Nov. 8, 2008
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NASHVILLE – The Vanderbilt Commodores hit the floor for head coach Kevin Stallings’ 10th season and the university’s 109th campaign in Sunday’s game against Alabama-Huntsville, their only exhibition game of the year. The game tips at 4 p.m. CT and can be heard on 104.5 the Zone in Nashville and worldwide on www.vucommodores.com, with Joe Fisher and Tim Thompson on the call. A free live webcast of the game can also be seen on www.vucommodores.com.
The 2008-09 edition of Vanderbilt basketball will feature eight letterwinners returning from the 2007-08 team which finished 26-8, and seven talented newcomers - five true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen. Sophomore center A.J. Ogilvy, the school’s all-time leading freshman scorer and a preseason first team All-SEC selection, and junior point guard Jermaine Beal, who was third in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio last season, highlight the returnees, and this year’s true freshman class is the highest rated group that has ever suited up for the Black and Gold.
After the record-breaking season a year ago which had four seniors, this year’s team has no seniors, but it could be one of the most talented teams that has ever hit the Memorial Gym hardwood. Ogilvy, Beal, 6’9 sophomore forward Darshawn McClellan (2.7 pts, 3.0 rebs/game), 6’9 sophomore wing Andre Walker (2.4 pts, 2.0 rebs/game), 6’4 junior guard George Drake (2.1 pts, 1.4 rebs/game), 5’11 sophomore guard Jamie Graham (1.5 pts, 0.7 rebs/game), 6’9 sophomore forward Joe Duffy (0.9 pts, 0.7 rebs/game), and 5’11 sophomore guard Elliott Cole (0.0 pts, 0.6 rebs/game). 40.7% of the 2007-08 offensive production returns this year, 61.3% of the team’s rebounding total returns, and 45.2% of the assist total is back in 2008-09. Redshirt freshmen Festus Ezeli and Charles Hinkle are ready for game action after practicing with the team last season, and true freshmen Lance Goulbourne, Jordan Smart, Jeffery Taylor, Steve Tchiengang, and Brad Tinsley all arrived on campus this year with a chance to compete for playing time.
Ogilvy, a Sydney, Australia native, scored 20 or more points 11 times in 2007-08, and reached double-digits in 32 of his first 34 games as a collegian. Against Alabama on March 8, he tallied 17 points to overcome Mike Rhodes for the top spot on the freshman single-season scoring list, and ended the season with 578 points, a new Vanderbilt freshmen scoring record. He also ended the 2007-08 season with the ninth-best scoring average in the nation for a freshman (17.0). Ogilvy made 176 free throws in 2007-08, which set a new Commodore single-season record, and attempted 229, which is also a record. His 176 free throws made also led all SEC players.
Beal led the Southeastern Conference in Assist-to-Turnover Ratio with a 3.06 mark in 2007-08, which also ranked him third nationally in the category. Beal also tallied 158 assists during the 2007-08 campaign, a new record for Vanderbilt sophomores.
Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings, now in his tenth season, is quickly approaching the 300 victory mark in his 16-year head coaching career. Entering the 2008-09 regular season, Stallings has 293 career wins, and 170 in his ten-year career at Vanderbilt. Stallings ranks third all-time in Vanderbilt coaching wins behind Roy Skinner (278; 1959, 1962-76) and Bob Polk (197; 1948-58, 1960-61), and his Vanderbilt teams have posted four twenty win seasons in the last five years.