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Men's Basketball SEC Tournament
Barca Blog - Life on the Road - Day 1

March 9, 2007

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Band Together: Wear White During Post-Season Play

BARCA BLOG - LIFE ON THE ROAD - DAY 1
MEN'S BASKETBALL SEC TOURNAMENT
Thursday, March 8, 2007

Well, I am back for round two. Just seems like I was in Atlanta (actually, I was in Duluth up until Sunday covering the Women's team). I am surprised I was asked to continue my road blog for a second week, this time at the Men's SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome. So here we go... (we'll see how long it lasts!)

Jermaine "Dolla" Beal gets ready to go to Atlanta on Wednesday around lunch. This will be the freshman's first SEC Tournament experience. Best nickname on the team by far. At least that I know of.

The man... the myth ... the legend. Congrats to DeeBee for being named SEC Player of the Year on Wednesday. Well deserved.

The team took two buses to the ATL, which is about a four hour drive from Nashville.

And off to Atlanta they go. I am taking a separate car. I think they heard about my me-first attitude on last week's trip. Can you blame them??

As you know, the department launched the "Band Together" campaign (www.vucommodores.com/bandtogether) this week for post-season basketball play starting Friday and continuing into the NCAAs for both the men and women. We are encouraging Commodore fans to WEAR WHITE at all remaining games. We will be handing out several hundred white t-shirts and headbands prior to Friday's 2:15 p.m. CT game against Arkansas.

Here's the shirt.... get yours!

Once we hit the road, I made sure to bring a "Spirit of Gold" CD. Decided to go with Volume Four on this trip. If you need a copy of your favorite Vanderbilt hits, contact the Band office!

Looks like we made it....

One thing I noticed immediately was how packed our hotel is ... it seems like everyone and their brother is staying here... although, neither of my brothers are actually here. Here are some Alabama players in the hotel lobby on Thursday just prior to facing Kentucky.

My favorite photo of the day (and of course, it's blurry). This superfan, pajamas and all, takes a quick phone picture of his favorite team, the Crimson Tide. I always wanted to make a web site with just pictures of people taking phone snapshots. It would be amazing. Then, the spin-off of that site would be pictures of people inside sporting events who are on the phone with someone else (in the same building) and are waving their arms (for who knows how long) so they can be pinpointed by their cell phone friend (usually because they have much better seats). I have a million of these ideas. Just need someone to go in 50-50 with me.

It's off to practice... we made a trip to Georgia State for today's run through.

You all know about Davis Nwankwo's great story click here. It's been one year since athletic trainer Mike Meyer restored Nwankwo's life after he suffered cardiac arrest at practice. This story always seems to put things into perspective for me. Bittersweet.

Another pic from practice.

Somebody pull that fire alarm - Byars is en fuego!

Senior Dan Cage has had a spectacular year, which included moving to power forward for the benefit of the team.

Assistant Coach King Rice works on some one-on-one drills with junior swingman Shan Foster.

Coach Kevin Stallings also deserves some praise for turning the ship around after a 1-3 start. He was named SEC Coach of the Year by his fellow conference coaches. Congrats, Coach!

Practice closes with a team huddle, and then we head back to the hotel.

Like I said before, the hotel is packed. The elevator waits are long...... very long. If you want to get anywhere, plan at least ten minutes ahead (throw in daylight savings time this weekend, and I am a head case). These people pictured are a part of the log jam in building. There's a national drama convention taking place in Atlanta this weekend (and they are at the same hotel as us). As one student told me in a candid one-on-one interview in the elevator that Barbara Walters would be proud of, this competition is the American Idol for aspiring actors. Contestants have traveled from all over the country and will perform 90 second monologues in front of judges. I always thought the comedy troupe "Kids 'n' the Hall" mastered the art of the monologue for television sketch comedy. Not an easy thing to do. By the way, this brings back nightmares of when I was forced to attend my brothers' drama competitions years ago. I have the super VHS tapes to prove it!

Log jam avoided... it's good to know people... The team managers showed me a back door elevator entrance specifically used for the teams to speed up this slug-like process... Yes, I am officially big time.

Quick picture of some team managers with our new friend, the hotel pizza guy.

After a quick nap, I headed to the arena. Yes, this sign once again confirms that I have VIP status. This can't last for long, can it? By the way, where's my limo?

Here's a shot of the gym floor in the Georgia Dome. I personally liked last year's design better - the plain retro look with limited logos and thin blue lines. This one will do though.

Alabama was the first team to be eliminated on Thursday after Kentucky pulled away in the second half with a 79-67 victory. Tough year for the Tide - battled injuries all year long.

Yes, you made the Barca Blog! Arkansas won game two after blowing past South Carolina in the second half en route to a 82-52 win.

South Carolina head coach Dave Odom reflected on his seniors during the post-game press conference. Here are his quotes:

Let me just say, I've been coaching a number of years, and I don't know that I've ever coached two guys, two players, two gentlemen who have committed more to a program, who have been better to work with, who have given more and asked less than Brandon Wallace and Tre' Kelley. They played their last game today in a Gamecock uniform. And I told them and I told the team, their contribution to Gamecock basketball will go on forever. They're tied to our program forever, and they will forever be remembered as very, very important members of basketball history at South Carolina.

Head coach Stan Heath was thrilled with his Razorbacks' impressive performance against the Gamecocks. Arkansas converted on twelve consecutive baskets at one point in the second half to ultimately end South Carolina's season. Every time I looked up from press row during the game, someone in red was dunking the ball. No lie.

Several Nashville media are in town for the big event. Chris Lee (VandySports.com) and Brett Hait (Nashville City Paper) are taking it all in, one moment at a time (sounds like a Whitney Houston song).

The defending national champion Florida Gators paid close attention to the Georgia/Auburn game, since they are scheduled to play the winner on Friday.

Newman! Georgia was victorious in game three by the score of 80-65 over Auburn. The Bulldogs are looking to make some noise this weekend to secure a NCAA birth. Coach Felton pointed out that they have the fourth-best conference record in the toughest league in the country (plus throw in some late-season injuries that contributed to their slide).

Georgia's Takais Brown had a big day against the Auburn with 19 points. Brown knows he has a tough challenge Friday when he faces one of the best front courts in the nation (Florida's Noah and Horford). Should be a good matchup. For the record, we have completed three games, all of which have been snoozers just after half time. We need something to remedy this situation. Tennessee/LSU ..... Next!

Oh, here's a look at the press area on the floor... it consists of three court-long rows of tables. I have to remember to watch what I say in this domain because you never know what will show up on an opposing team's radio talk show. My lips are zipped.

Tennessee vs. LSU - what a crazy game! Thursday night's finale sparked what had been a dull day on the hardwood. First, you had all the pre-game buzz from John Brady's pre-tourney press conference on Wednesday. Then you match that with LSU, a squad that reached the Final Four in Indy last year, needing to make an incredible four-day run to get in the Big Dance. Throw in a very questionable late charging call that sent the crowd and Brady into a frenzy (and ultimately pushed the game into extra time), and you had the making of a WWE pay-per-view. The Tigers were resilient in the end, controlling overtime to advance to the second round.

John Brady opened his post-game press conference by addressing a controvesial article that ran in a newspaper Thursday morning.

First of all, I want to say this, I think Dane Bradshaw is a wonderful young person. And for anybody that writes or implicates that I say anything different or believe anything different, is not true, and unfair to create something that's not even there. I don't know who wrote that, Nashville paper or somebody. I don't even know if they're here. But that was a cheap shot, and it was untrue, unfounded, and it was out of line.

I have to agree with Brady on this one. It was tabloid journalism at best. Not the first time, though. Personally, if I wanted to read twisted gossip, I would have a subscription to Us magazine.

Glen "Big Baby" Davis was in true form in the second half of Thursday's contest. He finished with 25 and 15 after being limited to only three points in the first half. The best thing about having an all-access pass was getting the chance to listen to him in the post-game presser. This guy has so many similarities to Shaq, including his ability to give great quotes. Here's just a sample:

1)You know what, winning on your mind, it gives you a lot of energy. I don't care if you're in the desert. I don't care, if you want to win, you know, determination to get the job done, that's what it's all about. There is no such thing as tired. And that's what you've got to think in your head, it's all mental. So, you know, you got to bring the beast out. So, you know, that's what I did. I envisioned a win, and I just turned into some just animal. (Laughter). And now, we play tomorrow. That's what it's all about, we want to win tomorrow. So see the beast again.

2)On his turnover against Ole Miss earlier this year that cost the Tigers the game: Oh, you know what, I can't even, you know, words can not express. You make a pass, and a guy juices right in your face, God is telling you something. And I just thank God that he gives me another chance to get out there and make the right pass.

LSU sophomore Garrett Temple clarified the term "juices" for nerds like me... it means to shoot and score. I feel even older now.

Well fans, that wraps up day one in Atlanta. Don't forget- the Commodores open-up against Arkansas Friday at 2:15 p.m. CT (televised by Lincoln Financial Sports). This picture was sent in from Caroline Venable.. she's ready to Band Together - are you??

Brandon Barca is the online director for VUcommodores.com. Send him your thoughts at brandon.barca@vanderbilt.edu.



 

 

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