The first thing that hits you about this team is the speed and athleticism of nearly every player. The scrimmage/practice started off with lay-ups, where Coach Stallings allowed for some showboating. Scott Hundley stole the show. His self-toss 180-degree reverse dunk had many screaming for more. David Przybyszewski, Ted Skuchas, Martin Schnedlitz and Brian Thornton all showed power dunks, and Jason Holwerda showed why he is considered the best finisher on the team.
The scrimmage itself was fun. Mario Moore and Russell Lakey squared off. Seeing a healthy Russell is a wonderful thing. He was in control and ran the offense very well. Several times he beat Mario off the dribble and made his way down the lane, leading to some assists. Russell's defense is outstanding and he will help us during the season, shutting down other teams. Mario is just exciting to watch. He hit five 3-pointers, and two beautiful lay-ups and led all scorers. His speed is great, and his shot is smooth. It will take some time for this freshman to learn a bit more control, but he is learning quickly, and he wants to learn from the coaching staff. On several occasions, Coach Stallings stopped the scrimmage to talk to Mario, and almost instantly there were results.
Some other key notes, David looks a lot bigger, has some definition and certainly seemed much more comfortable with his back to the basket. Brian still looks a little slow (still recovering from his minor foot injury) but rebounded well and had a couple of nice moves. Ted will need work, but the tools are there and he'll see some minutes this year. Jullian Terrell looks like the real deal. He was rebounding and shooting well. He finished one play with a dunk (assist from Mario).
Adam Payton looked very promising in spots, and like a freshman in others. He has very good speed and a nose for the ball. He shoots well from outside too. I also got the chance to see Bryson Krueger shooting before and after the scrimmage. He looked good and has a smooth shot. When he comes back to join this team, Vanderbilt will be very deep.
Jason Holwerda and Scott Hundley have both improved greatly. Scott doesn't seem as timid this year, and Jason looks like he wants the starting 2 slot. All in all this team will be very exciting to watch.
The Bryce Wells Report
New Dores Same As The Old Dores . . . Kind Of
Losing the top three outside shooters from last year's team has had many a Commodore fan worrying how this year's team would generate scoring from fifteen feet and beyond. Today's scrimmage, an intra-squad affair open to the public, may have calmed a few nerves among the approximately 500 Vanderbilt faithful who showed up to watch. Three players hit treys during the single half (20 minute) scrimmage, including a stellar 5 for 5 performance by Mario Moore, who led all scorers with 19 points. Overall the Dores were a Vanderbilt-esque 72% on 8 of 11 shooting from beyond the arc.
And while it's difficult, if not impossible, to predict how well these young men will play during the season from a short controlled scrimmage, one thing is clear - these are not your father's Commodores. This is possibly the most athletic group to collectively wear a Commodore uniform in at least the past 10 years. There were more blocks (6), dunks (2), fast breaks (several) and drives in the lane (too many to count) in one half of basketball than many fans witnessed during entire games the last several years. And if that doesn't convince you of the improved athleticism on this year's team, consider that much of the latter half of the scrimmage featured a trapping full court press.
Where you notice this improvement immediately is at the point guard position. A finally healthy Russell Lakey looked great defensively, applying constant pressure against the quick and nimble Moore. Lakey finished with three steals, two assists and 6 points on two three pointers. He was also active on the break, pushing the ball up court and making some outstanding passes.
Ironically, if Lakey was the defensive highlight, Mario Moore was the offensive highlight. Moore has an incredibly quick first step and is almost as good driving to his off hand as he is to the right. Several times Moore would break free off a high screen and get incredible penetration before dishing at the last possible second. He finished with 3 assists.
The recipient of many of those dishes, including one for a great two-hand jam, was freshman forward Julian Terrell. While still developing, Terrell is a new breed of forward for the Commodores. Tall and lean, he showed the ability to get to the basket and played stretches of great def