Preview: Vanderbilt-American University Game

In most seasons, the Vanderbilt Commodores play only two or three schools that they never met before in men's basketball. This year they have had seven "new" opponents (Liberty, Connecticut, Hampton, Monmouth, Cal Poly, Southeast Missouri, and Centenary), and now meet one more, and the last, the American University Eagles.

American belongs now to the Patriot Conference, having moved this year from the Colonial Athletic Association.  The head coach is Jeff Jones, who served a stint at Virginia in that same capacity.

In their last year in the Colonial AA, the Eagles had a record of 7-20 (3-13 in conference play).  This year, they have a record of 3-5, with wins over St. Francis (PA), Fairleigh Dickinson, and North Carolina A & T, and losses to Maryland, College of Charleston, Pennsylvania, Radford, and Howard.  They do not play again until the Vanderbilt game.

American played well at home to give Pennsylvania and College of Charleston close games, and the wins over St. Francis (PA) and North Carolina A & T were on the road.  Only Maryland has outclassed them, beating the Eagles by 30 points at College Park MD.

American's star player is 6'9", 230 lbs senior Patrick Doctor, who is scoring 13.3 ppg and is averaging 7 rebounds.  His scoring is done mostly on the inside.  He can block shots and has eleven of them so far.

The second leading scorer is 6'4" junior shooting guard Steven Miles, who transferred in from Coastal Carolina.  His averages are 12.1 ppg and 4.3 rpg and he is second on the team in assists.

Glenn Stokes, 5'9" junior point guard, leads the team in assists and steals and scores 6 ppg.  He is transfer from Tallahassee Community College.

The other two starters are 6'6" senior Vladimir Buscaglia and 6'8" junior Keith Gray.  Buscaglia, a native of Switzerland, is third leading scorer (8.9 ppg).  Gray is scoring 6.6 ppg and is almost equaling Doctor in grabbing rebounds, with an average of 6.9.

The sixth man is Nick Boyd, 6'7" junior transfer from Essex Community College, who is "expected to bring athletism to the frontcourt,"  and has brought 8.4 ppg and 3.5 rebounds.  Boyd, Buscaglia, and Miles are all competent long-range shooters, and are responsible for the sudden improvement in three-pointers made in the last two games (14 of 23 against North Carolina A & T and 9 of 22 against Howard).

Several other players may see action, including 6'3" freshman Jason Thomas (2.3 ppg), 6'0" junior Demek Adams (1.5 ppg), 6'6" senior Brian Williams (4.3 ppg), 6'10" senior Joe Casper (0.7 ppg), 6'6" junior Ricardas Patiejunas (3.0 ppg), and 5'10" freshman Ryan Graham (4.0 ppg in the two games in which he has played).

With advantages in height, shooting ability, and manpower, this would appear to be another game in which Vanderbilt, playing at home, should outclass its opponent.  In the past the Commodores have tended to be erratic when playing the first game after final examinations.  Adding to this the fact that the team has struggled to beat other teams of the same caliber as American, one should be prepared for another close affair.  The Commodores should win, and the margin is predicted here to be in the 8 to 15 point range. Top Stories