Q&A: Kevin Stallings confidential

As Vanderbilt prepares for its season opener vs. Toledo, Kevin Stallings talks with VandyMania about personnel, preparation, and expectations.

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VandyMania:

Head coach Kevin Stallings:

VM: You have a very talented freshman point guard in Alex (Red) Gordon. Once you get into the season, how do you see the point guard position playing out? Will they alternate a lot? Will they play together some?

Stallings: They're both going to play, but Mario is clearly, clearly ahead of Red right now. Mario has probably been our best player through practices thus far. We have practiced some with those two guys playing together. They're small, but they're quick, and they're good. But in terms of who should play today, Mario is clearly, clearly the guy who would be our point guard.

VM: Mario elevated his level of play last year. With Russell Lakey gone, how much will he be depended on for leadership?

Stallings: I think Mario, if he wants to take a significant jump and stride this year, consistency is the key. Because on nights when he's good, he's real good. It just all depends on how consistent he is. In practices thus far, his performances have been very, very consistent.

VM: Of your freshmen, is there one that has stood out in practice above the others?

Stallings: DeMarre' Carroll has been the one that has played the best. Alex Gordon and Shan Foster have been next, but I would have to say that DeMarre' has been the one that has played the best.

VM: Will he be in the post rotation? With his rebounding ability, could he go back and forth between 3 and 4?

Stallings: I think he's more of a perimeter guy. I don't think we'll spend any time with him playing the 4 spot.

VM: What can you say about Alan Metcalfe thus far?

Stallings: He's already gone through a position change, where we've had to move him. That's slowed his growth a little bit in terms of knowing where to be. But he does some things that we really like. He's got good passing and shooting skills. He's kind of bouncy and tough, physically tough. He's making a lot of strides. He's got a lot of strides to make, but he's making big strides.

VM: And in Alex Gordon, do you feel like you've got a solid backup to Mario, a guy who can be Mario's understudy for a while?

Stallings: Yes. At times, as I said, he'll probably play with Mario. At times, he'll play better than Mario. He's a very, very talented kid. Alex has got a high, high talent level, and a high level of athleticism, and it shows.

VM: Do you think you'll ever call for the Alex Gordon 25-footer as a designed play?

Stallings: Well, I'll tell you what, he's got big range, and is accurate. So if you can make them, I'll let you shoot 'em.

VM: Is this freshman class the best you've had?

Stallings: Yeah.

VM: Would you say that each recruiting class has gotten incrementally better?

Stallings: I think so. Fortunately our success has allowed for that. These guys are just a cut above athletically, and they possess a high skill level. Now, what we've got to do is we've got to educate them to the idea of the difference in college basketball.

VM: You said last year that you didn't want this team to get too full of itself after getting to the Sweet 16 last year..

Stallings: My team hasn't gotten too full of itself. After working with them these last few weeks, I can tell you that. Our approach to practice has been great. At this juncture I think I can tell you that our team will come close to being as good as they can be. If we're able to maintain what we've started... and again, I don't know what that is. But so far, we have the right approach, and the right disposition toward practice and toward each other. That's the place you have to start.

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