Vanderbilt vs. Auburn- 5 memorable games

Auburn has been the team Vanderbilt least likes to see in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Tigers have knocked the Commodores out more than any other team. Many of those times, Vandy was the better seed.

Prior to the return of the SEC Tournament, Auburn spoiled Commodore title hopes.  In 1967, the Commodores appeared headed to an unexpected SEC title, but they were derailed at the not-so-lovely village.
 
More often than not, Vanderbilt has exacted revenge on the Tigers at Memorial Gymnasium.  During the Roy Skinner years, Vandy won 10 of 13 home tilts against the navy and burnt orange War Eagles.  In particular, the Commodores' annual home wins between 1971 and 1975 exemplify the style of ball that made Memorial Gym really magical.  Let's take a look at those five wins.
 
January 23, 1971
 
Auburn had won four straight games at Memorial Gym.  Not only did the Tigers whip Vandy in Nashville in 1969 and 1970, they had the audacity to win the Vanderbilt Invitational Tournament in December 1969 (not having to play the Commodores). 
 
This game was an important contest for Vanderbilt.  After playing one of the hardest non-conference schedules of any major college team, the Commodores had split those eight games.  The four losses were to Louisville, Illinois, Kansas State, and St. John's.  In conference play, Vandy had beaten both of the Magnolia State schools (Ole Miss by a score of 130-112), Georgia, and Alabama, while losing a heartbreaker at Florida by two in triple overtime.  At 4-1 in the conference, the Commodores found themselves tied for the top with Kentucky and Tennessee.  Auburn came to Nashville at 2-3, but all three conference losses had been winnable games.
 
Vanderbilt's fortunes had turned for the better, once Coach Skinner went with a more physical lineup.  Since starting a quintet of 6-08 Rod Freeman (built like a defensive end) and 6-07 Thorpe Weber at the forwards, 6-08 Van Oliver at center, and 6-03 Ralph Mayes and 6-00 Rudy Thacker at the guards, the Commodores had turned things around, winning six of eight games with both losses coming in the final seconds.  Former starters now coming off the bench were 7-04 Steve Turner, and small guards Jimmy Conn and Tom Arnholt.  Ray Maddux and Chris Schweer offered two more options inside.  Both sported Charles Atlas physiques.  Skinner had relied more on a 2-1-2 zone defense with this team, something that was not frequently used in those days, as the 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 zones were more popular.
 
Auburn had a pair of excellent forwards, who could bang with anybody.  Jim Retseck and Dan Kirkland made Tiger football coach Shug Jordan envious.  The two athletic big men could match any team's counterparts muscle for muscle. 
 
Auburn had the best guard in the SEC and one of the best in the nation in senior Johnny Mengelt.  Mengelt liked Memorial Gym's sightlines.  In his previous two trips to play Vandy, he topped 30 points both times.  His jumper was nearly as lethal as Louie Dampier's, plus Mengelt could penetrate the lane better than the former Kentucky sharpshooter.  So far, he was scoring at a rate of 27 points per game.
 
Coach Skinner didn't know what type of effort his Commodores would produce for this game; he was leery because Vandy was coming off a two-week layoff following semester final exams (in those days, final exams came after students returned from the holidays).  Most of the players had not received adequate sleep or practice time leading into this game.
 
The rust was evident in the first 10 minutes of the game.  Vandy started off missing shot after shot.  At the midway point of the half, the Gold Men were hitting 30% of their attempts.  Meanwhile, Mengelt raced to the wings on either side of the court and swished jumper after jumper.  It looked like Vandy was in for a long night.
 
Skinner inserted Arnholt and Conn in the game to try to create some offense.  A few possessions later, he sent the giant Turner into the game.  Turner responded with a big block, which led to a fast break lay-up.  That play affected the Commodores like an alarm clock going off.  Vanderbilt quickly erased an Auburn six-point lead and tied the score.  The Commodores finished the half on a run and took a six-point lead into the locker at 41-35.  Vandy had improved to 40% on 16 of 40 shooting.
 
The second half almost looked like the second half of the Ole Miss game earlier in the season.  The Commodore defense toughened and kept the ball away from Mengelt until the game was out of reach.  Vandy controlled the defensive glass and got the ball to Arnholt in the open court.  The flashy guard found Weber and Freeman open underneath on the fast break, and Vandy began scoring points as quickly as the scoreboard operator could ring them up.  In the final 20 minutes, Arnholt dished the ball for eight assists, mostly to Weber and Freeman.  Vandy ran Auburn out of the gym and won 107-86, outscoring them 66-51 in the final stanza.
 
