Practice Begins for Women's Basketball

On Saturday morning the Vanderbilt women's basketball held their first official practice of the 2007-2008 season in Memorial Gym. Whitney D spent some time in the gym and shares these photos from her visit.

Many basketball teams across the country held their first official practice on Friday evening, at the earliest possible moment allowed by the NCAA. However, homecoming weekend complicated scheduling at Vanderbilt. At 6 p.m. Friday, the main court of Memorial Gym was filled with folding chairs and a stage in preparation for the Commodore Quake featuring Kanye West and Guster with Brett Dennen. But Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., Ingram Court was once again ready for basketball.

The players have already spent a lot of time together as a team. Although the freshmen members of the team weren't allowed by the NCAA to go to Spain with the veterans, all of the team has been working out together, playing together in open gym, and getting together off the court since the freshmen arrived on campus in July. But nonetheless, Saturday morning was the official beginning of the season, the birth of the team.

Although there are only three upperclassmen on the team, leadership was visible on the court from the moment that practice began. Early in the practice, junior Tina Wirth gives instructions to the players on the court.

Through the individual workouts that the NCAA allows during the first part of the fall semester, the coaches have already had some time on the court with each of the players on the team.

"We've already done a lot of skill instruction, and they've been extremely coachable," said Head Coach Melanie Balcomb before practice. "Their attitude's been really good, and now we need to see what their effort is and their discipline over a longer period of time."

In this photo: Coach Balcomb, freshman guard Jence Rhoads, junior post Tina Wirth, sophomore guard Ashlee Bridge.

All four of the basketball coaches are actively involved in instruction during practice. Assistant Coach Lisa Cermignano (far left) is in charge of coaching the guards. In this photo: Jence Rhoads and sophomore guard Merideth Marsh.

Assistant Coach Vicky Picott coaches the post players. In this photo: Rebecca Silinski and sophomore posts Amber Norton and Amy Malo.

In addition to being the recruiting coordinator for the team, the newest assistant coach, Kim Rosamond observes and does whatever is needed on the court. In this photo: Sophomore guard Lauren Lueders, Ashlee Bridge, and Jence Rhoads.

Head coaches at major college programs wear many different hats, but on the first day of practice, perhaps the most important role is being a teacher. In this photo: Coach Balcomb with senior post Liz Sherwood.

Liz Sherwood, Jessica Mooney and Coach Balcomb

For the freshmen on the team, it's their first experience with a three-hour college practice. Freshmen Chanel Chisholm and Jence Rhoads work with the Coach Cermignano and the other guards at one end of the court.

At the other end of the court, freshman posts Rebecca Silinski (left) and Hannah Tuomi (right) are working with the posts, including sophomore Amy Malo (center).

Jence Rhoads, Merideth Marsh, and Lauren Lueders

Sophomore guard Jessica Mooney

Freshman post Rebecca Silinski

Rebecca Silinski, Jence Rhoads, and Jessica Mooney

Sophomore post Amber Norton

Later in the day, everybody on the team attended the Homecoming Football game against the Georgia Bulldogs as special guests. In this photo: Freshmen Hannah Tuomi, Jence Rhoads, Rebecca Silinski, and Chanel Chisholm.

Before the game, the team was responsible for doing the fog for the football team as they ran through the tunnel onto the field. In this photo: Tina Wirth, Amy Malo, Hannah Tuomi, Lauren Lueders, and Merideth Marsh.

To put the finishing touches on a long day for the team, in the third quarter of the game, Vice Chancellor David Williams (right) brought the entire team onto the field to be recognized in front of the capacity crowd in attendance. (Click image to view a larger version of the photo.),

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Photos copyright 2007 by Whitney D for Top Stories