Their first partner in the dance will be the Montana Lady Grizzlies, the place will be the Bank of America Arena in Seattle, Washington, and the time will be approximately 9:30 p.m. CT.
This will be the Vanderbilt seniors' fourth trip to the NCAA
tournament. As freshmen, they went to the Elite 8, where they lost to Tennessee
in the regional finals. As sophomores, they lost in the second round to
Boston College in the final seconds of over-time, and as juniors, they
lost in the Sweet 16 to Stanford on a buzzer beater by Kelly Suminksi.
But while they're battle-tested veterans, this year is different from
any other because their Vanderbilt careers will end with this
"Ashley were sitting at the table talking about how each game we're
playing for our next game," said Ramsey after the NCAA's Selection Show on
Sunday afternoon. "We need to make a point to the other girls that
we're going to go for every ball, and that it starts in practice making
that extra effort.."
For Ramsey, the reality began to sink in at the barbecue hosted by the
Commodore Crew, the booster club for women's basketball, earlier in the
"Here I am with some of the Commodore Crew, and they're coming by and
saying how much they've enjoyed me over the past four years, and I'm
like, 'this is like the beginning of saying good bye.' It's almost more
of a sad day than an enjoyable one, so it's definitely starting to sink
in right now, and we're wanting to have every last second."
Earley shares her sense of urgency.
"It's our last time," Earley said. "We're seniors so we want to go out
on a positive note. The last two years we have lost at the last second,
so we want a different ending this time around. And just the knowledge
of knowing our next game could be our last game -- it's exciting to
know that it's all or nothing."
If the Commodores are successful in their first game against Montana on
Saturday, on Monday they'll face the winner of the game between #4-seed
Kansas State and #13-seed Bowling Green for a trip to the Sweet 16.
Should they once again prevail, they'd likely face #1-seed Michigan
State in the Sweet 16. Other possible future opponents in the Kansas City
region include defending national champion #3-seed Connecticut and last
year's nemesis, #2-seed Stanford.
Ramsey says that the bracket was "kind of a shocker" because it doesn't
include either Tennessee, a team which has been in Vanderbilt's bracket
two of the past three years, or Ohio State, where former Vanderbilt
coach Jim Foster now coaches.
If the teams in the bracket were a surprise, the seed wasn't. "We came
in expecting to get a 4 or a 5 seed," said Earley. "We ended up getting
a 5 seed. There's really no difference between them. You play a 12 seed
or a 13th seed and if we both win, then we end up playing each other."
But first things first. Immediately after the Selection Show, the
coaching staff began preparations for the upcoming opponents. Each of the
assistant coaches will scout one of the teams in the "pod", which
includes Montana, Kansas State, and Bowling Green.
Throughout the season, the staff tapes games on TV, so they already
have a video library to draw from. For teams that rarely appear on
television, they turn to a service that provides video tapes.
Then it's back to the gym. Last week the team had some time off after
the SEC tournament, then began to get back into the swing of things,
going back to the fundamentals. Monday will probably be another day of
going back to the basics.
The break has been good for the team.
"Going into the tournament, we feel good," Ramsey said. "We've had this
past week to get healthy and we have the rest of this week to focus on
those teams we'll be playing."
A limited number of tickets to the first and second round games in
Seattle are available through the Vanderbilt ticket office with priority to
National Commodore Club and Commodore Crew members who are season
ticket holders for women's basketball.
Anyone who would like to request tickets can call the ticket office at
615-322-GOLD (option 2). The ticket office will also be open from 8:30
to 5:00 p.m. on Monday for those who wish to place ticket requests in
The deadline to request tickets is 5 p.m., Monday, March 14.
Women's Hoops: Seniors talk about NCAA bid
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