South Carolina basketball beat writer David Cloninger looks at every other team in the SEC as the season approaches
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Coach (record at school, years; overall record, years): Kevin Stallings (292-192, 16th year; 415-255, 22nd year)
2013-14 record (SEC finish): 15-16 (7-11)
2013-14 postseason: None
He’s outta here: Eric McClellan (transferred to Gonzaga, 14.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Rod Odom (senior, 13.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg); Kyle Fuller (senior, 11.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg); Dai-Jon Parker (transferred to Indianapolis, 8.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Rob Cross (senior, 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg)
He’s here (freshman unless otherwise noted): 6-3 G Shelton Mitchell; 6-3 G Wade Baldwin; 6-5 G/F Matthew Fisher-Davis; 6-2 G Riley LaChance; 6-6 F Jeff Roberson; 6-1 G Phillip McGloin; 6-4 G Nolan Cressler (transfer from Cornell, will sit out this year)
Top returners: 6-10 C Damian Jones (11.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg); 6-7 F James Siakam (7.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg); 6-11 C Josh Henderson (6.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
What’s going on up there?
Vanderbilt has been a model of consistency since Stallings arrived. The Commodores had been to five NCAA tournaments in six years, but after a 25-win season in 2011-12, Vandy has slipped to two straight losing seasons. Much of it has been because Stallings has had to make decisions he hasn’t had to make before.
“When you’re in this situation, you just have tough decisions you have to make, and tough things happen,” Stallings said at SEC Media Days. “We’ve had some attrition and most of that’s been, I guess, on my side.”
Stallings was forced to suspend leading scorer Kedren Johnson for academics before last season, and Johnson was not asked back to school for this season. Also before last season, Shelton Jeter transferred and Kevin Bright went to play pro ball in his native Germany.
McClellan was leading the team in scoring but was dismissed from the team in January. Then over the summer, Parker was also booted.
Vanderbilt is starting over for yet another season, with six freshmen. The Commodores do have an amazing talent in Jones, but he’ll be surrounded by very little experience this year.
“Some of it maybe hasn’t been (easy), but nevertheless, you do what you do, you make decisions on what’s the best interests of the program, and that’s what we do,” Stallings said. “We have high standards and high expectations of our players and they know on a daily basis on no uncertain terms that those have to be met.”
Stallings will start Mitchell at the point. Mitchell’s backups are also freshmen outside of walk-on Carter Josephs, who averages eight minutes per game. “Unless somebody drops out of the sky, unless God sends us someone that’s got some experience, we’ll start a freshman every game this season at point guard,” Stallings said.
It’s appearing to be another .500 year in Nashville. Will Stallings’ long history save him after a third straight losing season?
Coach (record at school, years; overall record, years): Melanie Balcomb (277-119, 13th year; 440-223, 22nd year)
2013-14 record (SEC finish): 18-13 (7-9)
2013-14 postseason: NCAA tournament
She’s outta here: Christina Foggie (senior, 19.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg); Jasmine Lister (senior, 13.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg); Kylee Smith (transferred to Belmont, 6.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg); Kady Schrann (transferred to Florida Gulf Coast, 4.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
She’s here (freshman unless otherwise noted): 5-10 G Rachel Bell; 6-3 F Khaleann Caron-Goudreau; 6-3 F Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau; 5-11 G Christa Reed; 5-8 G Paris Kea
Top returners: 5-9 G Rebekah Dahlman (11.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg); 6-1 F Marque’es Webb (7.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg); 5-10 G Morgan Batey (6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
Where are Foggie and Lister?
The pair that sounded like a 1980s cop-duo sitcom are gone after what seemed like 12 years each in uniform, signaling a new look for Vanderbilt. Used to running through its two guards, the Commodores will look to have a height-based attack this year.
Dahlman returns after missing the final 22 games last year due to a blood clot, while the 6-foot-4 Kendall Shaw is back after missing the entire season with a knee injury. Balcomb went to Canada to get the Caron-Goudreau twins and she’ll add them around what should be a solid post game.
Vanderbilt squeaked into the NCAA tournament last year despite losing its final three games and then being bounced in the first round of the SEC tournament. The Commodores only won once in their final nine games. Balcomb had never had a season with less than 20 wins until last year and not having to depend on a short-handed team should make sure she won’t repeat it.
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