Vanderbilt fans had a fun year of hoops to enjoy. The Commodores contended in the SEC, made a run at the league's prohibitive favorites, flashed a lot of talent, guile and poise, and, for all that, ultimately ended the season in disappointment. That end came in the first round of the NCAA tournament, at the hands of the No. 12-seed Richmond Spiders. It was Vanderbilt's third-straight early exit at the hands of a double-digit seed. It was, no doubt, a bitter pill to swallow.
But turn those frowns upside down, 'Dores faithful, because today's a good news day. That's right: On Wednesday, the school announced that all three prospective NBA entrants -- guards John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor and forward Festus Ezeli -- will be returning for another year in Nashville.
According to the release's included quotes, there's a common theme at work here. It can be summed up in a word: dissatisfaction.
“We’re going to be a better team next year, and we still have a lot of unfinished business,” said Ezeli. “After the loss in the tournament, I can’t leave on that note. ..."
“I’m not too happy with the way the season ended in March,” said Jenkins. “I think we all have a sour taste in our mouths from that experience in Denver."
In case it wasn't totally clear, Vanderbilt's players are not happy with the way their season ended. Which, for Vanderbilt fans, turns out to be a very good thing. Ezeli, Jenkins and Taylor are the three best players on what was already a very solid team, and there's reason to expect improvement -- especially from Ezeli, a breakout interior force in 2010-11 -- next season. Meanwhile, Jenkins and Taylor might compete for SEC player of the year honors; Jenkins spent most of 2011 shooting his way into that discussion.
So, yeah, good news for the Commodores, bad news for the rest of the SEC. We'll see if Vanderbilt can redeem itself with a tournament run next March.