Vanderbilt Reveals Timelines For New Basketball Facility

Graphic courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt University has relabeled the detailed plans for the men’s and women’s basketball operations center and practice facility as part of its Vandy United campaign.

Utility relocation work is scheduled to begin this summer and continue through the fall to support the construction of the north end zone facility. Construction activities for the building will begin during the upcoming football season and are expected to conclude before the start of the 2024 football season.

“We want to provide a championship-level experience to everyone we serve. That starts with the student-athletes but also includes our alumni, fans, donors, faculty and staff,” says Candice Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director.

Since publicly announcing the $300 million Vandy United campaign a little more than a year ago, Vanderbilt has worked closely with Populous, lead architect for the project, to refine and finalize designs for the initial phase.

“This is the first step in a transformation. It will be iconic and beautiful, yet effective and efficient,” Lee continues. “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to impact Vanderbilt Athletics and help position our student-athletes and community for success.”

The new basketball facility will be located beyond the north end zone of Vanderbilt Stadium and encompass 90,000 square feet and four floors. Design plans include two practice courts, locker rooms and offices for women’s head coach Shea Ralph, men’s head coach Jerry Stackhouse and their respective staffs.

“We truly see Vandy United as our stake in the ground,” says Ralph. “It marks the beginning of a new era and is proof of our commitment to elevate the best student-athlete experience in college athletics and take our fan experience to the next level.”

The student-athletes will also have access to a weight room, training room and equipment area to be used by both teams, as well as a dedicated nutrition space.

“For our program, being able to have world-class facilities from the standpoint of training, getting all the top equipment, being able to have more [practice] courts—they all create more opportunity for our student-athletes to get better in their development,” says Stackhouse. “Their [Candice Lee’s and Chancellor Daniel Diermeier’s] commitment and the commitment of all the coaches to take our programs to the next level are unmatched. You’re going to see that in the future with our new buildings and new equipment we’ll have available for our student-athletes.”

The building will be connected to Memorial Gymnasium, the Commodores’ home court, which now features newly renovated game day locker rooms for both teams. This connection also will allow fans and patrons access to both facilities on game days.

“We are excited about so many aspects of Vanderbilt basketball,” Lee adds. “Watching day to day, we see how Coach Stackhouse and Coach Ralph interact and support each other. This building represents the tone of those programs. Everybody has their own space, but there is a shared aspect. And it is connected to the broader athletics footprint that supports all our student-athletes.”

As part of the north end zone upgrades associated with the project, the concourses will connect to allow fans to move around Vanderbilt Stadium with ease. There will be terrace and balcony viewing areas on the upper levels of the basketball center for guests during football game days.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Most-Watched Season Finale in Nearly Two Decades

South Carolina’s women’s basketball team celebrating its NCAA Tournament Championship. Photo: Courtesy of ESPN

South Carolina’s 64-49 win over UConn in the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship became the most-watched women’s title game since 2004, racking in 4.85 million viewers on Sunday night (April 3).

The championship was the fourth largest audience to watch a women’s championship game since ESPN began exclusively airing the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in 1996.

“ESPN’s commitment to women’s basketball has never been stronger and this year’s viewership numbers are a clear indication of the growing popularity of the sport and the NCAA Women’s Tournament,” says Nick Dawson, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions. “Since ESPN began exclusively televising this event more than two decades ago, we have consistently strived to raise the bar in our presentation, and we are particularly gratified by our expanded coverage and the introduction of new elements like the MegaCast this year. We look forward to working with the NCAA to further enhance our presentation in the years ahead.”

The 4.85 million viewers tuning in across ESPN networks Sunday was the most-watched cable program of the day, an audience increase of 18% year-over-year and 30% from 2019. The matchup peaked from 9-9:15 p.m. CT with 5.91 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, as South Carolina captured its second national title during ESPN’s MegaCast presentation.

The 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four is the most-watched Final Four weekend since 2012, averaging 3.46 million viewers. The audience for the trio of games throughout the weekend was up 20% from 2021.

The full NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament averaged 634,000 viewers per game, up 16% from last year’s coverage. The total hours of consumption were up 6% year-over-year, with viewers devouring 74.6 million hours of content across ESPN platforms, roughly 4.1 million more hours compared to 2021.

The 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament experienced several additional viewership milestones throughout, including:

  • The most-consumed early rounds on record
  • The most-watched early round window in more than 10 years
  • The most-watched Sweet 16 game on cable since 2017
  • The most-watched Elite Eight round in more than 10 years
  • The most-watched Elite Eight game in more than 10 years

Lady Raiders Fall To Seton Hall 74-73 In WNIT Semifinals

Kseniya Malashka. Photo: Courtesy of MT Athletics

The Lady Raiders’ strong second half wasn’t enough to overtake Seton Hall whose last second bucket secured the 74-73 win over MTSU on Thursday night (March 31).

