'The Coolest Guy on the Team'

Senior guard Rodney Chatman leads Dores to victory on Shan Foster Night

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was a night that made Shan Foster smile in more ways than one.

Vanderbilt retired Foster’s jersey at halftime of the Commodores’ matchup with visiting No. 25 LSU on Saturday. In the halves of basketball before and after that ceremony Vandy played some of its best basketball before holding off the visiting Tigers to the tune of a 75-66 victory.

“We weren’t scared tonight,” Vanderbilt senior Rodney Chatman said. “We went out there and battled. It was a good look at what we can do the rest of the way.”

Chatman was sensational in leading Vandy in the scoring column. He finished with 24 – two off his career high – and made six 3s.

The Dayton transfer’s late triple with 3:27 to go took the drama out of a game that had increasingly became fingernail-bitingly close. LSU put together a 16-0 run to whittle a 21-point deficit down to five with 4:47 remaining.

Chatman wasn’t having any of that, though, and completely erased the memory of a scoreless outing Wednesday at No. 5 Kentucky with his best game of the season.

 “I just knew last game I wasn’t aggressive on the offensive end. So just tonight I wanted to be confident in my shot – I work on it every day,” Chatman said. “So just letting it fly. I feel confident, the guys are confident in me and it just felt good before the game so it translated to the game.”

A 6-foot-1, 215-pound Georgian, Chatman was also the catalyst in the first half thanks to his 16 points and four made 3-pointers. The Commodores (12-10, 4-6 SEC) built a 43-25 advantage going into the break as the Tigers tried to figure out what just hit ‘em.

That margin ballooned to 69-48 after Chatman’s uncontested layup with 9:47 on the clock. The Tigers scored 16 straight to close the gap to 69-64, but it was too little too late.

“This is a key win for us,” Vandy sophomore Myles Stute said. “Looking back at this season we let a few games go that we could have got and I think we really, really needed to get this one. Very glad that we did.

“I’m proud of the guys, the fight and tenacity we came out with was exactly what we need to do every single night in SEC play to win games.”

Foster, meanwhile, took in every moment. He thanked the Memorial Gymnasium crowd of 7,381 and expressed his unwavering love while wearing a white suit with a black shirt.

And he watched Chatman put on a Foster-esque shooting night with his nine made buckets in 34 minutes of action. His return the lineup has been a a huge boost to the Commodores as they approach the final leg of the regular season.

“I didn’t know if I was expecting him to get 24 a night, but I knew that he was a capable scorer. And he’s a winner,” Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “He was on a team that went 29-3 (at Dayton). So he knows what it feels like to come in the locker room victorious and I think he’s sharing that with these guys.

“He doesn’t get sped up. He’s definitely the coolest guy on the team. He’s always under control understanding what we want.”

Vanderbilt now turns its attention to Missouri (9-13, 3-6 SEC) which visits Nashville for an 8 p.m. game Tuesday. If the Dores could beat another team of Tigers they then can look up and find themselves on a winning streak for the first time in more than a month.

And if Chatman and the Commodores play the way they did Saturday, that streak will become reality.

“You win three games in a row and it changes everything – especially in our league,” Stackhouse said. “We got one and we know we got an opportunity to get a couple more this week.”

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.