NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Jerry Stackhouse Era has arrived on West End – finally – and officially.
Vanderbilt’s head coach and his team will make their debut at 7 p.m. Wednesday against visiting Southeast Missouri State at Memorial Gymnasium.
“I’m just excited to get going, just for our guys and what they’re looking to do,” Jerry Stackhouse said before Tuesday’s practice. “I honestly feel like we’ve worked, we’ve put ourselves in a good position. I don’t know if it’s butterflies or anything like that, but I just think it’s from a stance we’re ready to go and ready for (Wednesday) night. Ready for tipoff, ready for the moment, ready to get going finally. We’ve had a scrimmage, we’ve had an exhibition and now it’s about the real season. Things are on the line. How do we respond to that?”
Stackhouse won’t be the only new Commodore on the sidelines Wednesday. Freshmen Dylan Disu, Jordan Wright, Oton Jankovic and Scotty Pippen will also be making their debuts along with walk-ons Jon Jossell, Drew Weikert and Trace Arbuckle.
That group has joined seven returners who suffered through a 9-23 campaign last season – a season that included an 0-18 mark in the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt also begins this year on a 20-game losing streak overall.
“We’re looking to try to find some guys that can do what we ask them to do under pressure. Once we find that group we’re going to stick with it,” Stackhouse said. “Hopefully it’s nine or 10 of them – could be less. But they’re going to get an opportunity to see if they can be a part of what we need them to do on a night-to-night basis.”
The Commodores stretched their legs Friday in an exhibition win over Clark Atlanta, a Division II program. Five players scored in double figures in that 95-55 victory led by guards Saben Lee and Pippen who combined for 34 points, nine assists, eight steals and seven rebounds.
Vanderbilt also forced 28 turnovers and had a 19-11, assist-to-turnover ratio of its own. Numbers like that would certainly help Stackhouse in his endeavors to get his first career win.
“We’re excited. This is real exciting,” redshirt junior forward Matthew Moyer said. “Obviously we’ve worked hard this whole summer up to this point. It’s a real exciting feeling to get this thing started.
“We’re a tough team. And we’re a close-knit team. Nobody cares about the spotlight, nobody cares about the individual shine, it’s all about us. We know that if we can focus on us we’ll win games.”
Southeast Missouri State beat Lincoln University in an exhibition 74-56 and are coached by Rick Ray – Ray spent three seasons at Mississippi State (2012-15) where he went 2-3 against Vanderbilt. The Redhawks are coming off a 10-21 season.
Southeast and Vanderbilt have met just one previous time, a 76-71 Commodores win Dec. 5, 2001.
After Wednesday, the Commodores will return to Memorial Gymnasium to host Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 7 p.m. Monday.
“There’s still another that we need to get through in terms of live competition,” Stackhouse said. “I’m anxious to build on those reps, too. But I like where we are. They pull for each other.”