, Connecticut, Boston College. He basically came, enjoyed the visit, and liked the guys that were here. He essentially came on the condition that we redshirt him. He was going to go to a prep school and as he put it back then 'to learn how to be on a team.' We convinced him that he could learn how to be on a team here. So then, he agreed to come, but only on the condition that we redshirt him, and so that's what we did."

    On Ezeli's progression since coming to Vanderbilt...
    "His progress has been really incredible. He was very raw; the work ethic that you have to have to succeed at this level was completely new to him. He had trouble getting through an individual workout when he first got here. He's turned into one of our best workers. He's got a great spirit. He's extremely coachable and he really cares about not letting his teammates down. He gives you his best effort every day and as a coach that's all you can ask."


    MORE COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS

    SECsports.com: SEC Players of the Week

    ESPN.com: Weekly Watch Week 11
    Places to be this week...
    Thursday, Nashville: "Alabama is 7-1 in the SEC. I did not expect to be writing that sentence at any point this season, but expectations or not, there it is. The Crimson Tide have a handful of easy games left on their schedule -- thanks SEC West! -- but two real road tests stand out. The last (and perhaps most crucial) comes March 1 at Florida. The first is Thursday night, when the Tide takes its impressive, physical defense to Vandy's always tough Memorial Gym."
    ESPN.com: Andy Katz's Observations from the week

    ESPN.com: Eamonn Brennan's Observations from the week

    SI.com: Seth Davis' Hoops Thoughts

    SI.com: Andy Glockner's Bubble Watch
    SHOULD BE IN
    Vanderbilt (16-6, 4-4; RPI: 19, SOS: 19)
    "Dear refs, John Jenkins doesn't airball threes. Now that we got that out of the way, Vandy is far from in the barn as far as the NCAAs but also has excellent opportunities to move up. The 'Dores still get Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky all at home (plus a trip to Lexington late in the season). The fun starts this week with league leader Alabama coming to Nashville before the Wildcats come calling."
    GW: North Carolina (N), Saint Mary's
    BL: Arkansas

    CBSsports.com: Gary Parrish's Weekend Look Back

    FoxSports.com: Jeff Goodman's Weekly Recap
    Week's Top Matchups: 6. Alabama at Vanderbilt, Thursday
    "I never would have figured that Alabama would be involved in any game to watch this season, but the Crimson Tide sit atop the SEC and really could make a statement with a win in Nashville."

    SEC STANDINGS  view
    East
    Florida 7-2
    Tennessee 5-3
    Georgia 5-4
    Vanderbilt 4-4
    Kentucky 4-4
    South Carolina 4-4
    West
    Alabama 7-1
    Mississippi State 4-4
    Arkansas 4-5
    Ole Miss 3-5
    LSU 2-6
    Auburn 1-8

    Commodores Around the Web Monday (Feb. 7)

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    COMMODORES AROUND THE WEB

    Men's Basketball: Taylor's defense improves offense (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: VU taps its reserve player strength (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: Post-game comments from Vandy's win (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: Multiple marksmen carry Commodores (City Paper)

    Men's Basketball: Dores rebound after tough losses (InsideVandy.com)

    Football: Q&A with Vice Chancellor David Williams (InsideVandy.com)

    Football: Caldwell moves on with return to home state (City Paper)


    IN THE PROS

    MLB: Minor comes home again (Tennessean)


    VUCOMMODORES.COM NEWS

    Football: Live Chat with David Williams Wednesday

    Men's Basketball: Vanderbilt 78, South Carolina 60

    Men's Basketball: Submit questions for Joe Fisher's mailbag

    Women's Basketball: Vanderbilt 103, Florida 97 (2OT)

    Men's Tennis: VU sweeps Memphis at home

    Women's Tennis: 'Dores sweep Princeton

    Women's Tennis: Vanderbilt defeats Yale, 6-1

    Swimming: VU loses heartbreaker to Tulane

    Track and Field: 'Dores compete at two meets

    Rod Williamson: Quick Slant- Remarkable recruiting effort


    VIDEOS OF THE DAY

    Men's Basketball: Vanderbilt-South Carolina highlights and interviews - Watch Videos








    SONG OF THE DAY

    Oasis - D'You Know What I Mean?




