I turn 22 today and to celebrate I will be doing a number of things. One, I will be taking part in a 25 mile bike ride/fundraiser. I'm not sure what person celebrates their birthday by doing that unless their name is Lance Armstrong and they are heavily injected with PED's but I will be doing that at 10 AM this morning, and all jokes aside it should be pretty fun, assuming I'm still alive at the end of it. I will also be listening to Taylor Swift's "22" and singing along as I see fit, while going to a birthday dinner tonight with my family.
But for you loyal Managing Memorial readers, I have a special gift for you all: 22 little known/obscure/random facts about the program or people within the program. I hope you all enjoy:
1. Before our NCAA Tournament game versus Harvard last year, Festus Ezeli put on the wrong uniform at the hotel. Instead of wearing our home whites since we were the higher seed (the 5 versus the 12), Fes put on his away jersey for a reason still unbeknownst to us all. Then head manager Will Hulings noticed the issue about an hour before tip and asked Fes if he had his white uniform with him. Fes replied he did not. So, I was assigned a police escort and rode shotgun in an Albuquerque police car to get his jersey from the hotel which was 15 minutes away. I got there about 20 minutes before tip off with the jersey in hand.
2. If Coach Stallings curses on the road and an opposing fan tells him to watch his mouth because little kids are around, Coach Stallings will always turn around and apologize to that fan and do his best not to curse again.
3. Vanderbilt does not have a basketball equipment manager. The football and baseball teams each have equipment managers, but neither basketball program does so the managers also manage the equipment.
4. When we bus to a road game, we do not ride a coach bus. We ride two sleeper buses. The sleeper buses have a lounge in the front, 12 cots/bunks in the middle, and a lounge in the back. All of the players ride on one bus and the coaches and managers ride on another. The support staff drives a big van to meet us at the game.
5. On home gamedays, we always do shootaround 5 hours before tip-off, then eat our team meal 4 hours before tip off, and the guys then return to the gym around 2 hours before the game. After the game the players and managers each gets $15 of per diem money to be used for a post-game meal.
6. On team flights Coach Stallings always sits in the first row on the left side of the aisle (viewed from the front of the plane). All players get their own seats unless they need to sit with managers because of boosters or other support staff on the trip, and the players that get their own seats are determined by seniority.
7. Head manager Rob Cross will frequently fall asleep in the gym late at night because he works himself to exhaustion. It is not uncommon for him to wake up at 4:00 AM having passed out on a couch in the basketball offices for five hours.
8. Coach Frederick's brother, Brian Frederick, is the executive director of the Sports Fan Coalition, a lobbying group that was created to protect the interests of sports fans on such issues as taxpayer funded stadiums and television blackouts.
9. In the HBO documentary "Prayer for a Perfect Season" about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's senior year team at St. Patrick's High School, their game versus Milton Academy, Dai-Jon Parker's high school is featured and Dai-Jon has a cameo in game action. Sheldon Jeter was also in an HBO documentary, "Namath", about Joe Namath who hails from the same hometown as Sheldon: Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
10. Andre Walker watched "Jersey Shore" religiously and would always ask me why I didn't watch it or act like the characters from the show since I was from New Jersey.
11. Our former strength coach, Curtis Turner, now at Georgia Tech was an avid collector of folk art. He had a big art collection at his apartment and was constantly scouring art auction websites for items to bid on.
12. Before last year when he got drafted, John Jenkins would always hate watching the draft. He hated seeing guys from his high school class like John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Xavier Henry, and Alec Burks get drafted and hear their name called before his was, but he used that as motivation before finally achieving his dream last year.
13. Dai-Jon Parker and Kedren Johnson have matching "Young Mafia" tattoos next to their right shoulders. The tattoos like sort of like New York Yankee logos.
14. Kyle Fuller's nickname "Zoomey" came during his freshman year in the locker room. Kyle was asking what a good nickname would be, and then manager Chris Clark and I had just watched one of those Mazda's commercials that end in Zoom, Zoom, Zoom and Chris suggested Kyle call himself Zoomey because he was fast like those cars. Kyle took to the nickname he long wanted and had everyone call him it for a long period of time, and that is how Kyle "Zoomey" Fuller was born.
15. Steve Tchiengang was high school teammates in Houston for a year with former UConn star and current Oklahoma City Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet. That was one big front-court.
16. When Festus was not putting his hands up on defense during his junior year, then assistant coach Dan Muller made the managers wrap two bricks in towels and wrote on each one "Keep your hands up Fes!" Fes had to do some drills where he ran around holding the bricks over his head.
17. Before practice each day, coach hands out a practice plan with an offensive emphasis of the day, defensive emphasis of the day, and thought for the day. After the 15 minutes of warmup time pre-practice the team gathers in a circle and a different player is quizzed on each of the three topics. If a given player forgets one, then the team may be subject to run. After going over those things, the team circles up and high fives each other before practice commences.
18. The reason we found Carter Josephs and recruited him to be a walk-on actually happened when we were recruiting one of his AAU teammates, Connor Lammert. Connor was a three-star power forward from Texas and when Coach Cason was watching him on the AAU circuit he saw Carter and we recruited him to be a walk-on. He chose Vanderbilt over MIT.
19. Brad Tinsley was an outstanding high school quarterback in Oregon who was garnering Pac-12 offers as a sophomore but he gave up football after his sophomore year to focus on basketball. Brad also initially committed to Pepperdine, but their head coach was let go and Brad was released from his letter of intent and chose to come here.
20. The first time Jermaine Beal ever texted me, toward the end of my freshman year and his senior year, he texted me saying "This is Dolla Beal, I want to shoot tonight, can you rebound?" The reference to himself as Dolla Beal was classic.
21. Former walk-on Andris Kehris' brother is the quarterback for the Latvian National Club Football team. It is not a full-time league and the chief rivals of the Latvians are the "Estonians to the north".
22. Former walk-on Joe Duffy was high school teammates with New York Giants' wide-receiver Hakeem Nicks.