James Franklin Reminds Us Why We Love Him (And Others Do Not)
"We'll talk about it [UT Coach Dooley's locker room excitement over beating Vandy]next year a lot. We'll watch it as many times as we need to watch it. That's a wound I'm going to leave open for a year and we'll discuss it next year. I look at that as respect. Some people act like they won a Super Bowl when they beat a team that the previous two years they won two games. But we'll move on, we'll have a lot of discussions about this next year when the time is right."
Vandy is playing without 6-11 senior Festus Ezeli, who’s sidelined by a knee injury, and their allegedly porous defense has been the topic of much discussion. Mark me down as puzzled by the allegations and discussion. Allowing NC State to score 79 points in a 76-possession game, as Kevin Stallings‘ team did in the Legends semifinals, is surely not the end of the defensive world. The Commodores’ one unalloyed defensive weakness, the high percentage of two-point makes recorded by opponents, is currently being offset by excellent defensive rebounding and a fair number of takeaways.
Some ownerships and organizations never get what it means to have a staff of credible, industrious and loyal coaches who can teach; one CEO constantly reminded his coaches that they were overpaid, receiving too much credit and not enough of the blame. Of course, in contrast to the NFL, baseball tries to cut costs in minute ways, so Major League coaches are paid a fraction of the minimum players' salaries and Vanderbilt's Derek Johnson is the sixth-highest-paid pitching coach in the game.
"It’s feeling good," Ezeli added. "I’ve been in a brace for the last two weeks now – it’s two weeks tomorrow since the injury. I think we start bending it and working on the mobility of the knee and get back into moving it again – we start tomorrow."
Asked when he thought he would be able to start running and exercising on the knee again, Ezeli answered: "I think four weeks (from the injury). Four weeks is two weeks from tomorrow. So I should be back to doing some more stuff again."
"Cornelius Vanderbilt was so angry when he learned that he had been betrayed by Morgan and Garrison that he wrote them one of the shortest, and surely most ominous, letters of all time. "Gentlemen: You have undertaken to cheat me. I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you. Yours truly, Cornelius Vanderbilt."
Vanderbilt Commodores men's basketball center Festus Ezeli, already suspended for six games, will miss six to eight weeks with sprained MCL and PCL ligaments in his right knee.
4. ESPN's Hubert Davis has thrown the first punch, calling Vanderbilt too "country club" to be successful. How the Commodores respond will tell tales of their fortitude and lasting power late into the season. Davis' words were a little strong, especially before practice even began, but they struck at a softness many basketball people pinpoint as the Commodores' March downfall. The talent is obviously there, so is the veteran leadership and the experienced head coach, now Vanderbilt needs to spend the majority of its practice time communicating, developing a closeness and mental toughness that will serve it well down the line.
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt Commodores -- Ezeli is the third-best player on a very good team. He is far from dominant.
But the team that is both good and intriguing enough to break up the blue blood club is Vanderbilt. Over the past few years the Commodores have been a respectable but nonthreatening bunch. This year, however, they will excel in every category. They have size, depth, athleticism, experience and quality point guard play, and Jenkins is arguably the best pure shooter in America. Kevin Stallings is an excellent coach and a good guy, and Vanderbilt is one of the finest academic schools in the country. This will be a fun team to watch and an easy team to root for. Now all they have to do is knock off Kentucky and Florida.
6. Can Vandy learn to protect the ball? Some preseason publications noted the presence of accomplished veterans Festus Ezeli, Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins and projected the Commodores for a top-five status — forgetting the same group lost 11 games last season.
The Commodores have lost first-round NCAA Tournament games in three of the past four seasons. Last year, the problem mostly was efficiency with the ball. They turned it over nearly as often as someone passed for an assist. It’s not all about point guard Brad Tinsley, a fine player who is slightly miscast. It is everyone’s responsibility to be more responsible with the ball.