Former Vanderbilt women's basketball stars Christina Wirth and Jen Risper are no longer teammates, but that doesn't mean the best friends wouldn't lend the other a hand.
Wirth and Risper, now with the Indiana Fever and the Chicago Sky, helped one another move into their new respective homes this past week, and have remained in close contact since leaving Nashville to help with the transition into the professional ranks.
"It was really cool for us both to help each other move in and get situated," Risper said. "(Christina) came down to help me move in even though I came there the day before."
After four remarkable years together with the Commodores, separating from each other and the rest of their teammates has been an adjustment.
"It's kind of weird when you're so used to having certain people around," Wirth said. "We've been talking and trying to encourage each other. The basketball's not too different, but when you don't know as many people it's kind of strange."
Training camps started for the teams on Sunday and will mainly consist of practices and drills since the preseason begins Friday for the Fever and Saturday for the Sky. Wirth and Risper will meet May 28 in Indianapolis for a preseason game. Should they make the final rosters, they will meet three times during the regular season.
The tandem helped Vanderbilt to two Southeastern Conference Tournament championships and four consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament during their careers. In the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Kansas State on March , they combined for 51 of Vanderbilt's points in the 74-61 victory to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row, and they came just short of an upset win over top-seeded Maryland in their final collegiate games.
Their senior seasons, Wirth was, among numerous accolades, an All-American and Lowe's Senior CLASS award finalist, while Risper was honored by both the SEC and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association as the Defensive Player of the Year.
On the strength of their sterling careers, Wirth was the 19th overall selection in the draft by the Fever, while Risper went 29th overall to the Sky.
Wirth lives only a few minutes from downtown Indianapolis and has settled in nicely.
"It's not too crowded and I'm not really a huge-city kind of girl so it's a good balance for me," Wirth said.
Risper joked about missing the comforts of Vanderbilt living, including there being no Munchie Mart and no McGugin Center, but she loves the Windy City.
"Definitely what people say it is," she said. "It is a beautiful city and there is a lot to do. It's really exciting."
Have her Vanderbilt coaches had any advice for her about living in Chicago?
"They told me where to eat pizza," Risper laughed.
(Editor's Note: David Rutz is a rising senior at Vanderbilt and is the Sports Editor of the Vanderbilt Hustler. He is serving as a summer intern in the Athletic Communications Office.)