Oct. 24, 2014
THE FLATS – Each week up until the beginning of basketball season, Ramblinwreck.com takes a look at an opponent on Georgia Tech’s non-conference schedule. This week, we look at Vanderbilt, a frequent opponent for the Jackets over the last decade.
Date: December 20, 2014
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Home arena: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316)
2013-14 Record: 15-16 overall, 7-11 in the SEC (11th place), 121st in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: SEC Tournament First Round, lost to Mississippi State 82-68
NCAA Championship Appearances: 13 (last in 2012)
All-time series record: Vanderbilt leads 39-33 (First meeting 2/6/1914)
Head coach: Kevin Stallings (entering 16th season, 292-192)
Starters returning/lost: 2/3
Top scorer returning: Damian Jones (11.3)
Top rebounder returning: Damian Jones (5.7)
Quick preview for 2014-15
In Kevin Stallings’ 15-year tenure at Vanderbilt, the Commodores have reached the NCAA tournament six times, including three straight from 2010-2012. However, since that three-year stretch, the Commodores have had back to back losing seasons and are just 15-21 in the SEC in that time. To turn the tide in 2014-15, Vanderbilt will look to sophomore big man Damian Jones. Jones led the team in rebounding as a true freshman and ranked second in scoring behind graduated senior Rod Odom. On top of his numbers Jones offers a unique blend of size and athleticism at the post position and has been working on his jump shot this offseason. Although Jones is clearly a dangerous asset in the frontcourt, the Commodores will need to mature rapidly in the backcourt. Entering the 2014-15 season, Stallings returns no scholarship guards. Instead he will need to turn to a four-man influx of true freshman to run the offense.
Quick recap of 2013-14
Last year Vanderbilt entered early February tied for fourth place in the SEC and firmly in the discussion for an NCAA Tournament bid. The discussion didn’t last very long. The Commodores concluded the 2013-14 season losing five straight and eight of their last ten including their first one-and-done SEC tournament performance since 2009. The 2013-14 Commodores’ season-defining weakness was their shooting. Kevin Stallings’ squad ranked in the bottom four teams of the SEC in field goal shooting, three-point shooting and free throw shooting. Those poor marks translated into an SEC-worst 64.6 points per game. Of the bright spots in 2013-14, Vanderbilt’s defense ranked in the top five in both points allowed and field goal percentage allowed, but ultimately the poor shooting proved insurmountable.
Greatest program accomplishment
2012 SEC Championship and third straight NCAA Tournament Appearance – Vanderbilt basketball began in 1893, joined the SEC as a charter member in 1932 and has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 13 times. However up until 2010, Vanderbilt had only twice made it to the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons and never in three straight years. But in the 2011-12 season the Commodores made history with an unprecedented third straight appearance. Unlike their first two trips, the Commodores arrived in the field of 64 with a touch of flare by stunning the top-ranked and eventual national champion Kentucky Wildcats in the SEC Championship game. The 71-64 win gave the Commodores just their third SEC Championship in program history and their first in 60 years. Vanderbilt followed their improbable conference championship performance with their first NCAA tournament win since 2007 over Harvard before bowing out in the round of 32 to Wisconsin.
Greatest player in program history
Clyde Lee (1964-1966) – Clyde Lee, a Nashville native, is widely considered the best basketball player in the history of the Vanderbilt program. Lee graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,691) and rebounder (1,233) despite playing just three seasons. Today, Lee still ranks as Vandy’s top rebounder and his career 15.5 points per game still stands as the top scoring average in Commodore basketball history. Over the course of his three-year career the Commodores won 65 games, captured the 1965 SEC regular-season crown and qualified for the only NCAA Elite Eight appearance in program history. Following a UPI All-American junior season, Lee opted to declare for the draft and was selected third overall by the San Francisco Warriors. In the NBA, Lee carved out a ten year career with San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia and scored over 5,000 points.
Place to visit on campus or in the city
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – Based in downtown Nashville, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is the epicenter of the country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tenn. The Hall of Fame, established in 1961, is made up of over 120 bands and artists. The inaugural class included Fred Rose, Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams whereas the 2014 class consisted of Ronnie Millsap, the late Hank Cochran and Mac Wiseman. The museum itself presides over two million items and was recently accredited by the American Alliance of Museums assuring the museum operates at the highest standards. The institution has been affectionately referred to as the “Smithsonian of country music.”