Vandy Sweet 16s past; a look back

Vanderbilt's appearance in East Rutherford, N.J. Friday in the NCAA Sweet 16 will mark only the sixth time in school history a Commodore men's team has advanced this deep into the tournament. How did the five previous Commodore teams that qualified for the NCAA Round of 16 fare? Here's a look back.


Coach: Roy Skinner.
Key players: Clyde Lee, John Ed Miller, Bob "Snake" Grace.
How Vandy arrived at the Sweet 16: Won the regular season Southeastern Conference championship. In these days, the SEC champion received an automatic berth in what was then known as the "Mideast Regional" in the round of 16 teams. The 1965 regional was held in Lexington's Memorial Coliseum.
How they fared in the Sweet 16: The 1965 team is the only team in school history to win in the Sweet 16 and advance to the Elite Eight. The game against DePaul went into overtime, but Vanderbilt advanced with an 83-78 win. The Commodores would be narrowly beaten out in the regional finals by Cazzie Russell and Michigan, 87-85, in perhaps the most famous game in school history. John Ed Miller was called for traveling in the final minute, nullifying a basket that would have given Vandy the lead.


Coach: Roy Skinner.
Key players: Jan van Breda Kolff, Terry Compton, Lee Fowler, Bill Ligon, Jeff Fosnes, Joe Ford, Butch Feher.
How Vandy arrived at the Sweet 16: Vandy won the regular season SEC Championship with a record of 15-3, and was awarded an automatic berth in the Mideast Regional.
How they fared in the Sweet 16: Lost to Al McGuire's Marquette team, 69-61. The Mideast Regional also included a consolation game, which the Commodores lost to a powerful Notre Dame team, 118-88. It was a disappointing end to what had been one of the most memorable regular seasons in school history.


Coach: C. M. Newton.
Key players: Will Perdue, Barry Goheen, Barry Booker, Frank Kornet.
How Vandy arrived at the Sweet 16: The 1988 Commodores received an at-large bid after finishing the regular season 18-10, and 10-8 in the SEC, and were sent to Lincoln, Neb. as a 7-seed for the first round of the 64-team tournament. Vanderbilt defeated Utah State 80-77 in the first round, then advanced to the Sweet 16 with an unforgettable win over Pittsburgh. Barry Goheen's long-range 3-point buzzer-beater tied the game in regulation, and Vandy went on to win 80-74 in overtime.
How they fared in the Sweet 16: Not so well. In the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., the Commodores ran into Danny Manning and Kansas and fell, 77-64. Kansas, coached by Larry Brown, would go on to win the tournament, and Manning would be named tournament MVP.


Coach: Eddie Fogler
Key players: Billy McCaffrey, Chris Lawson, Bruce Elder, Kevin Anglin.
How Vandy arrived at the Sweet 16: The 1993 Commodores won the regular-season SEC Championship with a record of 14-2, but received an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament after failing to win the SEC Tournament. Vanderbilt received a 3-seed in the West Regional, the school's highest seed ever since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. In the first two rounds, Vanderbilt easily defeated Boise State (92-72) and Illinois (85-68).
How they fared: The Commodores went cold from outside and were no match for John Chaney and Temple's matchup zone. With alumnus Bill Cosby in the audience, the cagey Owls defeated Vandy 67-59. Within a week afterwards, Coach Fogler would leave to accept the open head coaching position at South Carolina.


Coach: Kevin Stallings
Key players: Matt Freije, Mario Moore, Scott Hundley, Russell Lakey, Corey Smith, Jason Holwerda.
How Vandy arrived at the Sweet 16: In Kevin Stallings' fifth season at Vandy, the surprising Commodores made a dramatic turnaround from the disappointments of the previous season. Carried on the back of All-SEC performer Matt Freije, Vandy earned a No. 6 seed in the Phoenix bracket after finishing 21-9 and stunning No. 4 Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament. Infamously branded "too white" by Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan, Vanderbilt went to Orlando determined to prove itself worthy of its high seed. The Commodores had little trouble with Western Michigan in the first round, and memorably overcame a 10-point deficit in the final 2:44 to earn an electrifying 75-73 upset of third-seeded North Carolina State in the second round. Against all odds, Cinderella Vandy was headed to Phoenix for the Sweet 16.
How they fared: The postseason run had been sweet, but Vanderbilt ran into a brick wall in the regional semifinals. Led by All-American Emeka Okafor and a star-studded starting five, Jim Calhoun's Connecticut Huskies manhandled Vandy 73-53 at America West Arena, making the Commodores a mere speed bump along the road to the 2004 NCAA title. Vandy sputtered through a nearly 7-minute dry spell in the first half, and Freije went 3-of-18 from the floor in his final game. To add insult to injury, Freije was subjected to a random drug test after the game; if any Commodores had been taking performance-enhancers that day, it wasn't obvious. Top Stories