Vandy hoops lineup beginning to take shape

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 11:49pm

Nearing its first and only preseason exhibition basketball game, Vanderbilt’s projected starting lineup is beginning to take shape.

Coach Kevin Stallings said sophomore guard Jermaine Beal is the leading candidate to start at one wing spot. The only unsettled position is at center, where freshman A.J. Ogilvy and senior Alan Metcalfe are fighting for the starting nod.

Senior swingman Shan Foster, senior point guard Alex Gordon and senior forward Ross Neltner are locked in as starters.

The Commodores host Tusculum on Monday before an exhibition game at Memorial Gym before opening regular-season play Nov. 10 against Austin Peay.

Beal, who started two games early last season at point guard, has taken the upper hand this month over sophomore George Drake.

“Jermaine at this point has made a strong case for the other wing spot, not to say it’s decided,” Stallings said. “I certainly wouldn’t go that far. But he has made a more positive statement than anybody else on the team.”

Beal, a native of Dallas and VU’s top recruit a year ago, averaged 3.8 points per game as a freshman.

Ogilvy has displayed impressive offensive moves in the post but is struggling defensively, Stallings said. That might clear the way for more playing time for the more experienced Metcalfe, who began the 2006-07 season as a starter but suffered a broken foot early in November and never returned to form.

“Both Alan and A.J. have played well,” Stallings said. “If the two of them play, when we get to games, as they have thus far in practice, that position will certainly will be a position of strength for our team. I’ve been very pleased with both of them.”

Regardless of who starts at center, Neltner will be freed to return to his more natural power forward position this year after playing in the pivot last season.

Stallings expects an unencumbered Neltner to be more productive.

“Ross becomes a much better player because he’s such a good passer,” Stallings said. “His post-feeding skills and passing skills are really unusual for a kid his size. Plus, he shoots and does a number of other things. Ross is really, really valuable.”

VU WOMEN START: The Vanderbilt women’s basketball team hosts Cumberland University tonight at 7 p.m. for an exhibition game at Memorial Gym.

“We are excited to get in front of our fans for the first time this fall,” VU coach Melanie Balcomb said. “The team has been competing extremely hard for the past few weeks, and everyone is looking forward to facing some new competition.”

Ten of Vanderbilt’s 13 players are freshmen or sophomores.

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