Weber, held to just a bucket in the first half, ended with a team high 19.  Freeman added 18.  Both recorded double-doubles, with Freeman pulling down 12 and Weber 10.  Turner scored a dozen second half points to finish with 14, and he pulled down eight boards.  Arnholt added 12 and Thacker hit for 11, including a perfect seven-for-seven at the free throw line, which put him at 90% for the year.
 
Mengelt eventually scored 14 second half points to give him 36.  Retseck added 14, and Gary England (younger brother of Tennessee all-American Jimmy) came off the bench to record 17.
 
For the game, Vandy connected on 40 of 85 shots (24 of 45 in the second half).  They won the battle of the boards by 11, and they forced Auburn to commit 21 turnovers.  It allowed the Commodores to remain tied with Tennessee and Kentucky at 5-1 in the league. 
 
Vandy split on the road against the other co-leaders a few days later to further fuel the thoughts of winning the SEC.  The record improved to 8-2, and placed the Commodores one half game ahead of Kentucky and one full game ahead of Tennessee.  Then, the roof collapsed.  Vandy split on the road at Ole Miss and LSU and then dropped six in a row to finish 9-9.
 
January 29, 1972
 
The events leading up to this one overshadowed the fact that Vanderbilt played a great game.  This had been the week of mob rule in college basketball.  The worst one of these fights was also the worst one ever.  Minnesota had assaulted Ohio State, causing three players to be suspended for the season and sending two Buckeyes to the hospital.  This was not the only incident.  In Baton Rouge, the LSU crowd was slapped with two technical fouls for throwing objects on the floor and once hitting an official.  In Lexington, Kentucky fans showered Tennessee's players with oranges in the pre-game warm-ups.  The Vols had to retreat to their locker until order was restored.
 
Vanderbilt was not immune to this either.  In the previous game at Ole Miss, the zebras let the action get away from them.  The first 32 minutes of the game consisted of mutual exchanges of elbows.  When Commodore star Terry Compton received a stunning blow, he decided enough was enough.  After Rebel Danny Gunn popped him hard, Compton retaliated with a punch.  Teammate Bill Ligon then pounced on Gunn and put him in a headlock that would have made Tojo Yammamoto (one of the more theatrical pro wrestlers) proud.  Ligon and Gunn received early showers.
 
Luckily Ligon was not suspended by the Southeastern Conference as Auburn came to Memorial Gym.  This contingent of Commodores knew how to put the ball in the basket.  At Memorial Gym, Vandy was hitting better than 51% of their field goal attempts and averaging 93 points per game.  Needless to say, this team was undefeated at home.  Earlier in the season against Cornell, the Commodores connected on 16 consecutive shots and ended the game 44 of 67 for a record 65.7%.
 
Joining forwards Compton and Ligon in the starting lineup were center Ray Maddux, and guards Tom Arnholt and Jan Van Breda Kolff.  Rod Freeman had been struggling with leg and foot injuries and was relegated to sixth man duty.  Lee Fowler could play four different positions, and he was the only other reserve seeing much action.
 
Auburn still had Kirkland and Retseck from last year's squad.  They added 6-10 center Al Leaphart to make the front line monstrous.  Noticeably absent was Mengelt, who now called the Chicago Bulls home.  This Auburn team had found some success by pounding the ball inside.  The Tigers came to town sporting a 4-3 conference mark, one game ahead of Vandy and good enough for fourth place.
 
Coach Skinner had been using a man-to-man most of this season, but against Auburn, he switched to a zone and added a zone press.  The defensive strategy confused the Tiger guards and while not creating many turnovers, it disrupted their offense.  As a result, Auburn was out of synch most of the night.
 
The defensive effort won the game for Vandy, as the Commodore offense wasn't as consistent as the previous home games.  After leading early 9-5, Vandy went cold and saw Auburn outscore them 14-4 over the next several minutes.  Then, out of nowhere, the shots started to fall, and Vandy hit four straight plus a foul shot to knot the score at 24-all.  The teams traded baskets for the remaining five minutes with Vandy taking a 39-37 lead at the buzzer.
 
