VU frosh take first NCAA tourney in stride

Prior to Vanderbilt (22-10) taking its first practice on Xavier's Cintas Center court, the freshmen spoke with about their thoughts on the tournament and what is pushing them to succeed.

As Vanderbilt prepares to face DePaul on Sunday, freshman Elan Brown, Tiffany Clarke and Gabby Smtih have noticed the upsets on the men's side of the bracket, and are looking to prove a president wrong.

Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame grad Gabby Smith, said upsetting the president's bracketology predictions is motivation enough for her. The President picked 25 of 32 winners correctly in the men's tournament, including Murray State over Vandy.

"Watching our guy's team lose on a last second shot has motivated us," the 5-10 guard said. "We're carrying the torch for them. And Barack Obama keeps voting against us so we want to prove him wrong."

For two weeks Vanderbilt has been working the drills and refining plays after the SEC Tournament semifinal loss to Tennessee. The 19-point defeat is still painful, Elan said, and gives her and her teammates plenty of motivation to do well this go-round.

"We were all pretty upset about that loss and we've stepped it up in practice. We're coming in here with a lot of confidence."

The athleticism of the SEC has undoubtedly helped shape Vandy's offense and defense. Tiffany, at 6-0 an undersized post, routinely matches up against players hovering three to five inches above her.

"The SEC is one of the toughest if not the toughest conference in the country so I feel confident that we're prepared for teams in the NCAA," she believes.

The open practice at Xavier was one of two scheduled for the team. As play is about to get underway, Tiffany and Gabby both express their excitement for a tourney they've only watched before. "We've been following it since we were kids so now to be a part of it is pretty special."

Senior Ashlee Bridge with frosh Elan Brown and Gabby Smith.

Freshman Stephanie Holzer has recovered well enough for full practices.

Senior Lauren Lueders takes a shot.

Merideth Marsh with Hannah Tuomi and Jence Rhoads in a press conference.

A statue greets visitors to Cintas Center. Top Stories