Commodores hope to tame Cy Alexander's Tigers

Riding high after an impressive performance against Michigan, Vanderbilt faces its second crosstown foe of the season Wednesday in Tennessee State. The Commodores (5-0) tip off against Coach Cy Alexander's Tigers (1-4) at 7 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium (CSS-TV locally, 650 WSM-AM). VeeMan takes a look at the Tigers' roster and lets VandyMania readers know what to expect.

Last Saturday Vanderbilt came up with its most impressive performance so far this year, defeating the hitherto unbeaten Michigan Wolverines 83-63 in Nashville. It was a much easier win than anyone had anticipated. Michigan trailed almost the entire game, making just one run, right before halftime, but steadily fell out of contention in the second half. As usual, Matt Freije led the Commodores in scoring with 22, and Scott Hundley contributed another excellent performance (13 points, 8 rebounds). Julian Terrell was the third Commodore in double digits, scoring 11 points, most of them coming early in the game.

As expected, the Tennessee State University Tigers are having a rocky year. After their disastrous 2-25 showing in 2002-03 and the firing of Head Coach Nolan Richardson III, no one was/is expecting new coach Cy Alexander to turn things around in his first season. The Tigers' only win to date is over Trevecca Nazarene (not a Division I team), 73-71. They have lost to Tennessee (81-56), Chattanooga (93-86), Fisk (65-63), and Georgia Tech (94-43). The Tigers will do well to scratch out three or four wins this season.

The leading scorer and rebounder is 6-foot-6 junior Roshaun Bowens (right, 17.6 points, 8.8 rebounds per game). He is an active, wiry 175-pounder who scored 15.4 ppg last season. Because of TSU's lack of size, he usually is in the position of having to cope with heavier, stronger players.

6-4 freshman Bruce Price and 6-3 senior Garrett Richardson (nephew of Nolan Richardson III) are the two other main point producers. Their scoring averages are, respectively, 12.6 (the same as last year) and 13.2 ppg. Richardson has not yet recovered the form he displayed as a freshman and sophomore. Coach Alexander believes that Price will be "an impact player" at TSU; originally he was headed for St. John's to play for Coach Mike Jarvis.

The only real size in the front line is provided by 6-10, 270-pound senior Cedric Bryson. Bryson didn't accomplish much in 2002-03, but has been playing about 25 minutes per game this season, scoring 5.8 ppg, and is the second leading rebounder (average of 5.6).

The point guard is 5-10 sophomore Adrian Pritchett of Madison, Ala. He is scoring 5.8 ppg and averages about three assists. However, Richardson has been making over five assists per game and is a more experienced playmaker.

6-5 junior Jeremy Jackson is the substitute that sees the most time. A pair of freshman, 6-3 Orlando Wright and 6-8 Courtney Bohanon are the second and third men off the bench. Also possibly seeing action will be 6-0 junior Brandon Lockridge, 6-0 sophomore Turron Wilson, and 6-7 sophomore Reshawne Bowers, none of whom have played much.

The Tigers were badly outrebounded by both Tennessee and Georgia Tech, their toughest opponents to date. The team shot only 31.1% against Tennessee and 27% against Tech. The Tigers have not turned the ball over excessively.

Frankly, this is a game that Vanderbilt should win by nearly any margin the players might wish. However, if the Commodores come out flat, they could succeed in turning what should be their easiest game to date into something more difficult. Considering their greater size and superior experience, and the fact that they undoubtedly have the better players, the Dores should win by 20 to 35 points, or more.


Photos by John Amis, Associated Press.

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