The Commodore zone press began to tire Auburn in the second half, and the black and gold forged a small lead.  Once up by six, the lead never went below that.  The offense began to click, and the Commodores hit 60% over a 12-minute stretch winning 85-77.
 
Leading the way were the two forwards.  Ligon hit for 21 points and Compton added 17.  Fowler came off the bench for 13, while VBK hit for 12.  Maddux tallied eight points but pulled down 15 rebounds.  For the game, the Commodores finished at 52.4% from the field and won the rebounding battle by eight over the bigger and stronger Tigers.  The press had done its job wearing down and neutralizing Auburn's big men.
 
February 24, 1973
 
Vanderbilt faced a must win situation against a weak Auburn team.  The Tigers had fallen to the bottom of the conference and were about to have a coaching change as Bill Lynn was soon to be let go.  Auburn entered Memorial Gym with a 4-17 record, 3-11 in the SEC.  Vandy stood at 17-6 overall and 10-5 in the SEC.  One of those five losses was a huge 81-77 upset on the road at Auburn, which probably eliminated them from the conference race.  Only a total collapse by Tennessee combined with a perfect finish would give Vanderbilt a chance to finish in a multiple tie for first.
 
This Commodore team may have been the deepest group of 11 ever to wear the black and gold for one season.  10 different players started at one time or another.  Ray Maddux and Steve Turner started at center throughout the year.  When healthy, Rod Freeman started at power forward, but he had not been healthy much this year.  Five of the six Commodore losses came when he was forced to the sidelines.  The four fabulous sophomores from 1972 (Compton, Ligon, Fowler, and VBK) were now juniors.  Joining this group were a trio of four-star freshmen known as the "F-Troop."  Jeff Fosnes, Butch Feher, and Joe Ford made up the first class of freshman eligible players since the 1950's.  Each one had played exceptionally up to this point, but this game would see them all start for the first time in their brief careers.  Joining the F-Troop in the starting five for this game were Compton and Turner.
 
Auburn had a trio of quality players in their lineup in Mike Christian, Gary Redding and Gary England, but after that, the talent was lacking.
 
Coach Skinner decided to try to run Auburn off the floor early and ordered his team to play at the pace his 1972 team played.  Vandy attempted the fast break every possession and, more often then not, took the first shot available.  Four Commodores crashed the board on every shot, leading to numerous tip-ins.
 
To further wear down Auburn, Skinner substituted with five players most of the night, giving each group about five minutes of action per shift.  When Rod Freeman re-injured his previously broken foot, 11th man Chris Schweer replaced him.
 
Auburn had no answers for the Commodore blitzkrieg.  Vandy took 93 shots and made 42 for 45.2%.  With all the offensive rebounds, the Commodores ended up with 14 more attempts.  Auburn hit only 31 of 79 for 39.2%.  As the game wore on, the Tigers' percentage headed south. It wasn't just fatigue; it was total intimidation at the hands of Steve Turner.  The 7-04 senior was finally living up to his potential.  He blocked six shots and forced four additional "air balls," as Auburn couldn't connect on anything inside the paint.  On top of that, Turner hauled in 14 rebounds and took a seat accompanied by a huge standing ovation.  Vandy won easily 93-70, and dominated on the glass with a 63-42 advantage.
 
Almost overshadowed by Turner's performance were the efforts of Compton and VBK.  In the second half, VBK kept firing bullets to Compton on the fast break, and the gunner from Horse Cave, Kentucky, kept sinking baskets.  By the time they were done, Compton had 27 points and VBK had a record-breaking 12 assists.
 
As for the three freshmen starting their first game, Fosnes recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds; Feher produced six points and eight boards; and Ford added 10 points.  Commodore fans left Memorial Gym knowing 1974 would be a special year.
 
1973 almost became just as special for Vandy.  The Commodores won out to finish 13-5 in the league and 20-6 overall.  Meanwhile, Tennessee collapsed, losing three of four games to also finish 13-5.  Alabama lost at home to Kentucky in March to finish 13-5.  Kentucky was 13-4 with one game left to play at Auburn.  If the Tigers could give fired coach Lynn a going away present, four teams would finish tied for first.  For 30 minutes, it looked possible, but Kentucky finished with a rush and earned another title.
 
