March 29, 2007

The hoops season in review, part 1

Vanderbilt's hoop season started miserably, ended controversially, and was jam-packed with a lot of huge moments in between.

The Commodores started 1-3 and appeared destined for nowhere, but by January had turned their season around in stunning fashion, and by March, Vandy played its way into the NCAA Tournament as a six-seed in the East Region.

There, the Commodores made their second Sweet 16 appearance in four seasons before falling by a point to Georgetown in East Rutherford. Today, takes a comprehensive, notebook-style look at one of the more memorable seasons in recent Commodore sports history.

Humble beginnings
Realistically speaking, there were few reasons to be optimistic about the Commodores in 2006-07. Coming off an unemotional first-round NIT loss to Notre Dame, Vandy lost its two leading rebounders off a weak rebounding team in DeMarre Carroll and Julian Terrell. VU also graduated point guard Mario Moore, who had a poor senior year but had been a vital part of the team his first three seasons.

The Commodores did bring in promising freshman JeJuan Brown, and also got shooting guard George Drake off of a redshirt. In addition, the Commodore coaches planned on replacing Moore with Jermaine Beal, a highly-recruited high school player from Texas whom coach Kevin Stallings planned from day one to be his point guard.

However, things quickly got worse before they got better. As most expected, Vandy got killed inside against Georgetown by the duo of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. And when Beal couldn't generate any scoring from the point, it quickly became evident that his anointment was premature.

To make matters worse, sharpshooter Shan Foster was erratic through much of the season's first six weeks, and starting center Alan Metcalfe missed a month with a broken foot, and appeared out of shape when he returned.

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