Five For February
For the first time in program history, the Vanderbilt women's basketball team has five road SEC contests during February. During these five games, VUCommodores.com will bring you behind-the-scenes access with the team.
Monday, February 20 - at Kentucky
Welcome back to Five For February, our behind the scenes look at Vanderbilt women's basketball during their five road trips this month. While the Commodores are already on the road in Baton Rouge to face LSU, let's take a look back at the trip to Lexington, Ky., on Monday.
One of the most common questions about travel with the team is what exactly happens on the road. To give a little insight, we're going to give you a look at the itinerary for the trip to UK.
7:00 a.m. - Depart for Lexington, Ky.
11:45 a.m. - Arrive at hotel
12:15 p.m. - Light Lunch
1:20 p.m. - Depart for shoot around
2:00-3:00 p.m. - Shoot around
For the second half hour, the Commodores work on specific offensive and defensive sets for the game that night, under the direction of Balcomb and the assistant coach which scouted the opponent for that day. Garrick scouted the Wildcats on this day. If you're ever curious who scouts the opponent, its the assistant coach who does the pre-game interview with the voice of the Commodores, Charlie Mattos.
5:00 p.m. - Pre-game meal
7:15 p.m. - Depart for game
9:00 p.m. - Gametime
12:00 a.m. - Depart for Nashville
2:45 a.m. - Arrive in Nashville
February 11-12 at Georgia
While many Commodore fans spent Saturday morning focused on ESPN's College GameDay shooting live from Memorial Gym, the women's basketball team was hard at work in the practice gym preparing for its trip to Athens to take on the No. 21/20 Lady Bulldogs.
But film and practice didn't mean the Dores couldn't take a little time to enjoy the unique event. While several players were able to poke their heads in the gym during the show, the entire team was able to stop and pose on the set.
Then the Commodores headed to Athens, where we give you this installment's behind-the-scenes look.
Many early-arriving fans have noticed the Dores use a little bit more than the traditional stretching routine seen by most teams. Under the direction of strength coach Tasha Weddle, Vanderbilt can be seen using yoga mats, a foam roller and a lacrosse ball when they stretch.
Before practices, shoot arounds and games, Weddle takes the team through a routine of stretching and running designed to get the Commodores warm.
"Before a practice and shoot around, we do rolling on the foam roller and the lacrosse ball," Weddle explains. "That is to address trigger points to help the body work more efficiently."
Prior to a game, the team only uses the yoga mats during their pre-game routine, which happens about 55 minutes prior to the game and lasts for about ten minutes.
"We take our mats out because we want to get into a half-kneeling stance to do a hip flexor stretch," Weddle says. "What that does is open up the hip flexors and helps our glutes warm-up. So think better vertical jump, quickness and such."
Weddle explains that there is a very specific routine to the pre-game stretch.
"We always start with some kind of soft-tissue work," she says. "Then we go with opening the hip flexors and then we try to hit some ankle mobility, hip mobility and thoracic spine mobility. We always add in some squat movement pattern and lunge movement pattern and a lateral lunge movement pattern."
After stretching, the Commodores go through a set of running lines that involves several different types of jogs, runs and sprints, again designed to ramp the players up to game-ready.
"We're starting on the ground and come-up to a standing position, then once we're warmed-up we want to go into game speed," Weddle says. "We add in change-in-directon, starting and stopping, different directions of lateral movement, forward, backward and that kind of thing."
Weddle, who is full-time with women's basketball for the first time this season, was determined to have a set routine with the players.
"I wanted to have (the matt, roll and ball) at practice everyday," says Weddle. "Why not take advantage of everything we know to do. (The team) made a decision to take it all on the road with us. I think you will start to see other teams do it."
Take a look at the pre-game routine before the game at Georgia.
Of course this trip did not exactly end how the Commodores planned, falling to the Lady Bulldogs, 76-63.
February 4-5 at Mississippi State
The trip to Starkville to take on Mississippi State was a little different than the trip to Auburn. Instead of a flight, the Commodores bused the approximately five hours to eastern Mississippi.
While riding the bus may not sound like the most glorious form of travel, the Commodores travel to and from Music City just like some of the music scene's biggest acts, aboard sleeper busses. The busses feature two lounging areas with wireless internet, satellite televisions, refrigerator and microwave, as well as 12 bunks for those who like to catch up on their sleep on the road.
While the bunks are usually the most popular feature, especially for the voice of the Commodores, Charlie Mattos, who's morning radio duties usually have him up before dawn, this time it was the satellite TV that was the biggest amenity, as the Commodores were driving back from Starkville during the Super Bowl. This of course following another road win, defeating Mississippi State, 65-59.
We asked senior forward Jordan Coleman to take some video of what it's like to ride the bus with the Commodores. While we got the usual sampling of studying and snacking among the student-athletes, we also got a whole lot of Super Bowl talk.
February 1-2 at Auburn
The squad opened the month with a trip to Auburn, Ala., to take on the Auburn Lady Tigers. Departing after practice on Wednesday, February 1, things got off to a rather interesting start.
The plane that would take the Commodores to Auburn was stuck in Athens, Ga., due to fog. After a slight delay leaving Memorial Gym, the team finally boarded the plane but then had to wait for lightning to clear out of Middle Tennessee, only to find out the fog had moved to Auburn. This meant landing in Columbus, Ga., then busing the final 35 miles to Auburn.
Despite the difficulties in traveling to Auburn, the Commodores picked-up their first road in SEC play, besting the Lady Tigers, 66-61.
On the flight home, it was all smiles from the Dores...Well, most of them anyway (we're looking at you, Gabby Smith).
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