Kevin Stallings

Luke Kornet, Jaleel Hogan
Associated Press

Knee injury sidelines Vanderbilt’s Luke Kornet

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Just before their game against Dayton Wednesday night, the Vanderbilt basketball program announced that they’ll be without one of their starting big men for the next four to six weeks.

Junior Luke Kornet has been ruled out after he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee in practice earlier this week. With the announced timetable the Commodores will have begun SEC play when Kornet is able to return to the lineup.

Alongside fellow junior Damian Jones, Kornet is a big man capable of stepping away from the basket in order to help with the Commodores’ spacing on the offensive end. Kornet’s currently third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding with averages of 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The 7-foot-1 Kornet currently leads Vanderbilt in blocked shots, averaging 2.8 per contest.

Without Kornet, Jeff Roberson and Josh Henderson stand to see their playing time increase, and freshman Semir Sehic (8.3 mpg) may also be able to earn more opportunities. Vanderbilt has depth inside, which will help them account for the loss of Kornet as the start of SEC play approaches.

Freshman guard Shelton Mitchell to leave Vanderbilt program

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Vanderbilt went with a youth movement of sorts this season with a host of underclassmen going through what amounted to a “trial by fire” under head coach Kevin Stallings, and that’s expected to benefit the Commodores over the long haul.

One player who won’t be around to see the rebuilding process out is point guard Shelton Mitchell, who has decided to transfer. The news was announced by the Vanderbilt program Thursday morning, and Mitchell will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2015-16 campaign at the school of his choosing.

“I have decided to transfer from Vanderbilt for personal reasons,” Mitchell said in the release. “I loved my basketball experience at Vanderbilt playing for Coach Stallings and his staff and with a great group of guys we have on this team.  

“However, I feel it is in my best interests to continue my college education elsewhere. I want to thank Coach, the fans, and my teammates for the support they’ve given me during my stay at Vanderbilt.”

Mitchell started 11 of the 31 games in which he played in 2014-15, averaging 4.3 points and 3.3 assists in 20 minutes of action per contest. He was one of three guards utilized by Stallings in the role of playmaker, with classmates Wade Baldwin IV and Riley LaChance being the others (and LaChance was the team’s best perimeter shooter).

Those two return in 2015-16, as does classmate Matthew Fisher-Davis, and the Commodores add two more guards in freshman Camron Justice and Cornell transfer Nolan Cressler. Cressler averaged 16.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 2013-14 at Cornell. Given their perimeter depth Vanderbilt will be able to absorb the loss of Mitchell, and their deep front court led by rising junior Damian Jones makes the Commodores a possible Top 25 team in 2015-16.

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings will not be suspended


Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings berated freshman guard Wade Baldwin IV on Thursday night for an unsportsmanlike act in the closing seconds of the Commodores’ 73-65 win over Tennessee.

Stallings was caught on camera saying, “I’ll f***ing kill you.” Stallings was quick to apologize to Baldwin following the incident.

On Friday afternoon, the university decided it would not suspend its head basketball coach, according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.

“After the game, an incident occurred in which I need to apologize for,” Stallings said on Thursday night following the incident. “One of our players acted inappropriately and violated what we believe is good sportsmanship following the game,” Stallings said following the game.

“In my haste to resolve the situation, I made a very inappropriate comment. While obviously it was not meant literally, it was still inappropriate. I apologized to the player immediately following the game, although displaying good sportsmanship is of the highest priority in our program.”

Baldwin was seen clapping in Amani Moore’s face as Moore was walking to the Tennessee bench. Irritated by the gesture, a Tennessee assistant coach alerted Stallings in the postgame handshake line to what had transpired moments earlier.

“Wade’s got some things to learn, some growing up to do if he’s going to play in this program,” Stallings said via David Cobb of Knoxville News Sentinel. One of their assistants said he went and clapped in one of their players faces after the game. We will not do that, not get by with that. We believe in sportsmanship, and that’s not part of who we are, who we’re going to be. He better understand that’s his one and it better never happen again.”

Baldwin posted on Twitter that he took no offense from the incident.

Vanderbilt hosts Alabama on Saturday evening.

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings apologizes for postgame outburst directed at freshman guard Wade Baldwin IV

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Following his team’s 73-65 win at Tennessee Thursday night, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings issued an apology for the words he directed at freshman guard Wade Baldwin IV in the postgame handshake line.

