Bahamas Trip Strengthens Team Bond

Commodores fight through adversity in the Caribbean

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For the first time this season, the Vanderbilt women’s basketball team is on a losing streak. And for the first time this season head coach Stephanie White’s team has to focus on the bounce back.

“We had some adversity. We didn’t quite have time to adjust to that adversity (last week). Now we do,” White said after Tuesday’s practice. “And we’ve got figure out what that means and where we go from here. For me, the biggest portion of that is how we practice. How we cut. How we move. The pace. The intensity.”

The Commodores (5-3) returned to Nashville over the weekend after two defeats in the Bahamas – one to Rutgers and another to Seton Hall. Each setback was by six points or less, but a setback nonetheless.

Now Vandy will try to find the win column again at 7 p.m. Thursday when its hosts Tennessee Tech (4-3) inside Memorial Gymnasium.

“Now (our team), overall, is a young and inexperienced group in terms of being in those positions – but we were still in position to win games,” White said about the losses in the Bahamas. “It came down to execution, taking care of the ball, making free throws, getting big stops. In the fourth quarter I felt like both of those teams’ experience showed.”

Despite the losses in the Caribbean, the Commodores made the most of their time on international soil. Vandy arrived in Bimini, the Bahamas, last Tuesday for the Junkanoo Jam, got in a day of practice as well as some beach time before hitting the court.

White team’s then had a full day to soak up the sun Saturday before returning stateside Sunday.

“It was so much fun,” Vanderbilt freshman guard Koi Love said. “I don’t think a lot of us had been out of the country, so just to experience that together for the first time as a team was really cool. I think everybody just had a lot of fun and experienced something that they wouldn’t experience here in Nashville.

“Any time you go anywhere with our team it’s going to be an experience. I feel like everyone just really jells with each other, loves each other and loves to hang out with each other. It was just an amazing experience – coaches, staff, players, doctors, parents, kids – we all had a great time.”

After Thursday’s contest, Vanderbilt will be off for nine days before welcoming in Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 15. The Dores then travel to Seattle a few days later to play UC Irvine and Washington, respectively.




Vanderbilt will be without two of its key players for the immediate future.

White confirmed Tuesday that both Brinae Alexander and Kyndall Golden will be out indefinitely due to injury. Golden left a Nov. 22 win over Furman with a knee injury and Alexander departed with a foot injury early in Vandy’s loss to Rutgers last week in the Bahamas.

“I think for us, we’re going to have a new normal without (Alexander) on the floor,” White said. “It’s easy for people to look at her production, but the production is just part of it. It’s the way she did everything. Her intensity. Her toughness. She’s got dog in her.

“What we need from more people is the consistency aspect from that. And that happens in practice. We don’t need one person to make up for (Alexander’s) production.”

Alexander, a starting forward, was Vanderbilt’s second leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. The sophomore from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was also averaging 3.3 rebounds per contest and shooting 50 percent from the field.

This season Alexander scored 20 points in a win over Jacksonville State, 17 points in a win over Saint Louis and 17 points in a win over Furman.

“It’s about next player stepping up,” Love said. “Everyone has got to better than they were before and more what they have before to fill in the gaps for what we’ve lost.”

Golden, a freshman forward, had came into five games off the bench and scored three points to go along with seven rebounds before her injury.