    CONNECT WITH US TODAY

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    Saturday morning hoops articles (Feb. 5)

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    Keep up with the blog at vucommodores.com/blog. You can also follow me on Twitter @BarcaBlog.

    South Carolina at No. 23 Vanderbilt - 12:47 p.m. CT, Memorial Gym
    TV: SEC Network, ESPN3.com (Dave Baker and Will Perdue)
    Radio: 97.1 RQQ, VUcommodores.com
    Follow the action live online - click here


    AROUND THE WEB


    Tennessean: SEC homestand will be key for Vandy

    Tennessean: Vanderbilt-South Carolina: Game preview

    Tennessean: Stallings, players size up South Carolina game

    City Paper: Ezeli looks to increase contributions


    OFFICIAL GAME PREVIEWS AND NOTES

    VUcommodores.com: VU begins three-game homestand on Saturday

    GamecocksOnline.com: Gamecocks travel to No. 23/24 Vanderbilt on Saturday


    NATIONAL NEWS

    Andy Katz: Weekend Watch (ESPN.com)

    Joe Lunardi: NCAA Bracketology- Vanderbilt No. 6 seed (ESPN.com)

    ESPN.com: ESPN Power Rankings (ESPN.com)

    Gary Parrish: Weekend look ahead (CBSsports.com)

    Seth Davis: Weekend forecast (SI.com)

    Luke Winn: NCAA Power Rankings (SI.com)


    SATURDAY'S SEC SCHEDULE  live scores
    South Carolina at No. 23 Vanderbilt - 12:47 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
    Auburn at Georgia - 12:47 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
    Mississippi State at LSU - 3 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
    Alabama at Tennessee - 4 p.m. CT (Fox Sports South)
    Ole Miss at Arkansas - 5 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
    No. 10 Kentucky at Florida - 8 p.m. CT (ESPN)

    SEC STANDINGS  view
    East
    Florida 6-2
    Tennessee 5-2
    Kentucky 4-3
    South Carolina 4-3
    Georgia 4-4
    Vanderbilt 3-4
    West
    Alabama 6-1
    Arkansas 4-4
    Mississippi State 3-4
    Ole Miss 2-5
    LSU 2-5
    Auburn 1-7

    Around the Web: National Signing Day (Feb. 3)

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    Vero Beach prep star Larry Franklin inks with the Commodores Wednesday. (Photo: Sam Wolfe/TCPalm.com)

    Note: Go to National Signing Day Central on VUcommodores.com for signee highlight videos, bios and more.



    Associated Press: Franklin's class highlighted by QB
    "I don't know if it could've went any better really," James Franklin said. "We filled a lot of our needs, especially at the quarterback position and on the offensive line, defensive back, defensive line. Really did some good things, and I think we got faster, which is something we really wanted to do."
    Tennessean: Vanderbilt fills need at quarterback
    "In the last 48 hours, it was exciting," Franklin said. "We got on a roll the other night and the commitments were coming, and the commitments kept coming. The coaches were flying around, yelling, screaming. As we all know, a lot of times you work hard but you don't always see the dividends."
    Tennessean: The one way to tell if Vandy's recruiting has improved

    Tennessean: SEC crushes its opponents in February
    "As proud as I am with what we have done this year, we've still got a long way to go,'' Franklin admitted. "I think every time you set a goal and have an expectation and you reach that goal, now you have to set a new goal, a new standard, a new expectation.
    Tennessean: Signing Day photo gallery

    City Paper: Quarterback competition guaranteed by Franklin's class
    "If you don't want to be a competitor, this isn't the place for you. We are going to have the most competitive environment on this campus -- academically and athletically. If you're afraid of competition, don't come to Vanderbilt," Franklin said. "They understand that. Just like I told them next year I am going to recruit somebody to beat them out."
    InsideVandy.com: National Signing Day slideshow

    ESPN.com: Vanderbilt adds quarterback help

    ESPN: VU announces 2011 signing class

    Virginian-Pilot: Lafonte Thourogood picks the Commodores
    "I had to do what was best for me," Thourogood said. "That's what all of the coaches wanted, so I did what I had to do.

