To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Dayton guard Vee Sanford about playing basketball in bluegrass country.
You are the top returning scorer on your team and the only player on the roster who started all 31 games last year. How much pressure do you feel to be a leader this year? There is not really any pressure because we have a bunch of guys who want to win and are on the same page. I am just excited to get my senior year started.
You will be playing Gonzaga in the opening round of the Maui Invitational in November. How do you hope to match up with a #1-seed from last year’s tourney? God willing we will beat them! They put their shorts on just like we do, so we hope to surprise a lot of people.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? I just want to have a winning season. I spent basically three years sitting out, so I think this will be a big year both for me and the team. We expect to battle, and one of our goals is to go 17-0 at home.
You went to high school in Lexington, Kentucky. How does the basketball culture there compare to anywhere else you have seen? It is one of a kind: basketball there is like a religion. The fans at Kentucky are probably the best fans in college basketball. It was great to play there for high school because there are not different classes: there is only one title for the whole state.
In 2011 you made the NCAA tourney as a player at Georgetown. What are your memories of the Hoyas’ loss to VCU? It was great to make the tourney. We had a bunch of great players like Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark, but VCU made a great run to the Final 4 that year.
After the tourney you transferred to Dayton. Why did you decide to transfer, and what made you choose the Flyers? I felt like it was the right move for me. I learned a lot under Coach John Thompson III, and might have played more if I had stayed, but it was just not for me. Now my family gets to watch me play more because I am closer to home (Dayton is only two hours away), so it is a great fit.
You played mostly SG last year but had to play some PG after Khari Price missed several games due to injury: which position are you most comfortable at? I am a guard who is comfortable at either spot, so it does not matter where I play. The hardest thing for me was to be in condition to run the point. Last year was the first year I played at the two, as I played at the one in high school.
You shot 82.1% from the FT line last season: what is your secret for being a great FT shooter? Just practicing and putting the mental picture in my head that I am shooting in my backyard.
Coach Archie Miller has two winning seasons in his two years as Dayton coach. What makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him? He pushes me every day: if he sees any relaxation or settling on my part he will tell me. He has a deep passion for the game and grew up around it, so I have grown to have that burning passion in myself even more. Every day you have to bring it.
Your father Vince played basketball at South Florida and your cousin Jaron played basketball at Pitt, do you credit at least some of your success to genetics? Of course! People say my dad was a great athlete, and he pushed me a lot when I was growing up.