NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On paper, Jerry Stackhouse is starting Year 2 as the Vanderbilt men’s basketball head coach. In actuality, maybe it’s Year 1.
One could argue the 2019-20 season was ground zero for Stackhouse and his staff. A limited roster in terms of the number of available student-athletes and season-ending injuries to a pair of starters put the Commodores behind the 8-ball a bit.
Now, as the 2020-21 season inches near, Vandy has 17 Commodores available to make an impact. That’s a great talking point for Stackhouse to start with.
“I think we want to go as deep as it allows us. I think you want to have a good, solid backup at every position. With the all the starters I feel like we can sub at every position and feel comfortable about that – I think we got a chance to be deeper than that.
“It’s a good problem to have. That’s on me to try to figure out those rotations and what’s best for the team.”
Not only does Stackhouse have a full roster for 2020-21, he also has 11 Dores who were in the program a season ago and six who made significant on-court contributions. They will all be looking to build upon an 11-win season and get Vanderbilt back to the winning success it had enjoyed for so many years.
A good mix of returners and newcomers has equated to a competitive preseason thus far for a team intent on making some noise in the coming months.
“It’s been good to have some guys that understand what’s going on like Scotty (Pippen) and Dylan (Disu),” Stackhouse said. “They really have emerged as leaders. In the early going with the young guys, they’re over-thinking everything, trying to make sure that they understand.
“I think that now that they’re understanding, we’re starting to compete a little bit. You’re starting to see who really has that mentality to really get out there and compete and who can do certain things.”
Also returning is guard DJ Harvey and forward Quentin Millora-Brown, transfers who sat out last season, and center Clevon Brown who missed the 2019-20 season due to injury. True freshmen Tyrin Lawrence, Myles Stute and Trey Thomas provide even more depth and Kansas transfer Issac McBride was recently ruled eligible for another boost at the guard position.
Because Vandy will have an array of shooters in the starting lineup and coming off the bench, Stackhouse knows the possibilities of who the Commodores can become.
“We want to take advantage of the 3s,” he said. “With the guys that we’re bringing in, a couple of guys that we’re signing, some of their main attributes are being able to shoot the ball.
“So we want to spread the floor and that’s going to be our theme going forward. I think it’s always kind of been a part of Vanderbilt’s history with some of their best teams being able to have great shooters. I think we’re going to continue that trend.”
Vanderbilt is still finalizing its nonconference schedule before beginning league play Dec. 30. While it works to figure out those logistics off the floor, Stackhouse will continue to evaluate his team on the floor – a team much different than the first one he coached.
And that’s reason enough to be excited.
“That’s a beautiful thing to have it a little bit different than where we were last year at this time,” he said.
Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.