    "At first, (Coach Beatty) was telling me that it would be a good school for me. But in the end, he said whatever is best for me. Him saying that meant a lot to me. I sat back and prayed about it and thought about it a lot. And at the end of the day, (prayers) told me to go to Vanderbilt."
    Cape Coral Daily: Jimmy Stewart headed to Vanderbilt

    Tennessean: Joe Townsend chooses Vanderbilt
    "Vanderbilt offered me, I sat down, prayed about it and talked to my parents," Townsend said. "It's the (Southeastern Conference), it's close to home, it's a top-notch education."
    Tampa Tribune: Josh Grady going to Vanderbilt

    St. Petersburg Times: Josh Grady makes decision based on facts
    " ... at the end of the day, you have to understand that this is not a four- to five-year commitment," Grady said. "At the end of the day it's a 40- to 50-year commitment."
    Video: Josh Grady talks about picking Vanderbilt

    TC Palm: Larry Franklin impressed with Vanderbilt
    "They have a very good academic background, a great coaching staff that wants to turn the program around, and the players are motivated," Franklin said. "They've got the right mindset to win, and I feel like it's a great group of guys who are a lot like me. We're going to work hard to get on top."
    TC Palm: Larry Franklin read for next step

    Detroit Free Press: Conor Hart is Vandy bound
    "I just felt it was the place for me," Hart said. "I met the new coach (James Franklin) two weeks ago, and I think he'll bring a lot of energy to the program. He said they were going to change the culture and that he still wanted me bad. The staff has great energy. They are a bunch of young guys who have great energy and they want to win. I definitely wanted to be a part of that.
    Miami Herald: Jerron Seymour excited about Vanderbilt
    "I'm excited to come in to a program and try to turn them around and get things going," Seymour said. "I made up my mind Wednesday and called up the coaches and told them. An opportunity to play in the SEC is something you just can't pass up."
    OakRidger.com: Jose Valedon signs with Vanderbilt
    "I fell in love with the city and it was where I was born," Valedon said. "It is the perfect place to live. It's the SEC and you can't beat that. Plus the academics are unparalleled."

    Armwood quarterback Josh Grady answers media questions after announcing his decision to attend Vanderbilt. (Photo: Bill Ward/TBO.com)

    Commodores Around the Web Tuesday (Feb. 1)

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    Keep up with the blog at vucommodores.com/blog. You can also follow me on Twitter @BarcaBlog.

    Note: We'll have complete coverage of football national signing day starting at 7 a.m. CT Wednesday on VUcommodores.com. We'll post player bios with videos, quotes, photos and more on our NSD Central page. Also, follow @VandyFootball on Twitter to get instant notification for each signee when the NLIs come in.


    COMMODORES AROUND THE WEB

    Football: Commodores complete defensive staff (Tennessean)

    Football: Interview with defensive coordinator Bob Shoop (Tennessean)

    Football: Former foes come together to coordinate defense (City Paper)

    Football: Coach Franklin visits Greek Row (InsideVandy.com)

    Football: Franklin announces defensive staff (ESPN.com)

    Men's Basketball: Injuries hamstring Vanderbilt's rotation (Tennessean)

    Men's Basketball: Redshirts unusually plentiful for VU (City Paper)

    Men's Basketball: Injury issues continue to compound (City Paper)

    Men's Basketball: Duffy: Winning on the road isn't easy (NY Times)

    Men's Basketball: Hundley has basketball in his blood (Herald-Leader)

    Baseball: Journal with Drew Fann (College Baseball Daily)


    VUCOMMODORES.COM NEWS

    Football: Franklin announces defensive hires

    Football: Quotes from Franklin's announcement

    Men's Basketball: Vanderbilt-Florida game preview

    Women's Basketball: Angela's Angle, Feb. 1

    Lacrosse: VU picked 2nd in ALC


    VIDEOS OF THE DAY

    Football: Franklin's press conference on defensive staff - Watch Video



    Baseball: Dance-Off with Jack Armstrong, Navery Moore and Mark Lamm - Watch Video and Vote




    SONG OF THE DAY

    Seal - Bring It On




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