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Posts Tagged ‘Vanderbilt Commodores’

Yes, Kasi, Vanderbilt Is 5-0

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 5, 2008

One thing about America is this: they love a great underdog story.

Whether it’s the New York Giants beating the New England Cheaters in this year’s Super Bowl or last September when the Appalachian State Mountaineers shocked the Michigan Wolverines, football in general over the last few years has given us plenty of surprises.

But Saturday night, in front of  a national audience and a sellout crowd at Vanderbilt Stadium, another surprising story took place as the Vanderbilt Commodores (that’s right, Vanderbilt) defeated my beloved Auburn Tigers 14-13 to move to 5-0, their best start since World War II.

Did I mention that for the first time since my birth year (1984) the ‘Dores were ranked heading into the game?

Number 19, to be exact.

And while Auburn and their horrendous offense trekked out to a 13-0 lead, many of the faithful in Nashville began to have the same feeling that Cub fans like fellow TNB scribe Bob Swerski had going into this postseason.

Obviously, while the feeling quickly died away as Vanderbilt’s defense stepped and made plays and backup quarterback MacKensie Adams, filling in for injured starter Chris Nickson who aggravated his shoulder in the beginning of the game, made sure that the Vanderbilt football curse, real or imagined, stay at bay for at least another week.

And when Auburn tried to come up with a game-winning drive and make it 14 straight against the Commodores, Myron Lewis made two signature plays that slammed the door on the Tigers, including an interception of a pass by Chris Todd with a little over 2 minutes to go in the game.

Talk about Music City Miracle II.

What was amazing about this win over the Plainsmen was the fact that bowl representatives from every corner of the world was there to see if Vanderbilt, long known as the butt of jokes in the SEC and the college football world, could be for real.

If there was any notion of how real this Vanderbilt squad, let it be known that should Vanderbilt drown out the cowbells in Starkville this Saturday, Vanderbilt will have the magical six wins they’ve been craving for for 26 years.

And at a time like this maybe Vanderbilt, like the other state schools in the SEC football, rightfully deserves their moment in the sun.

It’s been 26 years in the making.

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Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

25th Avenue South Blues

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on February 13, 2008

memorial-gym-wide.jpg

Before Tuesday’s game against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Kentucky was sitting pretty in second place in the SEC East with big wins over Vanderbilt and Tennessee at home and seemed prepared to turn the corner in what had already been, for some, a lost season in Year One of the Billy Clyde Era in Lexington.

Vanderbilt, on the other hand, was trying to build on what had already been a historic season on West End Avenue, reaching 20 wins faster than any Vanderbilt squad in school history and trying to make noise in the race for the SEC East crown.

Tuesday night, the Kentucky squad that won five straight entering the game against Vanderbilt ran into something that has snake bitten the team for the past five years.

Memorial magic.

Vanderbilt came out Tuesday night like a team on a mission, jumping out to a 41-11 lead at halftime and refusing to let Patrick Patterson and company come back into the fold, something that has not happened a lot for the ‘Dores lately in games against South Carolina and Georgia where they took the foot off the pedal and let teams have a chance to win.

Then in the second half, Kentucky just self-destructed; they self-destructed to the point where Billy Clyde received a technical foul after Joe Crawford was called for a charge early on in the second half.

Sad, right?

This game was supposed to be a turning point for Kentucky, mainly because it was on National television and 25th Avenue South was going to be rocking.

But instead it looked like the debacle that I remembered from last year when Cincinnati came into FedEx Forum and got stomped all over the place by the Tigers, so bad that the good people at ESPN cut away to the USC-Oregon game.

Obviously, on Tuesday night, ESPN had no other choice when it came to what happened in Nashville.

The best game of the evening was already played up Interstate 65 in West Lafayette.

Posted in Kentucky Wildcats, NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on 25th Avenue South Blues

Great Time To Be A Basketball Fan In Tennessee

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 10, 2007

Last season, the state of Tennessee rejoiced as each Grand Division was well-represented by one school in the NCAA Tournament’s “Sweet 16” as Memphis, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee made the round of 16, which ranks as one of the rare times in this state’s history that three teams from the Volunteer State accomplished that feat in the same season.

And although the Tigers again carried the banner of the state by advancing to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row, the incredible season of basketball in the Volunteer State was supposed to be nothing more than a once-in-a-lifetime event.

But so far this year, the Vols, Tigers, and Commodores are again giving basketball fans in the state something to cheer about as the three schools are ranked in the top 25 and are a combined 24-1 at the end of action on Sunday.

Not to mention that one of my former classmates at Southwest, Lester Hudson, who is now at Tennessee-Martin is among the nation’s leaders in scoring at 26.4 points per game and was the focal point of a recent story that ran in the Commercial Appeal last week.

For Tennessee, who is the odds-on favorite to win the SEC East, the key to their success is the play of senior standout Chris Lofton, who along with JaJuan Smith, had a hand in denying UT-Chattanooga’s chance at an upset bid last Tuesday in Chattanooga by scoring 16 and 13, respectively. Not only that, sophomore Wayne Chism is quickly emerging into one of the premier big men in the SEC by leading the team in rebounds and blocks.

Vanderbilt’s success this year came as bit of a surprise after losing former Ridgeway standout Derrick Byars to the NBA, who along with Shan Foster led the Commodores to the Sweet 16 last season. Although Foster returned to West End Avenue, the cupboard for the most part according to many SEC basketball experts was bare, save for the emergence of LSU transfer Ross Neltner, who gained valuable playing time last year off the bench.

But despite the loss of a few key players for Vanderbilt, the Commodores are again off to another great start on West End Avenue, bringing their record to 9-0 after beating neighborhood rival Lipscomb on Saturday night at Memorial Gym thanks in part to the play of A.J. Oglivy and Foster.

Next up for the ‘Dores will be a trip to Chicago to face a pissed-off DePaul squad that got crushed by an excellent Kansas team at Allen Fieldhouse and then a break from the season to take finals and prep up for the start of the conference portion of the season with games against another crosstown foe in Tennessee State and a showdown against Lester Hudson and Tennessee-Martin four days after Christmas.

In West Tennessee, the Tigers are the talk of the nation thanks in part to the play of super-freshmen Derrick Rose who has lived up to the preseason hype as the Tigers are #2 in the nation and 7-0 going into their game with Middle Tennessee on Saturday afternoon in Nashville, which will be a mismatch on paper as the Blue Raiders sit at 2-5 on the season and is need of something to turn the season around before the start of conference play.

If Memphis laxes against the Blue Raiders, chances are the Tigers could be upset if they don’t play with the level of intensity that Calipari has preached about since their lackluster showing against Arkansas State before Thanksgiving.

But given the way they’ve played against USC, that seems to be a far-fetched idea that is only a product of my imagination.

Then again, you never know.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Great Time To Be A Basketball Fan In Tennessee