Vanderbilt fans thought that they were done with Rotnei Clarke after he transferred from Arkansas. Thanks to Kevin Stallings's 2012-2013 schedule, he'll get one more chance to torch the Commodores at Memorial gym this year.
Vanderbilt released their out-of-conference slate for the upcoming men's basketball season last weekend, giving fans their first glimpse of this fall's rebuilding efforts. The 'Dores will face a few challenges - including Clarke's new team when Vandy hosts Butler University - but ultimately will ease into conference play behind a softer schedule than last year's veteran squad faced. The Rod Odom and Kyle Fuller-led team are assured only two games against teams that made last year's NCAA Tournaments - mid-major stalwarts Xavier and Davidson.
That schedule could beef itself up depending on how the 'Dores do in their preseason tournament. Vanderbilt will head to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic in November, and their side of the bracket could produce some strong early-season showdowns. They'll start their weekend paired off with Davidson, and a win there would likely lead to a showdown with Bob Huggins's West Virginia Mountaineers. If the team can make it all the way to the finals, they'll face either Gonzaga, Oklahoma, UTEP, or Clemson for the tournament crown.
A long run at the Old Spice Classic would add an extra degree of difficulty to an out-of-conference schedule that includes just two guaranteed games against teams from BCS conferences. Vandy will travel to Oregon in their second game of the season before hosting Villanova on December 1. That would be a big swing from last year's early schedule, which included five BCS teams - Oregon, Oregon State, Louisville, Marquette, and North Carolina State.
In all, the Commodores could face up to four teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. In 2011-2012, they faced five teams that ended up dancing in their out-of-conference slate.
Of course, a soft learning curve may be exactly what this team needs after losing six players to graduation or the NBA Draft this spring. Vanderbilt will be replacing their entire starting lineup along with their first big man off the bench. That means players like Odom, Fuller, and sophomores Dai-Jon Parker and Kedren Johnson will have to step up in a big way to get this team back to the NCAA Tournament.
This 2012-2013 schedule will present a few challenges while allowing the team the time it needs to gather its bearings in the post-Festus era. Vanderbilt will have to adjust their game in order to play without a marquee center for the first time in five years. They'll also have to figure out how to replace the scoring of John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor, along with the rebounding of Lance Goulbourne and Steve Tchiengang. There are plenty of moving parts that need to be put in place, and games against teams like Alabama A&M and Cornell are good places to start.
Check out the full out-of-conference schedule after the jump...
|11/10/12||vs. Nicholls State||Nashville, Tenn.|
|11/16/12||at Oregon||Eugene, Ore.|
|Old Spice Classic|
|11/22/12||vs. Davidson||Orlando, Fla.|
|11/23/12||West Virginia/Marist||Orlando, Fla.|
|12/1/12||vs. Villanova||Nashville, Tenn.|
|12/6/12||at Xavier||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|12/15/12||vs. Alabama A&M||Nashville, Tenn.|
|12/17/12||vs. Cornell||Nashville, Tenn.|
|12/21/12||vs. Middle Tennessee State||Nashville, Tenn.|
|12/29/12||vs. Butler||Nashville, Tenn.|
|1/2/13||vs. William & Mary||Nashville, Tenn.|