Men's Hoops: Player Interviews

Vanderbilt basketball practice is in full swing. VandyMania's Bryce Wells spoke with Julian Terrell, Mario Moore and DeMarre Carroll after practice on Tuesday.

Julian Terrell

What are the goals for this team heading into the season?

Team goal, well, we want to be the best team in the league, hands-down. And right now, it's not out of reach. We have an opportunity to do that. We definitely want to win the East outright, not have a split, not worry about who beat who, we just want to go in there and take care of business.

Can you share any personal goals you've set for yourself this season?

Some personal goals that I have is to 1) be the best rebounder in the league. That's going to take a lot of energy and toughness, but something I believe it achievable. That's one personal goal. Scoring-wise, I want to average double digits in terms of offensive production. If I don't get it, I'm not going to be upset, I just want to help the team, but that's my goal production-wise. Defensively, I want to stay on the court and cut down the fouls. I want to help out my teammates as much as possible and that means being on the floor and for as many minutes as possible.

The past couple of seasons, we've heard Coach Stallings stress the need for senior leadership, but we haven't heard much about it heading into this season. What do you attribute that to?

This year, Coach hasn't really been stressing leadership. Obviously he expects it, but he hasn't been appointing us the leaders or talking about it. I think being seniors, [Mario Moore and I] have a good idea about what to expect and we're the oldest ones here, so we've stepped into that role.

It's pretty easy to see a higher level of athleticism on this team compared to Vanderbilt teams of the past 15 years or so. How will that translate in terms of play on the court?

We have pretty much 14 athletes on this team right now, so we'll obviously get the ball and go. And the speed of our point guards are pretty much the top in the league right now. Our wing players are exceptionally athletic with [Shan Foster] and [Derrick Byars] and DeMarre stepping in when he's a wing or wants to be a post. This year, we just have "athletes" so we're going to get the ball and push and do things that I don't think Vanderbilt fans are accustomed to seeing in the past.

Coach Fogler said that last year's team's Achilles heel was that you were lacking a go-to guy in the waning seconds when you needed a basket. Do you feel someone has emerged as that player for this year's team?

We have so many guys who can be that guy, who can hit that shot, I don't see not having that "go-to guy" to take that shot being a complaint for this year's team. Mario has proven he can get it done, Shan's [sophomore Shan Foster] an excellent shooter, and we have Derrick [Byars] this year. Dan [Cage] can obviously shoot, Alan [Metcalfe] and Ted [Skuchas] have been dominating the block and I've extended my game – so I don't see us having one go-to player. I think depending on who's guarding us, we might expose their weakest player.

How does it feel preparing for your final season in a Vanderbilt uniform?

It's exciting. Right now basketball is the main focus in my life. Obviously there's academics, but it's all about getting to play one more year – that's all I'm excited about right now.

There's a fair amount of debate amongst fans about your natural position. Can you talk about the things you can do and where you feel most comfortable in the offensive system?

I'm definitely a power forward – a power forward who likes to play around the paint. That's what I'm naturally accustomed to. Last year I had to play the center, and I don't step down from any challenge. But for me, I would rather play power forward. We've got Ted down there, he'll bang and once he gets them out of the way, I'll go get the rebound. 

Mario Moore

How does it feel preparing for your final season in a Vanderbilt uniform?

It's exciting. It's a lot of things right now. Really, I'm just ready to play the first game I'm so excited. I've just got one more year and I'm just focused on helping my teammates get better and having the best year I can have, on and off the court. Just go out on a good note.

What are the goals for this team heading into the season?

One, winning the conference, winning the east inside the conference. Two is winning the conference tournament which is Nashville, and those are two things I think we can do. We have to practice hard and come together. Kentucky is always a good team, always a team to set your aspirations at – they win the league year-in, year-out. We have to focus on what is it they do to win like that and get that mind set. 

The past couple of seasons, we've heard Coach Stallings stress the need for senior leadership, but we haven't heard much about it heading into this season. What do you attribute that to?

I couldn't tell ya, I don't know why we haven't heard much about it this year. I just try to come out and take care of what I can handle.

You've talked about some pretty high goals for the season. If the team doesn't make it to the NCAAs, was the season a failure?

Definitely a failure. Definitely for me, definitely for everyone here on this team. We want to win, we want to win the conference and we want to be in the tournament. That's what everyone plays college basketball for – you don't college basketball play for morale, you don't play college basketball to get in shape. You play to win and you play to get to the tournament. You play to get to the stage, that's what you do.

Who do you think will emerge as the biggest surprise in terms of their performance this season?

Whoever's willing to step up and take that role. I could name a bunch of guys who have showed flashes, but whoever's willing to consistently come and step in and be a dog everyday, that's all we need to worry about.

DeMarre Carroll

What are some of your personal goals this season? What goal is the team focusing on?

Some of my personal goals are just to go out and help the team win. Basically, just do the little things, do whatever it takes for my team to win. I know this year, I might have a bigger role than last year. This year, some of my teammates are going to depend on me. And the team goal, we lacked enthusiasm and energy last year at times. This year, we want to always have that enthusiasm and make sure we're doing the things that Coach is telling us – paying attention to those details.

Do you consider yourself a defensive-minded or offensive-minded player?

Well, I just go out there and play ball, I really don't focus on defense or offense. One game, I might need to be the defensive stopper one game I might need to score a lot of points. Whatever my team needs me to do, that's what I'm going to do, just go out there and play ball.

There's a fair amount of debate amongst fans about your natural position. Can you talk about where you prefer to play and what your role is in offensive system?

My dad always told me it really doesn't matter what position you play, as long as you're out there on the court. Just for me to be out there on the court and play the game I love, it really doesn't matter if I play in the post or if I play on the wing. I'm going to do whatever I can to make my team successful.

Who do you think will emerge as the biggest surprise in terms of their performance this season?

I really can't say. Everybody really improved their game in the off-season, everyone really worked hard in the weight room and everybody added the extra effort when Coaches threw obstacles in our way. Everybody performed. You'll see improvement in everybody's game, but only time will tell.

If the team doesn't make it to the NCAAs, was the season a failure?

All this work we put in in the off-season, I don't see why we wouldn't make it to the NCAA. We put so much work in this off-season, all we have to do is apply it during the season. If we don't make the NCAA, yeah, I'll see it as a failure. But, we're going to take it game by game, instead of looking at the end of the season. That's what we did last year, looking at the end of the season and trying to pick our spots. This year we're going to take it game by game and hopefully every game will be a win and we'll play hard and bring a lot of energy.

Was there any single aspect of your game that you focused on this off-season?

I spent a lot of time working on my three-point shot and my free throws. Last year, I was really going to the offensive boards, trying to get the easy points, doing the little things my teammates need me to do. I understand this year my role might have changed some, cause Corey Smith has left, so Coach wanted me to work on my offensive game. So I went in and practiced my three-point shooting and free-throws and I've really improved in that. I still practice my defense because it's my go-to role, be that defensive stopper.


Ross Neltner (VM/Bryce Wells)

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