John Williamson began to field questions about this week’s practice plans from members of the Vanderbilt women’s bowling team on Saturday. At that point, the Commodores still were involved in their first tournament of the spring season.
“We tried to focus them on what we were doing because we were in Pennsylvania at the time,” Williamson, the only coach in program history, said.
But those questions arose when news spread about the collapse of a section of the roof at Smyrna Bowling Center, where the team trains and hosts an annual collegiate event in March. The damage occurred in the early morning hours Saturday when reports said the weight of snow and ice from the recent winter storm caused the collapse.
The Commodores, who have competed in the national championship tournament each of the last three years, finished ninth in a field of 28, which included 16 of the top 20 teams in the country.
Initial estimates are that the they can resume training in Smyrna next week, although only as many as 36 of the facility’s 52 lanes will be operational. The Music City Classic, scheduled for March 12-14, is not likely to be effected.
As of Tuesday afternoon, though, Williamson still didn’t have all the answers to the weekend questions. He had secured practice time that night in Columbia and for Thursday in Antioch. Wednesday remained undetermined.
On Friday, the team plans to travel to the St. Louis area and to practice that evening at a bowling center owned by the family of team members Josie and Jessica Earnest. The next day VU competes at the McKendree Baker Challenge, which will take place Saturday and Sunday in Fairview Heights, Ill.
“It is an inconvenience for us because it comes right as we start a stretch of five events in six weeks,” Williamson said. “But it’s more of an issue for the proprietor of the facility.
“To me, it sort of sums up what college athletics is all about. No matter what sport it is, you sort of have to react to things on the fly. That’s what we’re doing.”
Lipscomb’s Josh Slater got his week off to a good start, to say the least.
Monday morning, the junior guard on Lipscomb’s basketball team was named the Atlantic Sun Player of the Week after he averaged 30.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals in victories over Belmont and East Tennessee State, the latter in overtime.
That night, his 3-point shot at the buzzer gave the Bisons a 60-59 victory at Campbell. He finished that game with 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocked shots.
The three straight victories (by a total of eight points) lifted Lipscomb (12-10, 9-4) to second place in the A-Sun standings, a half game behind Jacksonville.
Lipscomb hosts Jacksonville on Saturday (1 p.m. at Allen Arena).
Fast balls and snow balls
Friday’s snowstorm coincided with the start of college baseball workouts. For Vanderbilt, that meant two days of pitching and hitting in the team’s indoor facilities and outdoor workouts with some atypical equipment.
“We spent a lot of hours shoveling snow off the tarp,” coach Tim Corbin said. “… The field’s in pretty good shape. The infield’s dry and we were able to scrimmage on Sunday.”
The players were off Monday. VU’s season is scheduled to open with a three-game series at home against Niagra, Feb. 19-21.
• The Lipscomb tennis programs will host “Spinning for Haiti” 7-10 p.m. Thursday to raise funds for earthquake relief in Haiti. Former coach Lynn Griffith and his wife, Dianne, adopted a child from Haiti last summer, and Griffith has made numerous goodwill trips to that country over the past eight years.
The event will consist of six 30-minute rides and will take place in the Spinning Studio on campus. Cost is $10 per ride. For information, contact Andy Mizell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Belmont junior Shaunda Strayhorn was named the Atlantic Sun women’s basketball Player of the Week Monday. She scored a career-high 25 points, which included 14 free throws on 18 attempts, at Campbell on Saturday. Two days earlier, she had a career-high eight rebounds (and 16 points) in a victory over Lipscomb.
• First-year Tennessee State football coach Rod Reed will host a meet-and-greet, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the TSU Dining Hall in the Floyd-Payne Center. Reed will discuss the Tigers’ signees and talk about the upcoming season. The event is open to the public. Those interested should contact Natasha Plant, (615) 963-5861 by 3 p.m. Wednesday.