By Les Johns | @KernelJohns
Nashville, Tenn. — Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium is but a two-mile drive away from Bridgestone Arena, home of the 2013 SEC Tournament.
But UK is the likely beneficiary of a home-like crowd, not the Commodores, according to Vandy head coach Kevin Stallings.
“I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be more people in blue than in black and gold, and there’s two teams in black and gold (both Vandy and Missouri),” Stallings said Wednesday. “We wish this was a home court advantage for us. I don’t know what it will be, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Stallings reflected on his team’s successful run in the SEC Tournament in New Orleans last year.
“We were talking about this as a staff today — there were about 19,000 Kentucky fans and about 500 from Vanderbilt,” Stallings said. “Aside from Kentucky, it’s not going to be overwhelming by any fan base, in my opinion, ours included.”
What is commonly referred to as the “big blue mist,” of fans coming to the games does have an impact, according to Stallings.
“You feel like you’re playing them on a home court. A lot of times it’s just Rupp Arena transferred to a different city. You have to admire the way their fans support and travel and do those things,” Stalling said. “But even at that, the other team can still win, which fortunately we were able to prove last year.”
The Commodores being outnumbered in the stands by UK fans will be even more significant if Vandy defeats Arkansas Thursday night. They would move on to face the Cats Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the SEC tourney quarterfinals.
As for now, however, Vandy prepares for the Razorbacks — and the daily grind of class.
“We’re in class, we have to go about our regular day and then go to the game as we do on our home games,” Vanderbilt junior forward Rod Odom said. “So I think it kind of evens out with the other guys having free time before the game, we’re in class.”
In class during the SEC Tournament?
“If we’re in Nashville, they will go to class — that is correct,” Stallings said.