RESULTS| STATS| HISTORY | MESSAGE BOARD | VANDERBILT INSIDER
RECORD: - REGION: Phoenix SEED: 6|
COACH: Kevin Stallings CONFERENCE: SEC
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
|REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS
TO THIS POINT
How They Got Here: Matt Frieje, who had put together some underwhelming postseason performances going back to the SEC tournament, came alive at the right time in the second round of the Phoenix Regional, leading his sixth-seeded Vanderbilt team to
an upset of No. 3 seed North Carolina State. Frieje, a first-team All-SEC player, scored 31 points in the Commodores' victory that puts them on a
collision course with UConn, the team that was a consensus preseason No. 1.
The Huskies didn't quite dominate the regular season the way they were
expected to, but winning the Big East Tournament championship propelled them
into the Big Dance with some momentum. Vanderbilt, too, has some momentum, having made the most of their first NCAA
Tournament trip in coach Kevin Stallings' tenure. Can the Commodores handle the Huskies, who have the best center in the
country in Emeka Okafor and one of the nation's most dynamic shooting guards in Ben Gordon? UConn has other weapons as well, including a veteran point guard in Taliek Brown and a host of quality young post players behind Okafor, most notably Charlie Villanueva.
The Commodores have size themselves in the 6-9 Friejie and 7-2 center Dawid Przybyszewski, but neither is among the most physical players in the
country. Still, Friejie and tough to defend. Both prefer to drift out to the perimeter and are deadly 3-point shooters. Occasionally, but perhaps not
as often as Stallings would like, both can do some damage inside. Against UConn, Przybyszewski and Friejie might be useful doing what comes naturally,
shooting from the perimeter and drawing Okafor away from the basket. With a path to the hoop cleared, Vanderbilt has several players, notably guard
Mario Moore and swingmen Scott Hundley and Jason Holwerda, who can slash to the rack and score.
Before making the Sweet 16, just going 8-8 in the SEC this season wasn't easy. But at least the Commodores beat the right teams at home: Kentucky, Florida and LSU. The victory over the Wildcats put Vandy among the SEC's elite this season, but losses to the likes of Tennessee and at Arkansas had some wondering if Vandy would be slighted by the committee. Well, the concerns were put to rest in the SEC tourney when Vandy upset SEC champion Mississippi State in overtime. A 22-point loss to Florida the next day in the semis? Well, that's called a hangover.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Matt Freije | F | Senior
A first-team all-SEC selection, Freije is the reason Vandy is once again dancing. Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer, Freije averaged over 20 points a game down the stretch, as the Commodores won six of those games to clinch a bid. Freije led Vanderbilt in soring 18 times this season and tied his career-high with 32 points twice.