DAYTON, Ohio (WKRN) – It’s a huge game Tuesday night for Vanderbilt University, who barely made it in to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
They’ll be facing Wichita State in Dayton, Ohio, a team that has a lot of something Vanderbilt doesn’t, which is NCAA Tournament experience.
The Commodores had to sweat out an invite just to get the game in Dayton. It was an extra game their opponent won’t have to play.
But can it be used as an advantage, getting an early start?
“If we can be successful in the game then, yeah, I would look at it as a bonus because you kind of get whatever nerves you have, or whatever newness or inexperience you have, coming into a situation like this, you get that kind of chipped off,” said head coach Kevin Stallings.
While everyone on the Wichita Shockers’ roster has been to the tournament except one player, the Commodores only have one with that experience.
“Our guys are going to have to settle into this game quickly and the nerves are going to have to subside, and we’re going to have get into this game and play it because Wichita State will be playing from the opening tip, and we’re going to have to do the same,” Stallings told News 2.
Sixth-year senior Josh Henderson has been to the NCAA Tournament twice, and is continuing a tradition set by the 2012 team, getting what he called “parts” shaved into the side of his head.
“The funniest thing for me was going into the barbershop and I had no idea what I was actually going to say, so I had to practice my terms, you know, getting the fade with the two and then getting three parts, so that’s what I had to practice,” Henderson told News 2 with a laugh.
“I thought about going in and just asking for the dummy part, but you know it worked out and I get the terms right, so shout out Ike at N’wani’s [Barber and Styles],” the senior added.
We’ll have to wait and see whether or not Henderson’s tournament experience is as advantage.
He did tell News 2 he could be a calming presence for a team that could have a lot of nerves in their first tournament game.