“We never quit,” head coach Rick Insell said in a postgame press conference. “They made some plays at the end. They executed two or three times in a row and we had a couple of breakdowns. I’m very proud of our young ladies. I hate it for our fans, our school, and our team. They did everything they could do to win this game.”

The Pirates took a strong early lead over MTSU at the Murphy Center 38-26 going into halftime. Hall was led by Sidney Cooks who scored 28 points and rebounded seven. But the Lady Raiders came out of halftime with a vengeance.

MTSU scored 24 points in the third quarter and 23 points in the fourth quarter, outscoring Seton Hall 47-36. The Lady Raiders were led by Kseniya Malashka who dropped 25 points and rebounded nine on 28 minutes played. Dor Saar scored 19 points in an attempt to pull off the comeback victory.

In the final quarter, MTSU went on an 11-0 run to take the lead. After some back-and-fourth play, the Lady Raiders found themselves up four with 23 seconds to play. But a hard fought drive, layup and-1 from the Pirates, and a tie-up on the next possession gave Seton Hall the ball with 16 seconds to go. Cooks then scored on a heavily contested shot, giving Hall the lead with 2.4 seconds left.

Malashka was the one to take the final shot to win the game, but fell short, with the Pirates punching their ticket to the WNIT Finals.

“I thought she got a body down low, and they didn’t make a call,” Insell added. “She went in and was able to get the ball up, but I still think there was too stuff much going on underneath. I’m still proud of [Malashka], she did exactly what we wanted to do.”

The Lady Raiders finish their season 27-8 with a home record of 16-1. Their historic WNIT may have come to an end but not before picking up wins against Wofford, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Toledo.

Belmont’s Nick Muszynski To Play In NABC Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game

Nick Muszynski. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont senior Nick Muszsynki will have one more opportunity to represent the Bruins as he plays in the NABC Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game in New Orleans ahead of the Final Four.

Muszynski has had one of the most successful career in the history of Belmont’s men’s basketball program. Posting a career record of 104-25, Muszynski led Belmont to three conference regular season championships, two NCAA Tournament bids and the 2022 postseason NIT. He was named the OVC Freshman of the Year in 2019, OVC Tournament MVP in 2020 and has been named to the All-OVC First Team each of his four years.

The 6’11” center ranks 11th among all active frontcourt players with 1,886 points. His 105 career double figure scoring games ranks second among all active frontcourt players, trailing only Richmond’s Grant Golden. He is one of only nine players over the last 30 years with at least 1,800 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists and 200 blocked shots, and joins the likes of Tim Duncan (Wake Forest), David West (Xavier), Nick Collison (Kansas) and John Wallace (Syracuse) to reach that standard.

Muszynksi is the first Belmont Bruins to take part in the NABC Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game since All-American Evan Bradds in 2017.

He will play with the West All-Star Team led by Missouri head coach Dennis Gates. His teammates include Davion Mintz (Kentucky), Stanley Umude (Arkansas) and Gabe Brown (Michigan State).

College Corner: Jerry Stackhouse, Lady Blue Raiders WNIT, Belmont Soccer

Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse Named Finalist For Ben Jobe Award

Jerry Stackhouse. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt basketball head coach Jerry Stackhouse was named a finalist for the Ben Jobe award after a successful NIT run.

The Ben Jobe award is presented annually to the top Division I minority coach by College Insider. Stackhouse is one of 25 finalists for this year’s award.

This past season, Stackhouse guided the Commodores to 19 wins, the most since the 2016-17 season. Now in his third season, Vandy is the only SEC program to improve its NCAA net ranking in reach of the last three seasons.

Vanderbilt won two games at the SEC Tournament before earning an at-large bid to the NIT. The Dores capped the season in the NIT Quarterfinals after wins over Belmont and top-seeded Dayton in the first two rounds.

The winner of the award will be announced April 1 in New Orleans at the NCAA Final Four.



MTSU Women’s Basketball To Host Seton Hall In WNIT Semifinals

MTSU Lady Raiders. Photo: Emily Cole/MT Athletics

The Lady Raiders of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) have punched their ticket to the WNIT semifinals for the first time in program history after a thrilling 73-71 overtime win against Toledo.

MTSU, now with a record of 27-7, will host Big East powerhouse Seton Hall in the semifinals on Thursday (March 31).

The intense and exciting Toledo matchup included 17 lead changes and 15 ties, with the largest lead for either team coming in at eight points in the first quarter. However, the Lady Raiders held strong, never trailing in overtime.

