Lea talks big win, Stackhouse discusses Europe trip – The Vanderbilt Hustler

Clark Lea and Jerry Stackhouse both met with the media on Tuesday to discuss their teams as football prepares for Elon and basketball begins pre-season training soon.

Both Clark Lea and Jerry Stackhouse met with members of the media on Tuesday afternoon to talk about their teams’ recent trips to Hawaii and Europe, respectively.

During his usual Tuesday press conference, Lea previewed the upcoming matchup against Elon and looked back at the team’s big win over Hawaii. Stackhouse spoke about his team’s European tour and developments he has seen from his squad over the summer.

Football: Clark Lea on building momentum from Hawaii, injury updates

Lea spoke to the media for the first time since returning from Hawaii following his team’s 63-10 domination over the Rainbow Warriors. Lea spoke about re-adjusting back to Nashville and expectations ahead of this week’s matchup against Elon.

“[Elon] is a different challenge,” Lea said. “We’re going to play a good team this weekend. We know what that’s like, as a program we’ve experienced this. They’re going to have a chip on their shoulder, they’re going to be connected—they have a lot of experience coming back.”

The second-year head coach mentioned the need for his program to not let last week’s success muddle their focus heading into the matchup with Elon. It is the first time since 2018 that Vanderbilt has started the season 1-0.

“Our focus needs to be on playing at our highest level as a team,” Lea said. “We love that we had a good result, but that for us is not our focus—our focus is to push the program to new heights and play at our highest level as a team and that requires consistency. Winning is hard, winning consistently is even harder.”

Lea took some time to admire the effort his team put in against Hawaii last weekend. The head coach mentioned the challenge in keeping the bigger picture in mind when it comes to the trajectory of his program.

“Any time you win, you want to take the time to celebrate appropriately” Lea remarked. “Maturity and progress is in handling the success. We spent a lot of time guarding against this in our language internally. We weren’t defined by our performance, but it is a glimpse of where we’ve come. Saturday’s result is meaningless if we don’t build on it.”

In terms of injury updates, a number of Commodores starters were not on the depth chart ahead of the team’s Elon matchup. Patrick Smith, Julian Hernandez, Jake Ketsheck and Trudell Berry were among the notable absences from the team’s top ranks and will not be available for Saturday’s game.

“We’re looking forward to them getting back when they are ready,” Lea said. “They are all week-to-week”.

Lea added that starting wide receiver Quincy Skinner Jr., who appeared to limp off late in the second half against Hawaii, is fully cleared to play this Saturday. Lea credited the program’s training staff on helping to alleviate injuries and navigate the hot temperatures in Honolulu.

“Feel the need to give some acknowledgment to our strength training staff, our nutrition staff and our training staff,” Lea said. “To manage that trip—it was a hot day in the sun [on Saturday]—I was really proud of the way the program handled that. Credit goes to our staff for doing a great job supporting the team.”

Men’s Basketball: Stackhouse talks older squad, benefit of Europe games

Stackhouse addressed the media for the first time since the season ending loss to Xavier in the NIT tournament. Stackhouse discussed the team’s and individual performances during their trip to Europe as well as the benefits of finally having an older roster, relative to the previous seasons under Stackhouse’s tenure.

“We’re excited about what they [veterans] have done this summer to help our younger group. You can just see it, it’s a sign of a really good team when you start to see your older players pulling guys to the side and letting them know when they made mistakes or see things they need to correct,” Stackhouse said.

Stackhouse also spoke about the strong leadership demonstrated by Jordan Wright, Quentin Millora-Brown and Ezra Manjon during their overseas play.

“It’s his [Wright] time, it’s his team. Even though they were really close, he still deferred to Scotty a little bit from the standpoint of owning the team [last season]. There is no question about it right now that him, Quentin Millora-Brown and just from his sheer leadership qualities, Ezra, will step to the forefront of being our main leaders.” Stackhouse said. “Those guys are the guys we will depend on especially on the defensive end because they know exactly what they are supposed to do and it is just a matter of them executing.”

The impact and presence of the veterans reduces the need for reliance on freshmen for key rotational minutes. While Stackhouse was generally impressed by the freshmen’s general performance, especially noting the walk-on Miles Keeffe, he emphasized that the newcomers will not have their minutes handed to them.

“They all had their moments, good and bad,” Stackhouse said. “Those guys know it is not like how it was three years ago when we had to count on a lot of freshmen to come in and be a huge part of what we were doing right away. These guys really have to earn it because we are an older group now. That is a sign of us becoming a better team, those guys [freshmen] are pushing them [rest of the team] everyday.”

Vanderbilt’s biggest surprise of the off-season came from last-minute transfer Emmanuel Ansong, which was announced only one day before the team’s trip to Europe. Ansong spent his previous two seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

“Hey” [Ansong] was probably our second leading scorer in a couple of games in Europe. He just has a knack for scoring whether it’s getting out in transition or getting to the offensive boards, which is a huge part of who we want to be. He is the guy, him and Miles Keeffe, who really stood out this summer as guys who will execute the game plan and do their assignment.”

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