Of his senior class collectively, Head Coach Kevin Stallings said, "As a group, they've been instrumental in getting this program rebuilt and having the success we're having this year. Each has done it in his own way.
"The attitude has been just great. Their work ethic has been great. They have a tremendous bond, a closeness about them. I hope we can finish the season in a great way... they deserve it for all the hard work they've put in for us."
Vitals: 6-10, 249 lbs.
No. 35 Matt Freije
Hometown: Overland Park, Kan.
Senior statistics:19.2 points per game (leads SEC), 5.8 rebounds. Made 82% of free throws.
|AP photo by Mark Humphrey.|
Coach Stallings says: "I don't think there's another player in this league this year who's been as valuable to his team as Matt Freije... all this success and fame hasn't changed him at all. He's handled it all great."
Why he'll never be forgotten: Where to start? Freije is the all-time Vandy scoring leader, leads the SEC in scoring this season (19.2 points) and is a strong candidate for SEC Player of the Year. He's up for a number of post-season honors, including the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award, the Rupp All-America Team and the Senior CLASS Award. He's been called "the perfect mixture of brains and basketball" and "college basketball's answer to the NBA's Dirk Nowitzki." But Vanderbilt fans will also remember Freije for his selflessness, his commitment to team goals, and his humility. Case in point: six points short of the school scoring record in a Feb. 21 home game vs. LSU, he assented to sitting the bench rather than running up the score for the sake of the record.
Most memorable moments: Again, where to start? His 32 points, including 18-of-18 from the line, helped bring down Indiana (Nov. 24, 2003); his 31 points in a 94-91 upset of a ranked Georgia team (Jan. 29, 2003); and on and on one could go. For the better part of four years, he was his team's most reliable scorer. He's been in double figures 88 times, tallied 20 or more points 32 times, and four times gone over 30 points.
Quintessential quote: "Our seniors have put a lot of pressure on ourselves, just because we're Coach Stallings' first recruiting class. He brought us here to do a job, and this is our last year to do it... [Playing in the NCAA Tournament] would be a dream come true. It's something that I've set as a goal for myself when I came here, and that's how we seniors want to be remembered. That's what you play college basketball for, to play in a tournament. It would be a big deal for us."
Vitals: 6-5, 215
No. 24 Scott Hundley
Hometown: Georgetown, Ky.
Senior statistics:7.7 points per game, 4.4 rebounds. Shot 53% from the field, 83% on free throws.
Career statistics: 4.6 points per game, 2.9 rebounds. 519 points, 326 rebounds, 146 assists.
Coach Stallings says: "[Scott Hundley] is the reboundingest son-of-a-gun for a guy that is 6-5. He shows a unique ability to rebound the ball for a guy his size."
Why he'll never be forgotten: Hundley was the "energizer", the blue-collar swingman who always seemed to raise the level of play a few notches when he came off the bench. Never much of a scorer, Hundley specialized in the little things, like assists, anticipating rebounds, and taking charges. He has started only ten times in his four-year career-- but in his senior year he became the "Papa Grizzly", the leader of an enthusiastic bench corps that prided itself on coming in and elevating the level of play.
Most memorable moments: Sank two free throws to ice a 66-60 victory over Kentucky (Jan. 31, 2004); scored 13 points and pulled down 8 rebounds (5 offensive) in an 83-63 rout of Michigan (Dec. 6, 2003); overcame the flu to score 18 points and get 7 rebounds in a 75-68 win over Ole Miss (Feb. 1, 2003).
Quintessential quote: "I enjoy coming off the bench. It gives me an opportunity to get a look at the game and see what the team needs me to do. [The coaches] needed someone to spark the offense. I tried to get into the gaps and penetrate, and give the open man the ball. I think I fit the role because I just enjoy it."
Vitals: 6-2, 190
No. 11 Russell Lakey
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Senior statistics:3.8 points per game, 3.6 assists, 1.6 turnovers, 3.1 rebounds. Shot 79% on free throws.
Career statistics: 4.6 points per game, 3.2 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 2.9 rebounds. 471 total points, 330 assists, 153 steals.
Coach Stallings says: "Russell has been hampered by injury throughout his career here, but he's really playing at a level above anything we've seen him do since he's been here."
Why he'll never be forgotten: Beaten out in his senior season at point guard by the talented Mario Moore, Lakey fought back to win a starting spot as a two-guard, and his appearance in the starting lineup coincided with Vandy's late-season surge. As a freshman he won the starting point guard position, and despite a foot injury in his sophomore season, he developed into one of the league's best on-ball defenders. Lakey is one of only five players in school history to record more than 300 assists and 150 steals in a career. He ranks No. 7 on the school's all-time steals list, No. 8 all-time in assists.
Most memorable moments: Lakey's steal vs. Cliff Hawkins late in Vandy's 66-60 win over Kentucky (Jan. 31, 2004) will go down in the annals of Vanderbilt basketball. Though not always known for his shooting prowess, Lakey nailed crucial late-game 3-pointers that helped seal wins over LSU (Feb. 6, 2002), Auburn (Jan. 7, 2004) and Ole Miss (Feb. 25, 2004).
Quintessential quote: "Memorial Gymnasium, I think, is the greatest gymnasium in the whole country. The whole atmosphere... the seating for the benches adds another whole aura. The Memorial Magic, I've seen it happen a couple of times. I think it's just the greatest place to play."
Vitals: 6-10, 258
No. 42 Martin Schnedlitz
Hometown: Leoben, Austria (by way of Houston, Tex.)
|VUAD photo by Neil Brake.|
Career statistics: 1.5 points per game, 0.8 rebounds in 4.2 minutes of play.
Coach Stallings says: "Martin hasn't gotten to play a whole lot, but his attitude has been just unbelievably good."
Why he'll never be forgotten: By all rights, Schnedlitz should have given up sports after tearing his ACL for the second time. Yet in spite of a knee that will likely never be completely healed, and despite dim hopes for playing time, he persevered and never quit. He has never started a game for Vanderbilt, has appeared in only 31 games in four years, and has never played more than 11 minutes in a game. But loyal fans learned to appreciate his tenacity and courage in the face of pain and discouragement, and his opportunities to score never failed to bring fans to their feet.
Most memorable moments: Had 6 points and 6 rebounds vs. UT-Martin (Nov. 29, 2003); sank 5-of-7 free throws at the O'Connell Center in a road loss to Florida (Feb. 9, 2002).
Quintessential quote: "They told me two years ago that my basketball career was going to be over, that my knees couldn't take it any more, and as for my future, it wouldn't be good to play basketball any more. But I stuck with it because the guys I came in with, I care about so much. I said I wanted to finish my career with these guys, Matt Freije, Scott Hundley and Russell Lakey. They're such great guys, and I don't want to let them down. Even if I can't be out on the court with them, I can still bring leadership, and show how it's supposed to be done off the court. I can still do all I can off the court to help motivate the team."
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