January 19, 1974
 
1973-74 had truly been a magical year to this point.  Vanderbilt shot out of the gate with 10 straight wins to rise to number five in the UPI poll and number six in the AP poll.  A brutal loss at LSU with an on-court fight caused VBK to suffer a collapsed lung.
 
Auburn ventured to Nashville with a new coach in Dr. Bob Davis, who had previously led tiny Georgetown College in Kentucky.  Their results to this point were little better than 1973.  Vanderbilt was tied for first with Alabama and a tough Ole Miss squad with 3-1 records.  Close behind at 2-2 were Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, Florida, and Mississippi State.  All eight of these teams sported impressive overall records, as the SEC began to become one of the top leagues in the nation.
 
Coach Davis had implemented a new run-and-gun system similar to the one Coach Skinner used at Vanderbilt.  Even though the Tigers were still losing most of their games, they were starting to play together as a team.  Guards Mike Christian and Eddie Johnson provided excellent scoring from the outside and inside.  Power forward Gary Redding and center Pepto Bolden were inside forces.  The Tigers were a year away from being quite good, but they were just 4-7 so far this season.
 
The 1973-74 Commodore team had become a seven-man squad.  Former starters Bill Ligon and Lee Fowler had become super subs (actually for this game, Skinner would start Fowler for the slumping Compton).  They combined with Compton, VBK, and the F-Troop to make up the top septet in the land.  Each of the seven played about 25 to 32 minutes per game.  Except for Ford, the other six players were almost interchangeable.  VBK had switched from point guard to center, and frequently returned to the point when Ford needed a break.  Fosnes, at 6-06, could play on the perimeter and shoot opponents into submission, but he could also bang it inside with the big men of the league.  To this point of the season, he was leading the SEC in rebounding with VBK close behind.
 
This game was over after one minute of play.  The Commodores scored seven quick points before Auburn could get a decent look at the basket.  Vanderbilt worked the ball on offense with precision passing and cutting to get easy shots all night.  When Auburn missed at the other end, the Commodores rebounded and ran the fast break to near perfection.  Twice in the first half, Vandy went on huge runs.  The lead ballooned to 20 points in just a dozen minutes, and the black and gold led 50-27 at the break, shooting 20 of 32 for 62.5%.
 
The regular seven players combined for 13 of 20 shooting in the first 12 minutes of the second half, and Vandy's lead climbed to 30 and then 40 points.  At that point, Skinner played the six seldom-used reserves the remaining minutes.  Bob Chess, John Norton, Mike Moore, Warren McSwain, Neil DeCourcey, and Spence Young added another six baskets to make the final total 96-51.
 
Vandy ended the game 39-67 for 58.2%, while Auburn connected on just 24 of 79 shots for 30.4%.  The Commodores hit 18 charity tosses to just three for Auburn.  The rebounding stats went in favor of the Commodores 57-35, as Auburn had very few opportunities on the defensive end.
 
Four Commodores clicked for double figures.  Fosnes tallied 18, Ford contributed 16, Ligon knocked down 15, and Compton hit for 11.  Six Vandy players pulled down five or more rebounds.  The most impressive stat of the night were the 20 assists dished out. 
 
Vanderbilt continued to play impressively after this game, winning by 17 over Tennessee in Knoxville.  The Commodores moved to as high as number four in the polls with a record of 21-1 before fading at the end.  They won the conference title, but split their last four regular season games and both games in the NCAA Mideast Regional (in those days, there was a consolation game) to finish 23-5.
 
February 17, 1975
 
With the graduation of VBK, Compton, Fowler, and Ligon, the Commodores had a little rebuilding to do.  Rebuilding in the Roy Skinner era meant 9-9 or 10-8 in conference play and 15-11 or 16-10 overall.
 
The F-Troop returned as juniors.  Joining them was fellow junior Mike Moore who had begun to emerge as a viable varsity player at the end of 1974.  Bob Chess had begun the season starting in the post but gave away to two promising freshmen.
 
The new crop of freshmen included centers John Sneed, 6-09 from Father Ryan High School, and 6-11 Neil Bemenderfer.  Joining them was forward Tom Shultz, and tiny 5-10 guard Dickie Keffer.
 
