Photo Story: Early March Madness

For basketball fans, "March" and "Madness" are practically synonymous. VandyMania's Whitney D was afflicted with the madness as March began, traveling to four Vanderbilt games in four days. Here are some of her photos from the trips.

First stop on Wednesday night was the Ajax Diner on Courthouse Square in Oxford, Mississippi, for some down home Southern comfort food before the Commodores played the Ole Miss Rebels.

Shan Foster's cousins from Missisippi enjoyed Vanderbilt's 77-62 victory over the Rebels, and Shan's 18 points made their trip especially sweet.

On Thursday, the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament opened in North Little Rock, Arkansas. In the late game on Day 1, Vanderbilt defeated Alabama 84-62 to advance to the quarterfinals on Friday. Cherish Stringfield shared a laugh with Coach Melanie Balcomb in the press conference after the game.

In Little Rock, the Vanderbilt and Tennessee women's teams and many of their fans were staying in the same hotel. A Knoxville company that specializes in Vols and Lady Vols merchandise set up shop in the hotel. On Friday morning, an inflatable "Smokey" advertised the location.

In the early game on Friday, the LSU Lady Tigers defeated the Kentucky Wildcats. LSU fans amused themselves during the Auburn-Tennessee game that followed by tallying the number of times the pep band played "Rocky Top".

Former Mississippi Coach Van Chancellor, who has coached the Houston Comets in the WNBA since the league formed in 1996, was in town for color commentary on the TV broadcasts. Since leaving Ole Miss, Chancellor has won four WNBA championships and an Olympic gold medal. Young fans at the game were fascinated by one of his championship rings.

In the late game on Friday, the Commodores played the Georgia Lady Bulldogs. Even though Vanderbilt tried to slow her down, Sherrill Baker scored 27 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 69-47 victory.

After the game, the cheerleaders joined the pep band in a solemn rendition of the alma mater. With Vanderbilt out of the tourney, the cheerleaders and pep band were able to return to Nashville for the men's game on Saturday against Tennessee.

Back in Nashville, Saturday was "Senior Night". Julian Terrell and Mario Moore, the two seniors on the men's team, were honored in a pregame ceremony.

Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl wore his orange blazer to the game and watched Vanderbilt jump out to a double-digit first half lead.

At halftime, former Commodores in the NFL were recognized, including (left to right) Corey Chavous, Jamie Duncan, David Lee, Shelton Quarles, Jimmy Williams, and Jamie Winborn.

A comeback victory by the Volunteers meant a frustrating afternoon for Vanderbilt, despite DeMarre Carroll's double double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Now there's a few days break before the madness resumes. The men's SEC Tournament opens in Nashville on Thursday with Vanderbilt playing Auburn at 6:30 p.m.

The women's team awaits the women's NCAA Selection Show on March 13. Bracketologists predict that the team will receive an at-large bid and will be assigned to open play in Memorial Gym when Vanderbilt hosts the first and and second rounds of the tournament.

Photos copyright 2006 by Whitney D for Top Stories