“After the game, an incident occurred in which I need to apologize for. One of our players acted inappropriately and violated what we believe is good sportsmanship following the game,” Stallings said following the game.

“In my haste to resolve the situation, I made a very inappropriate comment. While obviously it was not meant literally, it was still inappropriate. I apologized to the player immediately following the game, although displaying good sportsmanship is of the highest priority in our program.”

As the two teams were leaving the floor and joining the handshake line Baldwin clapped his hands and taunted Tennessee’s Armani Moore. In the line a Tennessee assistant told Stallings of his player’s actions, and it’s safe to say that the head coach was none too pleased with Baldwin. Stallings pulled the guard out of the handshake line and demanded he apologize to Moore, and that wasn’t all he had to say either.

Below is a video clip of the sequence (video credit: ESPN).

The words Stallings apologized for was his exclamation of “I’ll ****ing kill you” as he and Baldwin were walking through the remainder of the handshake line. On his Twitter account, Baldwin stated that he “felt no offense” to anything his coach said on the court.

Vanderbilt has three players dealing with concussions

Jalen Palm, Shelby Moats
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source: AP

Vanderbilt is dealing with a number of head injuries as three players on the roster currently deal with concussions issues. According to a report from Adam Sparks of The Tennessean, senior Shelby Moats and freshmen Shelton Mitchell and Jeff Roberson all have issues with concussions to varying degrees.

Since Moats is a senior, his career is in jeopardy, according to head coach Kevin Stallings, while Mitchell and Roberson are going through limited practices and could return soon.

“Shelby does not look anywhere close to being back, and he may miss the rest of the season,” Stallings said to Sparks. “Jeff and Shelton are both close at this juncture, provided there are no setbacks. I think there’s a concern, particularly on Shelby’s part. With this being the second one, he is a little bit leery of it happening again.

“Everyone is much more sensitive to the concussion issue right now. As coaches, we joke around and say, ‘We used to call it a headache, and now they call it a concussion.’ But I made a deal a long time ago with the training staff: I don’t try to tell them about injuries, and they don’t try to tell me about basketball.”

Moats is a 6-foot-8 senior forward who has appeared in nine games this season, averaging only 4.2 minutes per game.

Mitchell is a 6-foot-3 guard and has appeared in 22 games and averages 4.6 points and 3.6 assists per game. Roberson is a 6-foot-6 forward averaging 20.5 minutes, 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Vanderbilt’s rebuilding process to rely heavily on underclasmen

Kevin Stallings
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Over the last two seasons Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings has dealt with a significant amount of turnover within his program. There have been transfers, dismissals and even a player returning to his native Germany to begin his professional career. Those changes have resulted in the Commodores fielding one of the youngest rosters in the SEC, with five freshmen joining the program and their leading returning scorer being sophomore Damian Jones.

During the team’s media day Wednesday Stallings discussed the state of his program, with much of the conversation focused on the newcomers and how they’ve begun their careers at Vanderbilt. In a story written by Adam Sparks of The Tennessean, Stallings spoke about the freshmen in relation to players who have left the program before their eligibility expired in recent years.

“I guess I wouldn’t be able to answer that question without being derogatory to the people that have been here,” Stallings said. “We’ve got guys that will do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it, and they’re going to try their best to do what we as coaches want. I think for that reason, the future is really bright for this group of guys because our entire team is that way.

“I haven’t had to worry about something on the weekend, haven’t had to worry about anything in the classroom, haven’t had to worry about anything in the dorm, and it’s a pretty fun job when the biggest thing I have to worry about is trying to get them better on defense. That’s where we’re at, and that’s where we’re going to stay.”

The five freshmen in the Vanderbilt program aren’t lacking for talent either, with Wade Baldwin IV and Shelton Mitchell leading the quintet. They’ll certainly take their lumps, and with that being the case veterans such as Jones and senior James Siakam will need to do their part to help the freshmen get acclimated to Division I basketball.

After two seasons of instability in Nashville, the hope is that this group of underclassmen can help place Vanderbilt back on solid ground. Based upon Stallings’ words at media day, it seems as if they’re off to a decent start. The key now is to ensure that this remains the case once the season begins.