“Great, great game between two quality teams,” Lady Raider Head Coach Rick Insell said in a postgame press conference. “This was a great atmosphere and that’s what you expect when you reach this point of a postseason tournament. We knew it would take a great effort to come in here and win against a very good and well-coached Toledo team. I’m excited for our team and our fans, but I’m proud of how this team responded tonight.”

Middle Tennessee takes on the Pirates at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. All tickets are general admission and can be purchased for $20 each.



Belmont Soccer Hires Cam Olsen As Assistant Coach

Belmont men’s soccer head coach David Costa has named Cam Olson as the program’s new assistant coach.

Olson comes to Belmont following a season at the Patriot League’s Bucknell University and brings four seasons of collegiate coaching experience to the Bruins.

“We want to welcome Cam and his wife, Katelynn, to Belmont,” says Costa. “We are thrilled to add someone of his character, quality and experience. Cam is a man of high character and will have a strong impact on our student-athletes and their experience at Belmont.”

On a collegiate coaching staff the past seven years, Olson spent the last six seasons with NCAA Division I men’s soccer programs, including Xavier and Vermont, in addition to Bucknell.

While on staff at Xavier, the program compiled 33 match wins and earned results against numerous ranked opponents. Xavier reached the Big East Conference Championship title match in 2017, was ranked in the national top 25, advanced to three consecutive Big East Championships and earned a United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for four-straight years. The Musketeers’ 2019 recruiting class was ranked seventh nationally by and Xavier rose to No. 11 in the nation.

Lady Vols Tournament Run Ends With 76-64 Loss To Louisville

Rae Burrell. Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

The Lady Volunteers’ successful 2022 season came to an end this weekend, losing to No. 1 seeded Louisville 76-64 in the Sweet Sixteen in Wichita, Kansas on Saturday (March 26).

Tennessee and Louisville started off relatively even. The Cardinals took an early 19-13 lead after the first quarter, but a massive second quarter from Louisville gave them a 39-28 lead. After halftime, the Lady Vols scored 22 points, cutting Louisville’s lead to 55-50. But this wasn’t enough to pull off an upset as the Cardinals scored 21 points in the final quarter, solidifying their trip to the Elite Eight.

“You never know when that last game is coming. It’s always so abrupt,” said Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper in a postgame press conference. “I’m disappointed that we don’t get to keep playing basketball because this group has been so much fun to coach and work with every day. But Louisville is really good and they’re tough on both ends of the court. We needed to play with a few less mistakes on both ends of the court. You’ve got to make your free throws, you’ve got to be low turnover, and you’ve got to finish around the basket. We didn’t do that enough.

“I’m really proud of our team. They don’t have any quit in them. They’re going to fight. They cut it to 2 and gave ourselves a chance there in the fourth quarter. I love them for that, for their competitiveness and how they have represented the Lady Vols.”

Senior Rae Burrell played her final collegiate game and went out with a bang, scoring 22 points and rebounding six. Guard Jordan Walker scored 10 points for Tennessee and was the only other player to score in double digits.

“[Playing for this team has] meant so much. I get to be a Lady Vol for life, and that means a lot to me,” Burrell shared. “I’ve been here for four years, and it’s been a great ride. I’m just very grateful for my team and the people that have helped me along the way.”

The Cardinals played excellent and were led by the offensive prowess from Hailey Van Lith and Emily Engstler who scored 23 points and 20 points, respectively. Engstler picked up a double-double as well, rebounding 10. Louisville also combined for 11 steals and eight blocks, scoring 21 points off of 18 Tennessee turnovers.

The Lady Vols finished their season with a record of 25-9 and an astounding home record of 16-2. Outside of Burrell, Walker and two other graduate students, Tennessee will be welcoming back a huge chunk of its roster, including leading scorer Jordan Horston who averaged 16.2 ppg and 9.4 rpg.

College Corner: Rick Barnes, Will Richard, MTSU & Vandy WNIT

Tennessee Gives Head Coach Rick Barnes Contract Extension

Rick Barnes. Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

After leading the University of Tennessee to its first SEC Tournament championship in 1979, head coach Rick Barnes has been given a contract extension that will keep him in Knoxville until 2027.

“Rick has built an incredible culture within our men’s basketball program that has spread throughout Vol Nation,” says Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White. “I’ve had a blast watching the best fanbase in the country embrace this team and create the most electric environment in college basketball. Coach Barnes’ leadership is steady, and his players exude high character. They take pride in representing our university and the state of Tennessee with class and an unrivaled competitive drive.”

In program history, Tennessee has six seasons of 26 or more wins with Barnes serving as the Vols’ head coach for three of those six campaigns (2017-18, 2018-19, 2021-22). For the second time in Barnes’ tenure, the Vols spent the entire season ranked in the AP Top 25.

