Tonight's SEC on CSS match up, like the rest of the season for the teams involved, who is not playing is more of a story than who is. This is not to take away from either Vanderbilt or Florida players that suit up, but neither has fielded the team they expected to. The Gators have dressed nine several games, and Vandy has lost three of five projected starters.
The latest casualty for the Commodores happens to be their leading scorer. Christina Foggie has missed the last two games after a knee injury sidelined junior guard in the loss to Kentucky. Her 15.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 3.0 apg were sorely missed in the 19 point loss to 10th ranked Tennessee. Senior Gabby Smith has stepped in for Foggie, but her 1.9 points and 1.2 rebounds per game have not made up for lost production. Losing the second leading scorer Tiffany Clarke due to illness at halftime did not help matters. Vandy is expected to field Clarke, Smith, Jasmine Lister, Elan Brown, and Heather Bowe versus Florida. Lister did her best to shoulder the load in the loss to Tennessee with 24 points as opposed to her season average 11.9.
Florida has also been without one of their leading scorers as well. Jennifer George and Jaterra Bonds share the lead with 12.2 points per game average. George has battled a shoulder injury that most recently forced her to miss the second half of the Gators contest versus Tennessee. (Losing key players while facing the perennial power from Knoxville- another commonality the teams would rather not share) A plus for Florida is that Vanderbilt is unranked. The Gators have not beaten a ranked team since March of 2012, including two losses to Texas A&M and Georgia. Both games in the past week were SEC on CSS games, which is shear coincidence.
Coaches Melanie Balcomb and Amanda Butler both have teams that have fought their seasons of adversity with the majority of each teams contests being decided by less than 10 points. While we cannot promise who will survive to the end of this week's game, we can tell you that no matter how many are left standing, they will all be fighting until the final buzzer.
Tune in tonight at 7:00 PM ET as Bernie Guenther and Maria Taylor bring you the call from Florida's O'Connell Center.