Women's Hoops: Liberty preview

The #4-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores (21-9 overall, 9-5 SEC) will face a tall order in their first round NCAA game in Norfolk on Saturday afternoon against the #13-seeded Lady Flames of Liberty University (26-3, Big South 14-0).

Against most teams in the country, 6'6 Vanderbilt center Chantelle Anderson is the tallest player on the court, but on Saturday, Liberty's 6'8 sophomore center Katie Feenstra will hold that honor. And when she goes to the bench, her 6'7 older sister, Meribeth Anderson, is waiting in the wings to take over.

"She's leading their team in rebounding and scoring," said Vanderbilt Assistant Coach Kristin Schneider after breaking down film of Liberty's games. "So she's a big part of their offense but they also have a good complement of guards, too. They have a couple that can shoot a three and a couple that can drive to the basket."

Besides Feenstra, who's averaging 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, another name that jumps out is Kristal Tharp, who is second leading scorer with 12.1 points per game and is shooting a healthy .385 from 3-point range. But perhaps the most striking statistic is that 11 Lady Flames average at least 10 minutes of playing time per game.

"They're a very deep team," said Schneider. "They've got a lot of players, and they all play. They're very well balanced. They all know their job and they work well together as a team."

Offensively, the Lady Flames like to pound the ball inside to Feenstra out of their half-court offense, but will run when they get numbers. While Schneider says that Liberty doesn't shoot the ball as well as some of the teams Vanderbilt has played this year, they are very adept at grabbing their own misses and scoring on their second and third shots. They're out-rebounding their opponents by 11 boards a game.

"Probably the biggest key for us is that we need to check out," said Schneider. "We need to rebound. If we can rebound, I think we can get our break going and we can get some easy shots."

Defensively, Schneider says that game film showed a lot of 2-3 zone. "I have seen some man," she said, "and sometimes they'll press a little bit to change the tempo of the game, but it looks like I'm guessing 2-3 zone."

As for those tall centers that she'll be facing, Chantelle Anderson says that they've helped her to focus on the immediate task at hand rather than looking ahead.

."When I found out they had a 6'8 center and a 6'7 center, it got my attention," she said after practice on Wednesday. "So I think has definitely helped, and I'm really excited. Although I think we have the advantage in this matchup, I'm really excited to prove it."

Anderson and the rest of the Commodores will get their chance on Saturday afternoon. The first game between the host Old Dominion Lady Monarchs and the Boston College Eagles tips off at 10 a.m. CT, and the Vanderbilt/Liberty game follows an hour after the first game is over. The game will be televised on ESPN2. The winners will advance to a second round matchup Monday night at 6 p.m.

Liberty Schedule/results

* * * * *

Commodores Daily Top Stories