Nov. 5, 2013
The offseason workouts and long October practices are over for the Vanderbilt men's basketball team, and now the fun can begin as the team hits the Memorial Gym floor in front of Commodore fans for the first time Wednesday night when they play an exhibition game against Alabama-Huntsville. The game is set for a 7 p.m. CT, and will be broadcast live on Vanderbilt's flagship station in Nashville, WLAC 1510 AM.
The Commodores, who return seven letter winners and three starters from the 2012-13 team that won seven of their last 10 games and advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive season, will take on Alabama-Huntsville for the fourth time since 2008 in an exhibition game. The two teams last played an exhibition prior to the 2010-11 season.
Exhib 1/Vanderbilt vs. Alabama-Huntsville
Nashville, Tenn. - Memorial Gym - 7 p.m. CT
Radio: Vanderbilt Radio Network from IMG College, vucommodores.com
Radio Talent: Joe Fisher (pxp), Tim Thompson (analyst)
Live Stats: vucommodores.com
Twitter Updates: @VandyMBB
Joe and Tim are Back on the Call for the Commodores
Voice of the Commodores Joe Fisher and color man and Vanderbilt alumnus Tim Thompson return to call all of the action court side this season. Fisher is entering his 16th season, while Thompson his 13th.
Three Starters Return
After losing their top six players at the end of 2012, Vanderbilt played with a very young squad in 2012-13 (no seniors, ranked 322 in KenPom.com’s experience rankings), and returns three starters (Rod Odom, Dai-Jon Parker, Josh Henderson) for 2013-14 and nine letterwinners.
The two starters lost were point guard Kedren Johnson, the team’s leading scorer from 2012-13, who is suspended for the 2013-14 season after a violation of university policy, and Kevin Bright, who decided to return home to Germany to sign a professional contract. The Commodores also lost the services of freshman Sheldon Jeter, who elected to transfer.
Stallings On Verge of Becoming Vanderbilt's All-Time Wins Leader
Head Coach Kevin Stallings, now in his 15th season with the Commodores, captured his 400th career victory against Kentucky in the 2013 SEC Tournament quarterfinals, and he now trails all-time Vanderbilt wins leader and legendary coach Roy Skinner by one win to tie him for the all-time Vanderbilt wins lead. Skinner has 278 wins, while Coach Stallings has 277. Stallings is the all-time wins leader at Memorial Gym with 187.
Commodores Hope Trip to Europe This Summer Pays Dividends
In August, the Commodores ventured to Greece and Italy for a 10-day tour of the two countries, which included two games against a French Division I All-Star team in Greece and two against an Italian Division III squad in Rome. Vanderbilt came away 4-0 on the trip. Freshman Damian Jones, who only played in the two games in Greece because of a school obligation, led the team with 13 points per game. In four games, Eric McClellan averaged 12.3 points per game, Rod Odom 11.5 points per contest, Dai-Jon Parker 10.3 per game, and Josh Henderson 10.0 points per game.
Vanderbilt's last two trips overseas resulted in very successful seasons - in 2009, the team went to Australia and followed up the trip with a 24-9 overall record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, and in 2003, the team ventured to Spain and the Canary Islands and finished that season in the Sweet 16.
Threes a Big Part of Offense in 2012-13
In fact, 38.7% of the team’s total points came off of threes in 2012-13, which ranked first nationally, according to KenPom.com. 43.9% of Vanderbilt’s attempts from the floor were threes in 2012-13, which ranked ninth out of 347 Division I teams.
Speaking of Threes
Vanderbilt has made a 3-pointer in 865 consecutive games, a streak which began at the inception of the 3-point line in 1986-87. The Commodores rank second only to UNLV for the longest streak in Division I basketball. Vanderbilt, UNLV and Princeton are the only three schools in college basketball to have made at least one 3-pointer in every game played since the 3-point line was implemented.
The Vanderbilt Backcourt
The Commodores return junior shooting guard Dai-Jon Parker, who averaged 7.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in his sophomore campaign, but Vanderbilt must replace the services of leading scorer and point guard Kedren Johnson, who has been suspended for the 2013-14 season, and shooting guard Kevin Bright, who returned to his native Germany in the offseason to sign a professional contract. Johnson led the team with an average of 13.5 points per game, and Bright was the team’s leading three-point shooter and rebounder.
Stepping into Johnson’s shoes at the point guard slot is sophomore guard Eric McClellan, who transferred from the University of Tulsa after his freshman campaign. The 6’4 guard, who practiced with the team last season, started in 16 games at Tulsa and played in 30, averaging 8.5 points per game for the Golden Hurricane.
With the departure of Johnson and Bright, Parker, from Baton Rouge, La., must pick up the scoring load. The junior showed signs at the end of the 2012-13 season of doing just that, when he averaged 12.3 points per game in the team’s last four contests, while also averaging 6.3 rebounds in that same span.
Also returning for Vanderbilt is senior point guard Kyle Fuller, who showed flashes of brilliance for the Commodores in his junior season. Fuller ended the 2012-13 as the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 8.7 points per game, while scoring in double figures 13 times, including a 25-point performance in an overtime win at Xavier.
The Commodore Frontcourt
The Commodores have assimilated a number of movable parts at the three and four positions, beginning with senior Rod Odom, who averaged 10.4 points per game in 32 starts at the power forward position. Odom, who has gained confidence in his outside shot and his ability to get to the rim this offseason, will see some time at the three position as well.
Also returning at forward for Vanderbilt is redshirt junior James Siakam and junior Shelby Moats. Siakam, an explosive offensive rebounder and athletic presence around the rim, played in 26 games last season, and averaged 2.0 points and 1.9 rebounds. Moats, a four-man who can knock down jump shots from the perimeter, also returns after averaging 3.0 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Both will be expected to contribute for the Commodores this season.
New to the fold is 7'0 freshman Luke Kornet, who is the son of a former Commodore great in Frank Kornet, who played in the late 80’s and then the NBA. Luke, who grew seven inches in his senior season of high school and two inches since he arrived on campus in June. He has guard skills and an outside shot, and signed with Vanderbilt in the spring after averaging 15 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, and three steals in his senior season at Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas.
Redshirt junior Josh Henderson returns at the center position after averaging 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 21 starts last season. Henderson, at 6’11, is very skilled offensively with a 15-foot range on his jump shot, and his defense and footwork has drastically improved since his arrival on campus.
Henderson will be pushed by incoming freshman Damian Jones, a 6’10 athletic big man from Baton Rouge, La. Jones, who won back-to-back state championships with his Scotlandville Magnet High School team, averaged 15.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 blocks, and 2.0 assists in his senior campaign, and was named the Louisiana 5A Player of the Year for his exploits last season.
Defense Outstanding In 2012-13
The Commodores surrendered only 60.1 points per game, which marked Vanderbilt’s best scoring defensive effort since 1950-51 (60.5 ppg).
The Commodores Only Have Two Seniors, But This Team Is Experienced