Melanie Balcomb is not finished with the starting lineup she used Thursday night in Vanderbilt’s exhibition opener.
The fact that true freshmen Christina Foggie and Jasmine Lister were on the floor for the opening tip of the Commodores’ 73-52 victory over Delta State at Memorial Gymnasium had nothing to do with the level of competition or the fact that nothing was at stake in terms of standings.
“I started two freshmen,” Belcomb said. “If they weren’t ready, I wouldn’t have started them.
“They’ve been able to pick things up really quickly. I only have to tell them one time and they get it. There’s a lot to learn and they’re not overwhelmed.”
Foggie, a 5-foot-9 guard out of New Jersey, ultimately played 31 minutes and finished with team-highs in points (14) and steals (four). She made just two field goals, but both were 3-pointers (the rest of the team made just one) but also consistently got to the foul line, where she made eight of 10.
“I actually found out [about starting] earlier (Thursday),” she said. “I thought it was great. It was a good opportunity for my first college game, so it was exciting. It was definitely a good experience and something I can learn from for the future.”
Senior guard Jence Rhoads added 13 points and four assists, and senior forward Hannah Tuomi contributed 12 points for Vanderbilt, which used 12 different players for a minimum of five minutes each. Eleven of the 12 scored, but 11 of the 12 also committed at least one turnover.
The Commodores took the lead for good when a Rhoads free throw made it 7-6 fewer than four minutes into the game, but they scored just 27 points in the first half. They finally pulled away from their Division II opponent with a 17-8 second-half run capped by a Foggie 3-pointer.
“The first game I promised everybody would play – just trying to get everybody’s feet wet,” Balcomb said. “We have some people that have been hurt and haven’t played in a long time; we have other people that have waited to put a college uniform on since they were in the sixth grade.
“… It looked like we were just out there by ourselves. We didn’t get five kids playing well together, and that’s going to happen when you’re just looking at different lineups, playing different people and playing everybody.”
That doesn’t mean it’s the last the world has seen of the starting lineup.