If a passerby had stopped at Memorial Gym on Wednesday afternoon and taken a peek inside, he would have seen the women's basketball team on the court. If he counted the players in action, he might have concluded that team practices were underway.Follow @wbbVandyMania
But he would have been wrong.
The team has been busy with workouts, including workouts attended by all the members of the team, but the first official practice won't take place until Friday afternoon, a few hours before Vanderbilt hosts Memorial Madness at 8 p.m.
So, if it wasn't a team practice, what was it?
It was a "team workout."
Under the current NCAA rules, 40 days before a team's first game, the team can begin team practices. Prior to that time, all required activities for players are limited to 8 hours per week, and workouts with the coaches are limited to a maximum of 2 hours per week. After the 40 day window opens, the NCAA allows 20 hours per week of required activities, and a practice can be as long as four hours. In addition, during that 40-day window, a team can hold no more than 30 practices.
For Vanderbilt the count begins on Friday. That first official practice will be the culmination of a gradual "building up" process that began at the beginning of the semester with just weight lifting. After that, "individuals" – workouts with up to four players and their position coach – were added, then team workouts mainly in the half court, then team workouts with more fullcourt drills added. When practice begins on Friday, there will be a lot more fullcourt drills and more competition drills than have taken place in the team workouts, more fundamentals -- in short, all the usual components of a full-fledged practice.
After Wednesday's team workout, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb seemed pleased with her team.
"We talk a lot about body language and improving from last year as far as our physical and mental toughness, just carrying ourselves tougher and pushing through when we're tired, having a lot more energy verbally and physically," she said.
"That's what we've looked for with these last couple of workouts, and today was our best. I loved the energy, loved the coachability, the making of changes, and the listening has been very very good. "
Friday will be a busy day for the team, with practice in the afternoon followed by Memorial Madness in the evening. The combination will make the day exciting for the team, but there's also a downside. With only eleven players on the roster this season, keeping players healthy is a major priority and that will limit what the players are able to do on Friday evening.
"We love the idea of Memorial Madness, and we want to be a big part of the festivities so we're going to do some contests, have fun with it, sign a lot of autographs, and be part of the spirit and the energy and excitement, " said Coach Balcomb.
"But talking to our trainer, we're not in a position where we can get back on the court after practice to scrimmage -- that would only do damage," she said. "We'd love to do it, but this year is tough. If I had 15 kids and they were all healthy, it'd be different."
Doors for Memorial Madness open at 8 p.m. Both the men's team and the women's team will sign autographs for about 45 minutes before the other activities, which will include team introductions, a short scrimmage by the men's team, a slam dunk contest, and a 3-point contest. Admission is free.
News and Notes
Flulapalooza: The women's basketball staff joined forces with thousands of other Vanderbilt employees to obliterate the current world record for the total number of vaccinations given in an eight-hour period. The previous record stood at 6,215, and in eight hours on Wednesday, Vanderbilt medical staff administered 12,647 influenza vaccinations. The chance to break the record helped to generate excitement but in a more serious vein, Flulapalooza allowed the university to test their mass vaccination plan.
Staff Additions: Vanderbilt announced today that Rebecca Silinski, a 2011 graduate and four-year member of the women's basketball team has been named Graduate Assistant for this year while she attends graduate school in the Department of Human and Organizational Development.
Chanell Thomas, who worked as a student manager with the basketball team as an undergraduate and as a Graduate Administrative Assistant while attending graduate school, has been named Director of Basketball Operations.
In addition, Michael Scholl, who comes to Vanderbilt by way of Providence College and Notre Dame, has joined the staff of the Communications Department and will assume responsibility for women's basketball.
VU WBB: Memorial Madness Approaches
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