At the end of last season, Kevin Stallings was feeling pretty good. An expected rebuilding year had resulted in a 16-17 season, but Vanderbilt won six of its final eight and reached the third round of the SEC tournament. Hope for the 2013-14 season was shiny.
Now it’s about as shiny as the prospect of Tara Reid being named Best Actress for “Sharknado.”
Tuesday brought a close loss to Alabama as Vanderbilt opened the SEC season. Wednesday brought a crippling blow – leading scorer Eric McClellan is suspended for the rest of the season due to a violation of the school’s academic policy. While he is expected to be reinstated this summer, McClellan is gone for this year, leaving Vanderbilt with seven scholarship players and nine overall players.
McClellan was also discovered to have been arrested on Sept. 17 for misdemeanor theft. Stallings said that he just found out about that at the same time as the academic issue.
Never miss a local story.
The Commodores lost Josh Henderson to a knee injury eight games into the season and are now without McClellan. Walk-ons Nathan Watkins and Carter Josephs do play, but only average 4.6 combined minutes. Rod Odom is now the team’s leading scorer, with 13.8 points per game.
Vanderbilt is in the same position that Mississippi State was last year. The Bulldogs dealt with so many injuries that they finished the season with six healthy scholarship players. That didn’t stop them from beating USC in the SEC tournament.
But, different year, different team. Obviously, USC has a lot more to worry about than one game and can’t go into any SEC game thinking that it’s an automatic win. Still, USC does get the Commodores at home in the only game they play them this year. By the time Feb. 12 rolls around, that could be a game to save the season.
Arkansas lost a road game. News at 11.
How about Georgia knocking off Missouri, in overtime on the road? Big-time win for the Bulldogs, and to see Mark Fox bawling on the bench afterward (Fox lost his father a few days ago)was another one of those things that makes college basketball so gut-wrenching at times. It’s an emotional game, and you can’t hit somebody like in football, so you have to deal with it the best you can.
Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState