Skip to content

The Vanderbilt Hustler | Memorial Minutes: Cementing a Profitable Tradition

Regardless of shedding three projected starters within the preseason, regardless of coming again on the highway in opposition to Columbia, regardless of totally dominating Tarleton State on Tuesday and regardless of getting out to the group’s first 4-0 begin since 2014, there may be one widespread theme working all through Vanderbilt girls’s basketball program.

Shea Ralph is not happy. In reality, she’s form of pissed off.

“I used to be not pleased with how we began the sport in the present day, much like how we began at Columbia,” Ralph stated after the group’s win over Tarleton State. “As we transfer ahead, that is not the successful edge. One of many issues we talked about in shoot round was that we act like winners. It by no means issues who the opponent is. We now have to start out higher; we play basketball to a sure commonplace right here at Vanderbilt.”

Consider, Ralph’s crew jumped out to a 9-0 begin in opposition to the Texans. They led wire-to-wire, had been up double-digits by the center of the primary quarter and held Tarleton State below 50 factors. They’ve gained their first 4 video games by a median of twenty-two factors. To Ralph, the exhibiting to this point has been a lackadaisical effort absent of the psychological focus required to win championships.

“We’re engaged on altering that mentality because it pertains to our program. After we play Vanderbilt basketball, I imagine we will compete with anybody,” Ralph stated.

It is that very mindset that has fueled the Commodores to a 4-0 begin, shattered public expectations to this point and permeated the Vanderbilt basketball tradition. In simply two years, Ralph’s fiery demeanor has remodeled this program from SEC laughing inventory to a sleeping big beginning to wrestle awake.

That progress has been manifestly evident because the Commodores have settled into the Ralph model of basketball: suffocating protection, a bullying offensive fashion and a next-man up mentality. As superb because the outcomes have been to date, Vanderbilt’s schedule will solely get more durable as they head to Cancun for Thanksgiving earlier than stepping into their rugid SEC schedule within the new yr.

Do not suppose Shea Ralph would not know that, although. Overlook dominating non-conference opponents in November; Ralph is concentrated on constructing for January and past. And for the remainder of the league, and the nation, that ought to be rattling scary.

New faces

After a deep WNIT run a yr augVanderbilt was excited to welcome again three starters in jordyn cambridge, Iyana Moore and Kaylon Smith. One drawback: All three suffered season-ending accidents earlier than the group performed a recreation.

Even with Cambridge, Moore and Smith, there have been going to be plenty of new faces this season for Ralph’s program. With out them, Vanderbilt followers are getting used to these faces sooner moderately than later.

First, there’s the pair of transfers in Ciaja Harbison (St. Louis) and Marnelle Garraud (Boston School). To say the early returns from the graduate transfers have been fruitful could be an understatement.

Harbison leads the group in scoring at 17 factors per recreation, together with a 27-point outburst to hold the Commodores at Columbia. She’s been an absolute tone-setter on the level guard place, averaging 6.5 assists and a pair of.5 steals per recreation to date. The veteran presence at level guard has steadied an in any other case younger Vanderbilt lineup.

Garraud, for her half, has been nothing wanting the group’s Robin/Scottie Pippen (to make use of a Vanderbilt reference) to this point. The BC switch is averaging 12.8 factors per recreation, good for second on the group. She’s been Vanderbilt’s most constant deep menace, turning the three-ball into an absurd 52.2% clip to this point. She’s effectively over the 40/50/90 threshold—a standard indicator of a deadeye shooter measuring area aim/three level/free throw proportion—at a 46/52/100 mark.

“I might say we have been strong when it comes to the issues that I’ve requested him to do,” Ralph added on the veterans. “Once more, I would like our effort to be extra constant, however our veterans have performed onerous for probably the most half. However on the finish of the day, we’d like contributions from everybody. So whoever steps up, I am glad [whether it is a] Veteran, younger man, it would not actually matter how outdated you’re. However proper now you understand the blokes which have been right here for the final yr and a half, they perceive my expectations. I feel they’ve executed a fairly good job”

Then, there’s the proficient freshman class, together with top-100 recruits Ryanne Allen and Amauri Williams. Allen (9.0 factors per recreation) and Williams (8.0) are fourth and fifth on the group in scoring, respectively, and have introduced a degree of toughness and depth down low that Vanderbilt hasn’t had in a lot of years. I would be remiss to not point out freshman Jada Brown as effectively, who has began every of the Commodores’ 4 video games to date, offering one other ball-handling and defensive choice for Ralph up high.

Allen, particularly, has proven flashes of changing into a authentic stretch 4 that may create all types of mismatches for a protection. She is hitting 42% of her pictures from deep and hasn’t missed a free throw but this season, showcasing that her taking pictures stroke of her will be replicable over a full season. Allen poured in 17 factors in opposition to samford and 13 factors in opposition to Tarleton State.

Similar swagger

Regardless of the inflow of recent expertise, Ralph’s second group has retained the identical stylistic traits that helped his first group exceed expectations and make a postseason run. They’re imply. They’re relentless defensively. They’ll bully you within the publish. And they are going to hold coming to you for 40 minutes.

That mindset begins with Sacha Washington, the sophomore and one of many few returners for this group. Washington has blossomed to start out her sophomore season after coming into her personal de ella within the again half of final yr’s marketing campaign. The 6’2” bruiser is averaging 12 factors per recreation and leads the group at 7.3 rebounds per recreation. She additionally leads the group in blocks with seven.

Higher but, Washington has instilled the Ralph tradition of toughness for the newcomers, notably with fellow publish gamers Allen and Williams.

By 4 video games, the defensive effort—led by Washington—has been complete and suffocating as Vanderbilt has held opponents to 58.3 factors per recreation. They’ve compelled opponents into 20 turnovers per recreation and managed six steals and three blocks per recreation. Like Washington, returnees Demi Washington and Yaubryon Chambers have helped carry over that nasty defensive perspective from final yr’s group to this one. Washington (8) and Chambers (6) are second and third on the group in steals.

With a brand new forged of characters within the fold, Ralph’s squad stays the identical group of ball-hawking scrappers hell-bent on making enjoying Vanderbilt an exhausting expertise for any opponent. That is an encouraging signal of tangible cultural progress outweighing roster turnover early within the Ralph period.

on deck

Vanderbilt has undoubtedly exceeded expectations early in November. However, as Ralph alluded to, none of meaning something but.

The highway will solely get more durable for Vanderbilt. Up subsequent on the schedule is 2 extra residence tune-ups earlier than the squad heads south for the Thanksgiving vacation. The Commodores will play host Austin Peay and St Joseph’s earlier than the top of the week. Whereas winnable, that may mark 4 video games over a seven day span for Ralph’s crew. From there, Vanderbilt will head to Mexico for the Ladies’s Cancun Problem. They may face off in opposition to North Carolina State on Thanksgiving to open up the match earlier than competing in opposition to Northern Iowa the day after.

The challenges will ramp up for this Vanderbilt group over their subsequent 4 video games. Whatever the final result, we’ll know far more about this group by the point the subsequent Memorial Minutes is launched.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *