New-look Vandy, same result?

After a roster haul lost due to the NBA and graduation, Vanderbilt seems to be a team looking up at the premiere programs in SEC hoops heading into 2011-12. The one constant, coach Kevin Stallings, has dealt with similar roster turnover successfully in the past – except for one key difference.

The way Kevin Stallings answered his first question on Thursday at SEC Media Day may accurately describe why the Vanderbilt season is such a toss-up at this point.

He was asked of the offseason and how it went.

"(After a long pause)…Okay," he said. "The offseason was productive. It's clear we're not as deep or talented as we've been."

The media noticed beforehand, picking Vandy to finish 10th in the league after winning the league tournament last season behind tourney MVP John Jenkins and all-tourney honoree Lance Goulbourne as well as Festus Ezeli and others. The bulk of the contributing roster has departed and Stallings played to that point.

"We lost our top six guys and our leading returning scorer (Kedren Johnson) averaged about three points per game (last season)," Stallings added.

"But we've done this before."

The veteran coach is excited for the challenge that lies ahead with lower expectations in an expanded conference, but previous teams that lost top talent hadn't lost as much experience at the same time.

"The biggest difference is that nobody will have a similar role to the one they had one year ago," admitted Stallings. "The talent level is different, but my expectation is not."

As the Commodores aim to buck general conception in 2012-13, it will likely begin where it always seemingly has – in the backcourt.

Said Stallings, "Kedren and Kevin (Bright) will have to play very well to have the success we want to have."

No matter how Vanderbilt fares, the coach believes that the SEC is in better shape now than it's ever been. Stallings alluded to not only the competition improving, but the league's standing in the NCAA Tournament. As most coaches at Media Day have echoed, he feels that more teams will get into the field to help the league's reputation despite sporting three of the last seven national title winners.

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