Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jan. 6 Player of the Week: Shan Foster

Note: This column originally appeared at

As 2007 left and 2008 arrived, out went non-conference games and in came league play – the meat and potatoes of the college basketball season. The week was packed with big-time match-ups from nearly every conference, and several teams had statement-making wins in an attempt to send a message to the rest of the country regarding their legitimacy. As a result, there were many standout performances, including North Carolina's Wayne Ellington, Penn State’s Jamelle Cornley, Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku, nearly anyone from Xavier and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody, among others. However, the player who made the biggest impact throughout the week was Shan Foster of surprisingly unbeaten Vanderbilt.

Coming into the season, Vanderbilt was not expected to seriously contend for an NCAA Tournament berth, let alone the SEC title. However, despite the loss of SEC Player of the Year Derrick Byars, the Commodores have started the season 15-0 and look like a team to be reckoned with in the SEC. One of the biggest reasons is Foster, who has emerged as a go-to-guy and team leader. This week, in wins over Iona, Rice and Massachusetts, Foster averaged over 25 points, almost five rebounds and almost three assists per game, including a 32-point, eight-rebound, three-assist performance in the comeback victory over the Minutemen, in which he also hit eight three-pointers. Overall, the senior forward shot 56 percent from the floor and 53 percent from behind the arc in his attempt to help keep Vandy undefeated.

The schedule is going to get tougher the rest of the way as Vanderbilt faces nothing but SEC teams for the next two months. However, the 6-6 Foster has shown the ability to put the Commodores on his back and carry them to victory. This week, they face South Carolina at home and Kentucky on the road – if they win both of those games, the Commodores will be 17-0 heading into a Jan. 17 date at Tennessee. That is when we will truly see if Foster and the rest of his teammates are for real. On the season, Foster is averaging 21.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game and is also shooting 54 percent from the field and 53 percent from three-point range.

Jeff Borzello, founder, editor and lone writer of March Madness All Season, also writes weekly columns for

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