Wednesday, February 21, 2007

2003-2004 Team vs. 2006-2007 Team

A bandwagon Vanderbilt fan just asked me a very good question that I wanted to pose to the group. He asked "Is this the best Vanderbilt team you've ever seen?" Now, my frame of reference is limited to teams from this millennium (as I am sure is the case with most of our readers). But its a interesting to compare this team to the 2003-2004 team led by Matt Freije that made it to the Sweet 16. While I think a final verdict cannot be reached until the season is over, it seems like something worth discussing.



Anonymous said...

I have had the pleasure of enjoying three great Vanderbilt teams over my active Dore days - pretty much one per decade until the new millennium

1) We had a great team in like 1974 when I was in school, with Jan VBK, Bill Ligon, Terry Compton, Lee Fowler (now AD at NC State) that overlapped a couple of years with the "F Troop" (Fosnes, Ford, and Feher). That was back when Skinner was coach and you had to win the SEC in the regular season to advance to the (Much Smaller) Dance: no SEC tournament and no at-large bids. No 3-point shot either, of course.

We beat Bama in Tuscaloosa to win the SEC. I went BACK to Tuscaloosa for the NCAA Regional, where we lost to Marquette coached by Al McGuire. We students were obnoxious and McGuire pouted about that over the PA when he accepted the trophy.

2) Then in the mid-1980's, Coach C.M Newton had Will Perdue (later Chicago Bulls), Barry Goheen and that crew. I went to Detroit and saw the Dores lose to Danny Manning and eventual national champion Kansas.

3) In the 1990's, Eddie Fogler had a great team with two transfers: Billy McAffrey from Duke and Chris Lawson from Indiana. We won te SEC regular season that year but no NCAA trip for moi: I was busy raising three little future Dores of own.

Letting Fogler walk over money was one of the two stupidest things I've seen the school do (in basketball). The other was not admitting Ron Mercer, who had always wanted to be a Dore his whole life, and letting him be an All-American at Kentucky instead. This why I wasn't too sad when we eliminated the AD and let Turner go.

4) Now, of course, it looks like TWO NCAA runs in the same decade - and maybe more! I like the current team better than the Frieje team, because they share something in common with those other three teams: you can see your scoring coming – even in the clutch – from just about any position on the floor.

Seamus O'Toole said...

I agree with tackerdad. This 2006-2007 team is top-to-bottom better than the 2003-2004 team in terms of athleticism, defensive tenacity (even though our scoring defense still isn't where it should be), and "want-to." Derrick Byars has been huge for this year's team, but he's not the "put the team on your back and carry them to victory" player that Freije was for much of that season. We have a lot of weapons.

I do miss Cory Smith, though. The 03-04 team had more interesting personalities - between Dawid and Super Mario, they were a fascinating bunch. This year the guys probably have more cohesion. Certainly they seem to jell on the court, and from every interview I've read it sounds like they're having a lot of fun together. That's good. It's supposed to be fun, dog-gone-it.

Stanimal said...

The 2003-2004 team that made it to the sweet 16 was a superb squad. As with everyone else, I am hesitant to label this team as better because their conclusion is resolute, where as at this point ours is not.

What I will say is this, and it is something that I mentioned at the beginning of the season either before or in the midst of our horrendous start. This team is much more talented and much more well-rounded. Just look at the starting line-ups. Mario Moore, Jason Holwerda, Matt Freije, Corey Smith, and Dawid Przyb*S*S (I know how to say it but forgot how to spell it). Now, Alex Gordon, Derrick Byars, Shan Foster, Dan Cage, and Ross Neltner, with support from Alan Metcalfe, and "Dolla" Beals.

Don't get me wrong, I love the heroes of '04, but I look at what Vandy has now and it's just clear that recruiting has brought us greater talent this year. Gordon is much smarter with the ball than Moore, Byars is more of an all-around scorer than Freije's spot shooting style, and Foster is a much more complete three man than Smith (though you gotta live the fight in Corey Smith).

To cap off my point, does anyone remember how HUGE a deal it was when Holwerda actually dunked the ball? I won't name the game because it only happened once and you should know what I'm talking about. Memorial Gym exploded. Compare that to Byars' reverse windmill jam which was #7 on ESPN's Plays of the Week. I think that solidifies my point.

Douglas James said...

I agree this team is much more athletic and Byars and Foster are as good a 1-2 punch as i've seen at Vandy. I'm not sure which way i would go but in defense of the Sweet-16 team, Freije was one of the most clutch guys i have ever seen. The come back against NC State was the best sports moment of my life. Byars is emerging as that talent but i still don't "Expect" him to take over the game like Matt did whenever we needed it. Also the current SEC is much weaker than it was in 2004 (at least the West def is). Finally no way Frieje would have let us lose to Furman at home. That still kills me!!!!

Old Prospector said...

For those of you who have only been following the team for a decade, go back and check out how dominating the 92-93 team was. I didn't expect that team to lose on any night. That was far and away the best Vandy team I remember.