Auburn was the most improved team in the SEC in 1975.  Coach Davis had successfully landed the top freshman class in the SEC and one of the finest in the history of the conference.  Joining holdovers Eddie Johnson, Gary Redding, and Pepto Bolden, were a quintet that was considered better than Kentucky's great freshman class of 1971 (Kevin Grevey, Mike Flynn, Jimmy Dan Connor, and Bob Guyette). Forward Mike Mitchell at 6-08 and 220 was an immediate starter and all-SEC player.  He could inflict damage both inside and outside.  He'd go on to star in the NBA for several years.  Myles Patrick, also 6-08 and 220, started off and on as a freshman.  Guard Wayne Bracey played significant minutes, while two additional guards were the SEC's best outside shooters not named Grunfeld.  Stan Pietkiewicz (pronounced pet-CAVAGE) at 6-05 and 200 pounds could destroy a zone defense with 20 points in 10-12 minutes of action.  The other guard, Jim Krivacs, stood only 6-01 and weighed a meager 165 pounds.  The perfect embodiment of what countless hours of practice can do, Krivacs was the basketball equivalent of Ted Williams.  Instead of hitting a baseball, the Indiana Mr. Basketball finalist could shoot better than just about anybody else; he spent several hours a day in the gym shooting.  He was a better than 90% shooter at the foul line (more about Krivacs at the end of this section).
 
Auburn stood at 9-4 in the SEC and fresh off an upset win at Tennessee.  The Tigers were still in the hunt for an NCAA tournament bid in the first year where two conference teams could receive bids.
 
After a rocky 4-6 start in SEC play, Coach Skinner decided to make a major change in the game strategy.  He scrapped the man-to-man defense in favor of a 1-2-2 zone.  On the back line, Moore and Sneed kept the ball out of the low post.  Fosnes and Feher manned the middle, while Ford stopped penetration from the key.  The Commodores proceeded to win three consecutive games in impressive fashion to improve to 7-6 in the SEC; an NIT bid was possible, if Vandy could close out 4-1 (in 1975, the NIT was still a prestigious tournament featuring some ranked teams).  Offensively, this was one of the best percentage shooting teams at Vandy.  Coming into this game, the team shot almost 51% from the field.  Fosnes and Feher were both hitting for more than 20 points per game and would become the only Commodore teammates to do so for an entire season.
 
Leery of what Krivacs, Johnson, Mitchell, and Pietkiewicz might do to a zone defense, and remembering what Kentucky's Louie Dampier and Pat Riley did to a Commodore zone defense in 1966, Skinner decided to surprise Auburn with a man-to-man defense to start the game.
 
From the outset, Moore played magnificent defense on Mitchell, who couldn't get open to receive a pass.  Johnson took up the slack for the Tigers and couldn't miss from the outside.  He hit several running jumpers from what would be three-point land today.  When Ford and Feher tried to double team him, he simply spotted the open teammate and dished the ball for a basket.  Auburn took the lead early and looked like they were going to sweep the Volunteer state with two impressive road wins.
 
The lead didn't last.  About six minutes before halftime, the Tigers put Vandy in the one and one.  Meanwhile, the Commodores had only been whistled for a couple of fouls.  The Tiger defenders became frustrated that they were whistled for fouls with just a minimum of contact, while Vandy could get away with more contact.  This was not a home court advantage phenomenon; at Baton Rouge a few weeks earlier, Vandy never allowed LSU to take a foul shot, while going to the line 38 times.  Credit must go to assistant coach Ron Bargatze for devising a defense that didn't foul.  Players used their bodies and not their hands to stop the opponents.
 
As Vandy sank free throw after free throw, the Auburn lead disappeared.  The Commodores grabbed the lead just before the half and went to the dressing room up eight points at 46-38.  Coach Davis had done everything he could to earn a technical foul, but the referees ignored his verbal tirade and numerous violations of the coaching box.
 
The Commodores opened the second half playing the zone defense.  Auburn tried to penetrate it and could not get an open look.  Sneed and Bemenderfer turned away a few shots, and Auburn quit trying to score inside until it was too late.  The lead grew to 16 points at 66-50 with 10 minutes to play. 
 
For most of the game, Auburn had been playing a 1-3-1 half-court trapping zone.  Once the lead hit 16 points, Skinner decided to force Auburn into a man-to-man defense.  Before there was a shot-clock, there was the stall.  When a team with the lead froze the ball, the opponent had to come out and guard them or be assessed a technical foul.  Auburn extended the zone press out and began forcing turnovers.  This led to fast break lay-ups at their end.  While Vandy stopped trying to score, Auburn's defense turned up the heat and forced the Commodores into multiple mistakes.  The Tigers quickly chipped 11 points off the lead and cut the deficit to five at 73-68.
 
