The Vanderbilt women were the school's first team in any sport to win a national title – the Women's National Invitational Tournament in 1984. Since the program's start in 1977, the Commodores have averaged 21 wins per season and achieved national rankings in all but two of the past 25 years. The 1992-1993 Final Four team earned Vanderbilt's first ever number one ranking and held that position for 6 weeks until the season's end.
1995 graduate and point guard for the Final Four team, former WNBA New York Liberty guard Rhonda Blades Brown, is scheduled to speak, as will former women's athletic director June Stewart, former assistant coach Pat Moran and Coach Melanie Balcomb before a 2 p.m. SEC match against Ole Miss (8-8, 2-1). Vanderbilt (13-6, 2-2) will attempt to end the Rebel's two-game win streak; the team's sole SEC loss was to No. 10 Georgia, 62-75, in Athens.
Only the fourth coach to lead the Commodore women, Balcomb said the school's tradition of winning and excellence led her to leave Xavier for Vandy in 2002.
"When we played in Memorial Gym for the first time, I could feel that overall tradition of success. I could feel it in the gym, I could see in the banners, in the Hall of Fame. They display a lot of the tradition here, and there was a great crowd that had great respect for the program. It was a very tough place to play."
Blades, Lamb, Mara Cunningham and Heidi Gillingham had made an impression on Balcomb. "That Final Four team got great national exposure. I remember them being so tall, having so many big players. The other memorable history that stands out was watching Chantelle Anderson in her early years, watching those games against Tennessee on television, the rivalry showcased on ESPN."
The foundation is set for the current program to continue making progress. "Right now I feel good about where we're at as a program and what I came to do," Balcomb said. "We came to build on the tradition and try to take it to the next level which means getting to another Final Four and winning a national championship. That's still our goal, still our motivator and that's why we came here. We haven't achieved that yet, so we're still not done."