SEC Basketball Media Day: Vanderbilt

This season, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings is forced to rebuild after the departure of veteran leaders Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor. All three players were NBA Draft picks, leaving the Commodores without a projected senior starter on a very young squad.

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings

On the young players and how the team has practiced so far:

“I think they’ve done well. We haven’t had Josh Henderson yet in practice because of a reoccurring foot problem, but we’re hopeful of having him here pretty soon. It’s been a little bit of a makeshift thing, but Rod Odom has looked very good. Shelby Moats has had some nice moments. We’re not as deep as we’ve been, but I’m hopeful that when Josh gets back, we’ll have enough to do what we need to do to be successful.”

On the coaching challenges of losing a lot of experience from last season to this season:

“It’s an entirely different proposition. We lost our top six guys. Our leading returning scorer averaged 3.5 points per game. It’s just an entirely new proposition, but we’ve done this before. We’ve had significant turnover on teams in the past, so we know how to deal with it. I think the biggest difference is we have nobody on this year’s team that will be in a role anywhere similar to the one they had a year ago. Everything is going to ratchet up for all these guys, and that’s part of what makes college basketball coaching exciting because you do have some turnover. We’re not as talented as we’ve been. There’s no question about that. At the same time, I think these guys are excited to embrace their opportunity to be players of impact in our program. Even though the talent is different, the expectation is not. We have a standard that we’ve been able to set and identify in our program that’s worked for us, and hopefully our guys understand very well that we’re not going to compromise or lower our standard even though we’ve had a great deal of turnover.”

On who in the backcourt has distinguished himself:

“I would say Kedren Johnson has been the guy that, of our perimeter players, has essentially stepped forward and identified himself as a guy we can play through and go to. He’s a talented offensive player. He has an atypical point guard body. He weighs about 215 pounds, and he carries that weight well, and he still runs and drives and can move the weight and move his body well. He’s deceptively fast. I think Kedren is a guy that we’ll be able to count on. He and Rod (Odom) will have to be able to play well for our team to have the chance that we want to have.”

Courtesy of SEC Digital Network