At this point, Skinner sent in Keffer to run the offense with Ford.  Running Skinner's version of the four-corners, Keffer drove down the middle of the court.  He spotted Feher breaking for the basket behind the Auburn press and hit the forward for an easy lay-in.  On the next possession, this sequence repeated itself with Feher picking up another crip.  The next time down the floor, Feher cut across and set a back pick for Fosnes.  Keffer hit him for a third easy lay-up.  Auburn made one final desperate attempt, but the lead was too much to overcome.  Vanderbilt held on to win 85-78.
 
Auburn finally made it to the foul line, with Pietkiewicz hitting a pair (game film showed that he had really been fouled after shooting and not in the act, and the Tigers really should have been shut out at the charity stripe).  Vandy connected on 19 of 24.  From the field, the Commodores hit on 33 of 71 shots, while Auburn was good for 38 out of 79.  The rebounding stats proved to be just as important as the foul shooting stats.  The Tigers easily led the league in rebounding margin; however, they only won this battle 42-40, and several of their finals rebounds came when Vandy was not fouling at the end.  Prior to that point, the Gold Men held the edge on the boards.
 
Fosnes led Vanderbilt with 24 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the field.  Feher hit for 21.  Both stars pulled down nine rebounds.  Ford contributed 16 points, while Sneed added 10.  While Moore only scored eight points on 3 of 12 shooting, his defense of Mitchell was vital in the win.
 
Mitchell scored only 12 points for Auburn, and six of those came at the end when Vanderbilt was instructed not to foul.  Redding and Bolden added 10 points apiece.  Krivacs and Pietkiewicz never could get a rhythm.  They combined for just six points on two of seven shooting.  Johnson kept the War Eagles in the game with perhaps the best single effort of the 1975 SEC season.  he scored 32 points and dished out 10 assists, acocunting for 52 of Auburn's 78 points.
 
After the game, Coach Skinner took the blame for almost giving the game away.  He said that changing from a fast-pace to a stall forced the team to lose its aggressiveness and play passively. 
 
Auburn Coach Davis spent several minutes in the post-game interview session berating SEC officials for having a different set of personal foul rules for Vandy than the other nine teams.
 
Note: Jim Krivacs transferred to Texas after his freshman year.  He guided the Longhorns to two Southwest Conference titles and an NIT championship.  After graduating, he was drafted by the Kansas City Kings of the NBA but never played.  He became a successful realtor on the west coast of Florida and struck up a friendship with Pete Maravich.  The Pistol convinced him to become a player agent, and he became one of the best, especially with Major League baseball players.  Among his most famous clients were Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, and Tino Martinez.
 
January 7, 2006
 
Can Vanderbilt emerge from the malaise that has hit the team this year?  It's possible they will play more like the experts predicted, but I tend to doubt it.  This team may have some terminal flaws that cannot be corrected.  Coach Stallings must be stressed to the extreme.  Each Commodore seems to have several liabilities with some part of his game.  No single player appears to have mastered all the skills needed to be a competent player.  Unlike football, where a coach can substitute different players for different situations, and unlike baseball, where a manager can platoon players, basketball doesn't afford the same strategies.  Where one player may be deficient in man-to-man defense, that same player may be the best passer.  Another player may have poor offensive perimeter skills, but may be the best perimeter defender.  Yet another player may be more than adequate as a defender, passer, and mover but cannot hit the broad side of a barn with his shot.
 
I don't envy Coach Stallings.  He probably has an entire shelf full of Maalox in his medicine cabinet.  What do I suggest he do?  It will come as no surprise to all those who follow my rants that I suggest a change in tempo.  I am convinced that like Coach Skinner noticed with the 1975 Auburn game that a change in tempo will help bring the Commodores out of their current funk and change the tide.  I think the Commodores should shoot for 75 field goal attempts.  Somewhere in these multitude of shots, the players will find their rhythm.  I would also consider having a daily dunking drill in practice.  Too many times in recent games, players didn't go to the basket with authority.  Easy shots within reach of the rim have missed at important points in the games.
 
Note: Some information for this story came from the Nashville Banner, Nashville Tennessean, and Vanderbilt Media Guides from the years discussed.

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