by Joel Welser
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, Sweet Sixteen loss to Georgetown
Coach: Kevin Stallings (5-4 in 4 NCAA appearances)
Jermaine Beal, Sophomore, Guard
Alex Gordon, Senior, Guard
Shan Foster, Senior, Guard
Ross Neltner, Senior, Forward
A.J. Ogilvy, Freshman, Center
Keegan Bell, Freshman, Guard
George Drake, Sophomore, Guard
Andre Walker, Freshman, Forward
Darshawn McClellan, Freshman, Forward
Alan Metcalfe, Senior, Forward
Why They Can Surprise:
Usually a team will shoot a good percentage from behind the arc, but not take many three-pointers. Or they will hit a slew of three-pointers, but shoot a poor percentage. Vanderbilt takes a lot and they make a lot. In fact, the Commodores and Valparaiso are the only two teams that rank in the top 20 in both categories. And Vanderbilt can thank Shan Foster and Alex Gordon for that stat. Foster hits nearly four long balls per game at a 44.9 percent clip. Gordon will not knock down quite as many, but his shooting is almost as efficient as Foster.
It is not just because they are good shooters that they hit the long ball so consistently; it is because they get open looks. Freshman center A.J. Ogilvy has quickly become a dominating big man in the SEC. With his presence under the basket, the opposition is torn between collapsing in the paint or defending the long ball. Either way, Vandy will score.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The team’s rebounding is better than last year thanks to Ogilvy, but it is still not very good. The Commodores will get outrebounded by most teams with a decent rebounder or two. In the team’s four regular season losses, Vandy was outrebounded by an average of 11.5 per game. Quite a few of those rebounds they gave up were on their defensive end and letting a team get that many easy second chance buckets is not good. Ross Neltner does a decent job beside Ogilvy on the glass, but Coach Kevin Stallings could use the bench players like Alan Metcalfe, Darshawn McClellan and Andre Walker to grab some rebounds. McClellan, a freshman, has definitely proven he can be effective on the boards, but he can be a liability in other areas.
Who To Watch:
As a freshman last season Jermaine Beal showed some promise as the backup point guard. However, he has exceeded most expectations once he took over the starting position for the 2007-2008 campaign. The 6-3 DeSoto, Texas product has a lot of quality scorers to distribute the ball to, so his 4.7 assists per game may not be that surprising. However, he only turns the ball over 1.6 times per game. For a team that likes to run and scores over 80 points per game, that is very impressive for a first year starter.
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