Oct. 28, 2013
TODAY'S FEATURED PLAYER: Morgan Batey
So., Guard, 5-10
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
It's a well-known fact among Vanderbilt fans that sophomore guard Morgan Batey is a rebounding machine. But what most fans don't know is that Batey didn't always have much enthusiasm about that particular aspect of the game. It wasn't until her junior year in high school that she really developed her tenacity for rebounds.
Once she embraced that role, however, she has never let go. By the time she graduated from Pace Academy, she was the state of Georgia's all-time leader in rebounds (with 1,307 for her career), and she carried that momentum right into her freshman year at Vanderbilt.
She averaged 6.2 rebounds per game over Vanderbilt's final 10 games last season, including pulling down 11 rebounds in the Commodores upset win over Texas A&M on Feb. 24.
Today, Batey is our featured player as we continue our Countdown to Tipoff -- a two-week preview package that will spotlight a different player or coach each day. Batey recently sat down for an interview with vucommodores.com to talk about the coming season and a few other topics. Here's what she had to say:
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH MORGAN
QUESTION: How much pride do you take in the fact that, during high school, you became the all-time leading rebounder in the history of girls basketball in Georgia?
MORGAN: Rebounding wasn't always a big thing for me, but it was something my high school team really needed. I'd say my junior year was my breakout rebounding year. And from there I was just focused on rebounds. I'd say I wanted rebounds more than scoring. I take pride in it. In high school you don't see as many taller people, so it wasn't as big of a deal. But in college, (being) a guard that can rebound, I take a lot of pride in that.
QUESTION: Last year you made great strides as your freshman season went along. What do you attribute that to? Was it just a matter of adjusting the pace of play at the college level?
MORGAN: Definitely. As the year went on, you learn more things, different things that are going to help you prepare better for games, for practices. As the year went on, I just kept stacking up on knowledge and information that the coaches and other players were giving me. I think you should be growing as the season goes on so I guess it was good to see growth and I could see my better basketball at the end of the year.
QUESTION: When you were in the starting lineup for all four of Vanderbilt's postseason games last season did you feel like the intensity level - from yourself and the other players - was amped up even more for those games than it was in the regular season?
MORGAN: I think so. I mean, there's just the idea of you lose, you go home. There was just a stronger focus and a higher level of intensity to just get out there and do what we've been practicing. ... I think it was big for us to get to the NCAA tournament because that is a tradition for us. ... I think it puts a little pressure on us but at the same time, it keeps us playing at a high standard. But having the goal to get to the NCAA tournament and trying to do as well as we could was a part of the tradition.
QUESTION: Now that you've been through a full season, do you feel like you're prepared for almost anything this season?
MORGAN: It's like a whole new world out there (this year). ... I know all the drills, all the plays, most of the stuff. (And) once you know it, it's a different story. The coaches expect more of you because you know it. You expect more of yourself, because you know it. But it also helps you to start seeing different things and focusing less on learning and more on building (on what you've learned).
QUESTION: What is something that you do - maybe a hobby - that people are surprised to find about you?
MORGAN: I'm an avid video game player. I just like playing video games. It's just fun.
Favorite movie: Dreamgirls
Favorite fast-food place: Zaxby's
Favorite athlete (past or present): Serena Williams
Favorite vacation spot: Cancun, Mexico
Favorite celebrity: Beyonce
Favorite TV Show: Scandal
Favorite band/artist: Beyonce
Favorite thing to do on an off day from practice: Play video games
Favorite book: Harry Potter series
Favorite song: Crazy in Love/Diva ("You can't choose when it comes to Beyonce")
Most famous person you've ever meet: President Obama
Famous person you would most like to meet (past or present): Beyonce
What is your oddest talent: Make a real ugly face
My ultimate dream job: Actress
Name one thing on your bucket list: Scuba diving