'Dores welcome shot against No. 1 Vols

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 1:58am

For the past month, Vanderbilt has had revenge on its mind for tonight’s game against Tennessee.

The fact that the Volunteers will arrive as the nation’s newly minted No. 1 team should turn Memorial Gym into a boiling cauldron.

UT was ranked No. 1 on Monday for the first time in school history, two days after defeating previously top-ranked Memphis.

On the VU campus, Commodore players were smiling.

“It was hard for me to cheer for them, but I was pulling for them, figuring they would get that No. 1 spot,” forward Ross Neltner said. “We’re excited about another opportunity to knock off No. 1 again this year. We know what it takes. A lot of guys who play a lot of minutes have been there before.”

Vanderbilt beat top-ranked and eventual national champion Florida a year ago at Memorial Gym. The last three top-ranked opponents to take on the Commodores in Nashville have been beaten.

Opportunities get no juicier.

“It’s going to be an intense game,” VU guard Alex Gordon said. “It’s going to come down to who wants it the most.”

Vanderbilt, ranked No. 18 this week, believes it barely put up a fight in losing 80-60 at Tennessee on Feb. 17.

The Commodores committed 22 turnovers, helping Tennessee break open a 61-53 game in the second half and roll to an easy win.

“We just got punked,” Neltner said. “They bullied us on screens, turnovers and stuff like that. We’re trying to reconcile that now and keep getting better.”

In watching film of January’s game Sunday, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings recoiled at images of his team taking a beating.

“They just out-physicaled us, out-aggressed us and out-played us,” he said. “We were beaten to every loose ball, we were beaten to every rebound, we were beaten through every screen. The good news is, hopefully, it can only get better.”

Thus, Vanderbilt is pinning its upset hopes tonight in large measure on its ability to handle Tennessee’s pressure defense, avoid turnovers and create good shots.

Easier said than done, perhaps. The relentless Vols generate 19.4 turnovers per game — the seventh-highest total in the nation — lead the Southeastern Conference with 10 steals per game and average 22.8 points per game off of turnovers.

The Commodores, plagued by turnovers earlier in the season, have coughed up only 10 or less in four of their past five games.

Similar efficiency will be required tonight against the Vols.

“You have to put together 40 minutes of your best basketball, and we didn’t do that when we played them in Knoxville,” VU’s Shan Foster said. “It’s the same thing it was last year against Florida. You have to be poised. You have to come out and play with great effort and passion. If you don’t, you’re going to get beat.”

For the Commodores, it might boil down to standing up to the neighborhood bully.

“Without a real commitment to being much more aggressive than we were in the first game, it doesn’t matter what scheme we play,” Stallings said. “If we play a little harder and compete a little better, then maybe scheme will come into play.

“Last year, we maybe played our best game of the season against Florida when they came in here. It will take a performance of equal proportions for us to win this game.”

Filed under: Sports
By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00


By: jwk6179 on 12/31/69 at 6:00


By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Please go Vols. Go away.

By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

how could anyone cheer for Vandy over the Vols? the Vols are better in almost every sport almost every year, except maybe croquet. Vandy fans are so uptight and whine like a 3 month old.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

cocheese, I don't have any ties to any university accept MTSU where my daughters attended. I have lived in Nashville all my 52 years and I have always pulled for my home town teams first as well as the local NASCAR drivers. THAT, is how I can pull for them. Are you saying you pull for only teams that win more? Now that's a loyal fan, not!

By: jamiecarroll on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thank you, cocheese, for confirming what most of us already knew - that most Vol fans are frontrunners.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Or they love the bandwagon!

By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I'm a native TENNESSEAN, that's how I became a VOL fan. I've been a VOL fan since I was born, and will be to the day I die. I was just enjoying poking fun at all you lousy whinny Vandy fans. The Vols sell out that 100k+ stadium every Saturday it's open in the fall, wether it's a up or down season. I seem to remember the Vandy fans being the ones who don't show love for their stumbling team, but as soon as they have a 2 game win streak they start falling from the sky. Same way with the baseball team. I remember going to games 2 years ago and being able to sit anywhere I wanted, but as soon as they get on a roll all you got is elbow room. Just wait till they fall off again, no one will even remember Vandy has a baseball team. I for one will be thankful, cause I love to watch college baseball even if I have to watch the black and gold.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

cocheese, those empty seats are due to many fans who live in Nashville but have no ties to UT, but pull for them ONLY because they win more. The empty seats are not Vandy fans, they are due to the bandwagon fans. If they wanted to support the LOCAL team, they would be in those seats or pulling for them.

