As the fourth-seeded Commodores prepare for their first round matchup with No. 13 Montana Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, sophomore guard Merideth Marsh sat down with The Sports VU to discuss everything from her favorite part about March Madness to her ideal pick-up team.
Q: What seed were you all anticipating, and how pleased are you with how things turned out? A: We were hoping for a 4 seed, but I thought for sure we would come out with a 5 seed. We are extremely happy with our seed because we feel that we are in a great position to advance far into the tournament.
Q: You guys were obviously expecting to be in the tournament, but what was it like to wait until the final region to hear your name called? A: Well I think most of us were anticipating that we were going to be in the Spokane Region because that's what a lot of people were predicting. We honestly didn't care where we went or how long it took to find out I guess. We just wanted to know when and who we played.
Q: It's been a while since you guys have a played a game. What have you done to stay focused? A: The coaching staff took a different approach than last year to our two weeks off. We have been practicing very hard and competing against each other trying to make one another better. We had a few practices where we focused a lot on individual strengths and weaknesses. We also did a lot of repetition of offensive sets just to make sure that everyone is on the same page. We have scrimmaged at the end of every practice thus far which I feel will help keep our focus on playing hard and making each other better so that we will be prepared for whoever we play. We were given a few days off so that we were allowed to catch up on school work and rest.
Q: How much does losing in the second round last year motivate you all now? A: We all know that last year was a big disappointment to those of us who were a part of the team. We also don't like how we performed in the SEC Tournament so we are happy that we get a chance to redeem ourselves. We know how good we are and we believe that we can truly go far in this tournament. It's always an inner motivation of each player of a team to do better than the team before them did so that in itself gives us motivation.
Q: What do you see as your team's strengths and what will it take for you guys do make a deep tourney run? A: Honestly, this year we have completely changed our style of play compared to last year. A huge strength of ours this year has to be our defense. We have completely taken our defense to another level. We now take pride in our defense and our ability to confuse the offense. Another strength that we have continued to excel in is our shooting. We all believe that we are great shooters and coach definitely encourages shooting. A huge strength that a lot of teams don't have is a strong bench. We have Jessica Mooney and Liz Sherwood coming off the bench contributing huge minutes and points. They bring energy, and we know that when we sub we aren't losing anything but gaining fresh legs. It's crucial to have a deep bench because the farther you go in the tourney the more legs you need to perform at your best.
Q: I'm sure you guys are close with the men's team. Who would you say is the funniest player on their team? A: Alan Metcalfe or Jermaine Beal.
Q: What is your favorite part about March Madness? A: The fact that anything can happen, and small Cinderella teams can shine. It's the best month of college basketball and every collegiate athlete lives for this time in their season.
Q: What's the best class you've taken at Vandy? A: My favorite is EDUC 1020 or PYS 2310.
Q: If you could play pick-up with any four people in the world, who would you take? A: Pete "Pistol" Maravich, Steve Nash, Michael Jordan and Dwyane Wade.
Q: Favorite song? A: That is too hard of question. Here are a few of my favorite artists...Josh Kelly, Colbie Caillat, Jeremy Camp, Aaron Shust, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rascal Flatts, Chuck Wicks, Ryan Adams, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Lifehouse, Griffin House, Josh Gracin, Kelly Pickler, Martina McBride, Stephen Speaks, Derek Webb. I love music!
Q: Favorite place to eat in Nashville? A: San Antonio Taco Company.
Q: Favorite movie? A: Oh now that's way too hard. I am a movie fanatic! Finding Nemo, Gone Baby Gone, Love & Basketball, Chronicles of Narnia, XMEN, Freedom Writers, Dumb and Dumber, Pretty Woman, Crash, Insomnia, A Beautiful Mind. Pretty much anything...
Thanks for your time, Merideth, and best of luck in the tournament!
-Jarred Amato is a junior at Vanderbilt University and also writes for "The Sports VU" at http://sportsvu.blogspot.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.