Aggressive attitude sought in season opener

With the official start of basketball season a few days away, the focus of the Vanderbilt Commodores is really on themselves, not Patriot League Champions Lehigh from Bethlehem, Pa., who will try to stop any momentum building from a 2-0 (exhibition) stand.

The 2 p.m. Sunday match at Memorial will feature a squad that's quick in transition and comfortable with the three in their first-ever game against Vanderbilt. Nashville area fans can scout the Hawks Friday night in a game against Lipscomb University.

Head Coach Balcomb, always on the lookout for improvement, expressed the need for a more forceful style.

"We know Lehigh is an extremely successful team. They've got great guards and they feed off their point guard Erica Prosser, who is one of the best out there. They have a great shooter in Alex Ross. But I'm never pleased. I'm never satisfied. Right now we've done enough to play everybody in the first half and then play the second half to win, and we've won. But we need to get a more aggressive attitude on both ends of the floor."

The coach also commented on Vanderbilt's four 2010 incoming freshmen, who this week officially announced their intentions to play for the reigning SEC Champions: Kayci Ferris (6'8" post), Tori Jarosz (6'3" post), Christina Foggie (5'10" guard) and Jasmine Lister (5'4" point guard).

"They are the pieces of the puzzle we've been trying to get together as far as spots we needed to fill," she said. "Obviously our first need was height. We're bringing in a lot of height as well as players who can face off with their back to the basket, versatility, shooters, scorers and a point guard with the ability to score and be quick. It's a great class for us to address the needs we have immediately."

About this weekend's opponent, Lehigh's Prosser, last season's Player of the Year for the Patriot League, and Ross, who nailed 93 buckets from beyond the arch, are the go-to players for the Mountain Hawks.

Post Hannah Tuomi isn't phased about the opponent's shooting skill, and promises the ‘Dores will score early and often. "We have pretty high expectations for the season so we're going to win. That's what we're set up to do. We want to come out with a bang and put them in a hole right away."

Hannah, whose previous season ended early on crutches in March, said nerves about her return from a stress fracture will likely be tougher than guarding against early fouls.

"I feel there's more pressure on myself coming back and seeing what I have, seeing if I've gotten any better or worse. I'm still trying not to get nervous when I get back out on the floor since it's been so long. It's more mental than anything I'd say."

About those fouls that limited action to 15 minutes against Drury last Saturday, Hannah believes her height and stronger build against a smaller team drew quick whistles. "Once the conference season starts, I won't get the quick fouls called on me. I'm not that big and bad in the SEC."

Senior guard Jessica Mooney, a speedy playmaker of her own, is thrilled the season is kicking off with three games the first week. Following Sunday's match is Southern Illinois in Carbondale on Wednesday, and Friday, a night of potential retribution against UC-Riverside. Vandy's loss on the West Coast last year was a wakeup call that changed the season.

"I'm excited to get back in the flow of playing games more fluently," Jessica said. "We've been having a game, then six or seven days off. We like playing a lot of games." Let the games begin.


Hannah Tuomi readies for a rebound in the first exhibition against Union.



Jessica Mooney attacks the basket with a jumper over a defender.

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