By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

What are you talking about? You're making no sense. Vandy fans do not support their team until they get on a roll, or if they're playing UT, and then as soon as the magic is gone so are they. It has nothing to do with UT. STop trying to blame Vandy's shortcomings on UT. Vandy fans like to talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

That's some great sportsmanship you show cheese. The only "whining" I can see is yours about poor old Vandy fans. So what if they don't support their team like UT, why does that threaten you so? LOLBy the way, Go VANDY. LOL @ U

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

There are many of you who have no ties to UT but pull for them ONLY because they have a winning tradition. I pull for my HOMETOWN teams first regardless of record. BTW, you have the whining all wrong. When things don't exactly right for the vols, the so called vol fans cry so much the National Weather Service has to issue a FLOOD WARNING!

By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Just making the point that UT fans are not the bandwaggon type, as they were refered to as first and that Vandy fans are flaky. It's all in good fun, well until you came in. It's gonna be a great game tonight. I'm sure that Pearl will have the boys fired up and ready to take the wind out of Memorial Gym.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If Vandy pulls the upset, I'll be thrilled! If Vandy loses, I'll give props to the number one team in the country. If Vandy can't pull it off, I hope they make it a great game.

By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

There may be some UT fans like that Titan, but you don't fill up a 100k+ seat stadium with bandwaggon fans. I don't live in Nashville(thank God)but I do live in Tennessee, so I'm pulling for my HOMESTATE team. So what's your point? When your at the top it does hurt a lot more when you fall, and if your use to being at the bottom all the time, dissapointment is just expected. Oh and that was a pretty lame joke, but I guess it's not bad for an uptight Vandy fan.

By: nwilkerson on 12/31/69 at 6:00

cocheese says, " I'm a native TENNESSEAN, that's how I became a VOL fan." I too am a native Tennessean, therefore I'M NOT A VOLS FAN!!! As a native of Nashville, I've never understood why people would cheer for a bunch of hillbillies 200 miles away when you have a good team with Student Athletes in your back door. Look at the difference in character of Shan Foster and Britton Colquitt and you'll see why I choose Vandy!!! GO DORES!!! BTW, the last 3 #1 teams to come into Memorial left losers!

By: cocheese on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The game doesn't have much meaning other than for bragging rights and pride. It is going to be a great game. Vandy better bring their A game and Charlie Hustle. If Vandy wins I'll be the first to say "dammit!" Just being honest.

By: jwk6179 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I do pull for HOMETOWN TEAM, which is UT. I was born in Knoxville, grew up in Knoxville, went to school at UT and still have family in Knoxville. I moved here from Knoxville 22 years ago for my job and have been here ever since. I never hated Vandy until I moved here and met some of their CRYBABY FANS. In fact, I never understood why anyone would hate Vanderbilt until I met some of their fans. I know some of you Vandy fans will say if you want to pull for UT, then move back to Knoxville, but be sure to tell all the KENTUCKY, ALABAMA, AUBURN and FLORIDA fans in the area to move back to Lexington, Tuscaloosa, Auburn and Gainesville.

By: nwilkerson on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The game really does have meaning other than bragging rights and pride. For UT it could mean getting knocked off their #1 perch and out of a #1 seed. For Vandy, it could mean continued upward mobility and improved seeding in the tourney. You're right; Vandy better bring the A game and Charlie Hustle, but given our record in Memorial over the last 2 seasons, YOU CAN COUNT ON THAT! GO VANDY!!!

By: nwilkerson on 12/31/69 at 6:00

WHO'S WHINING HERE? ............I'M BACK FROM LOOKING AROUND...I DIDN'T FIND ANYONE WHINING EXCEPT UT FANS! THANKS AND GO DORES!!! BTW, all of the above mentioned fans by jwk6179 are welcome to live here and cheer for their teams. Just expect to be mesmerized by Memorial Magic when they come to town!

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

cocheese, I said those who live in Nashville. You know they are out there.

By: UTHATERS on 12/31/69 at 6:00

OH MY GOSH. COCHEESE. you are the dumbest hillbilly i've evermet. AT LEAST US VANDY FANS ARE SMART. You UT fans are so STUCK UP AND HONESTLY you all should get them KICKED OUT OF THE SEC. honestly you are all so FULL OF YOURSELVES SO JUST STOP IT. GOD LOVES US and that is all that MATTERS He doesnt care if you are a UT OR VANDY FAN. so just think about that.

By: UTHATERS on 12/31/69 at 6:00