“After meeting with our players this week, I’m energized and eager to get back in the gym preparing for next season,” says Barnes. “Our family is blessed to be a part of the University of Tennessee family, and we appreciate the alignment of our administration. There are so many wonderful things happening on campus and throughout the community that we’re excited to support and participate in. It’s a great time to be a Tennessee Volunteer.”



Belmont’s Will Richard Enters Transfer Portal

Will Richard. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont freshman Will Richard has entered the transfer portal after averaging 15.8 points per game and being the Bruins third best scorer.

Richard announced his decision via social media, thanking Belmont, its coaches and the community. The Georgia native was named to the OVC’s All-Freshman team and scored 22 points against Vanderbilt in the Bruins first round NIT matchup.

According to Jamie Shaw from, Richard has heard from Stanford, Minnesota, Clemson, BYU, Ole Miss, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Creighton, and Loyola-Chicago among others.



MTSU Beats Vanderbilt 55-53 In WNIT Round Three

Courtney Whitson. Photo: Courtesy of MT Athletics

In a heated cross-town matchup, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) knocked out Vanderbilt 55-53 in the third round of the WNIT on Thursday night (March 24) at the Murphy Center.

“I’m obviously disappointed for our group, but incredibly proud of how far we’ve come this year. I’m excited about the foundation that we’ve built for our program here at Vanderbilt,” said Vanderbilt’s first-year head coach Shea Ralph in a postgame press conference. “We understand how special this is and the opportunity to make it even more special is my dream job.”

Vanderbilt’s Jordyn Cambridge scored 14 points and had four steals. Iyana Moore also scored 14 points, and Sacha Washington scored 12 points and picked eight rebounds.

The Commodores started off hot scoring 21 points in the first quarter alone and taking a strong 29-21 lead at halftime. A huge third quarter, where the Lady Blue Raiders scored 22 points, led the team to a 43-41 lead.

“What a heck of a game,” MTSU head coach Rick Insell said in a postgame press conference. “Both teams played hard, both teams executed at times and both teams got sloppy at times. You’ve got to give credit to both teams. They battled and battled and battled and [it was a] heck of a game. I’m proud of our basketball team.”

Dor Saar led in scoring for MTSU with 13 points. Courtney Whitson and Kseniya Malashka both had great games, scoring nine points and 12 points respectively.

The Lady Blue Raiders will now face Toledo in the WNIT quarterfinals on Monday, March 28 at 6 p.m. CT.

Vanderbilt’s Season Comes To An End With Loss To Xavier In NIT

Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt’s NIT run ended on Tuesday night after losing to Xavier 75-73 in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

The Commodores were red hot coming into the game, wining four of their last five games which included Belmont and Dayton. Vandy finishes their most successful season in five years with a record of 19-17.

“For the most part I thought our guys just stayed together and kept battling,” said head coach Jerry Stackhouse in a postgame press conference. “We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. We stayed together, we stayed the course, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

Vandy had a lead for most of the game and held it tight late into the second half. The Commodores saw a nine-point lead disappear late and eventually went down 71-70 on an Adam Kunkel jumper with 2:01 to go. Kunkel, a former Belmont Bruin, then gave the Musketeers a 74-72 lead with a runner with 57 seconds on the clock.

The Musketeers ended the game on a 16-7 run and Vanderbilt went the final 3:10 without making a shot from the floor.

Junior superstar Scotty Pippen Jr. led Vanderbilt in scoring with 28 points and a career-high nine rebounds and seven assists. The All-SEC First Team player scored over 60 points in the past two games and finishes the season averaging 20.4 ppg, 162 assists, and shooting 42% from the field.

“This is our first postseason in a couple of years. The guys feel good about the season,” Pippen shared. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end. We didn’t get to go to New York, but at the end of the day [we had] a 19 win season. Every year that I’ve been here, we’ve improved and improved. The players that’ve been here have grown up together. Although it’s a disappointing end to the season, there’s a lot of good to look back at.”

Pippen’s future at Vanderbilt is up in the air as he’s proven himself as a legitimate NBA prospect. He currently isn’t listed on any major NBA Mock Drafts and may spend his first year in the pros on a G-League team. If Pippen were to return for his senior year, he would definitely be one of the top players in the SEC for the 2022-23 season.

“If you look back at my first year here, we were the worst team in the SEC–an 0-18 team. I think we’ve improved and I think we’ve had a bigger jump than any team in the SEC,” Pippen added. “I’ve had a great career and I don’t know if it’s my last game but this isn’t the way I wanted to go out. But when I look back, there were a lot of good things. I just want to thank all the fans that supported me, coaching staff and everyone that’s been part of my journey here.

“It’s been a great ride but we’ll see,” he summed.