Catching Up with Dan Cage

For weeks now, Vanderbilt fans have heard about how hard the team has been working to prepare for the 05-06 season. In the first full week of practices, the intensity has been cranked up another notch or two. One side effect of that intensity, especially when simulating game conditions in practice, is a risk of injury.

On Tuesday, during the team's regularly scheduled practice, Dan Cage suffered a broken nose. I was able to catch up with Dan and ask him about his injury. Dan told me that "during practice on Tuesday, we were having an aggressive drill. It was five on five, and a ball went up off of a rebound. Kyle Madsen, who was actually on my team at the time – me and him collided and the collision broke my nose in three places."

According to Dan, the injury to his nose could take four to six weeks to heal, but it should not seriously effect his performance on the court. Dan was even able to return for the end of the Tuesday practice. Dan is known as a very tough individual – his attitude towards the injury is determination to "just go out there and play through it. I won't let it effect me too much."

Although his injury should be fully healed near the time of the Georgetown game, Dan may still be wearing a protective mask during practices and games. "I will have to wear this mask in practice and games for 4-6 weeks… the mask [effects my play] a little bit, just because some of my peripheral vision isn't there. And, you know, it's kind of distracting to have a piece of plastic stuck to your face."

Dan's tough attitude reflects the attitude of the team this preseason. Much has been made of the leadership of Mario Moore and Julian Terrell, and the fact that this team seems to have even more dedication that Vanderbilt teams have shown in the past. "It's just a feeling of excitement," says Cage, "We're ready to go out, we know we're capable, and we're pumped for the season to start."

The Cage family is especially excited this year as Dan's younger brother begins his career with Alabama. "He is a freshman, so I don't know how much playing time he's going to get, but he's working hard down there. Me and the family are really looking forward to going down to Tuscaloosa. I've been on teams with my little brother, but I've never played against him, so it should be fun."

Another SEC freshman to be excited about, according to Cage, is Vanderbilt's George Drake. When I asked how Drake stacks up against other SEC shooting guards from last season, Dan quickly responded that George is "as athletic as anybody you'll see in the SEC… he's gotta be one of the strongest freshmen in the league.

Overall, Dan's mood at Friday's practice seemed very optimistic and very dedicated. If everybody on the team shares his attitude and mindset, even after a tough and painful injury, then Vanderbilt is ready to have a very special season. I'll leave you with a message that Dan wanted Vanderbilt fans across the nation to hear:

"This is going to be a fun year – you'll have a great time if you come to see us. We're exciting, we're young, we're fast, and we've got a great chance to make this a very special season… [one of our goals] is to win the SEC. Win it in the regular season and at the SEC tournament. But if we keep doing the kind of stuff we're doing right now, then that will take care of itself. This could be a very special season."


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