Vanderbilt baseball player’s dad takes timeout for games – The Tennessean
It’s been easy to spot Randy Wiel at Vanderbilt‘s baseball games this season.
Not only is the former Middle Tennessee State men’s basketball coach taller than most people in the crowd, but also on cold days he wears a large, furry Russian hat.
And no one has been happier to see Wiel in the stands than his son Zander, who plays first base for the Commodores.
This is the first season Randy has gotten to see Zander play on a regular basis. He never even got to see him play at Blackman High School.
Randy turned down the opportunity to coach a pro basketball team in China just so that he could attend all of Vanderbilt’s home games and some on the road.
Randy, who coached at MTSU from 1996-2002, thought time was running out for him to watch Zander, a sophomore who made the SEC All-Freshman Team last year.
“I only saw Zander play one time last year, and in high school I never saw him play,” said Randy, who still lives in Murfreesboro. “I saw him play with the travel teams over the summer because that’s when I’m home. But I was always coaching when he played with his school teams.”
Randy, a native of Curacao and a former North Carolina basketball player and assistant coach, started coaching again shortly resigning from MTSU. He resumed his career in The Netherlands in 2006 when Zander was 13, and has continued to coach overseas since then.
Randy spent last spring and summer working at a basketball academy in China. After he returned to Murfreesboro in October, a Chinese pro team contacted him about taking over as its head coach, and Randy came close to accepting the offer.
“I probably would’ve taken it because my main goal was to get back to Europe and coach there, and this would have been a step in that direction,” Randy said. “But I’m very glad I decided to stay because I have really enjoyed finally getting to see (Zander) play.”
The only series Randy was able to attend last season was against South Carolina because he was home when it was played. He watched all the rest on his computer.
Randy’s decision to take the spring off caught Zander by surprise. He was aware that his father had been offered the coaching position in China and assumed he would accept it.
“I knew he’s wanted to see me play for a long time, and I think he knew this was going to be a big year for me because I would be playing on a consistent basis,” Zander said. “I guess that factored into it, but I can’t say that I knew he would pass up that offer.”
When he’s not coaching, Randy teaches at basketball clinics across the globe. The only work he is doing this spring is with individuals in the Midstate.
Zander said it was “cool” growing up with a father who was a coach, but unfortunate that it often prevented Randy from seeing him play.
“I would still talk to him all the time, but it was tough with him not being there,” Zander said. “My mom (Connie) was huge in filling that void. She took me everywhere I needed to go. This year it’s been really special having them both here all of the time.”
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said he admires Randy for taking time off to watch Zander.
“It is special when you can see your kid play,” Corbin said. “I mean, you don’t have many years when they’re nearby and they have the opportunity to play college baseball and you get the opportunity to be at most of their games.”
TSU basketball coachcandidates list grows
The list of candidates is growing for the vacant Tennessee State men’s basketball coaching position.
At this point it includes:
• Former Colorado and Northern Illinois coach Ricardo Patton, who served as an assistant at TSU (1991-93) and MTSU (1988-90) and is currently the coach at Memphis Central.
• Former Whites Creek and Belmont star Brian “Penny” Collins, who was an assistant at TSU (2007-09) at Cumberland (2009-12) and is now the coach at Columbia State Community College.
• Illinois State associate head coach Dana Ford, who was a TSU assistant (2009-11).
• Savannah State coach Horace Broadnax, who played on the 1984 Georgetown Hoyas national championship team.
• James Strong, a former Vanderbilt player (1997-2000), who spent five years on the staff at Furman and is currently a Belmont assistant.
• Drew Maddux, former Vanderbilt player (1995-98) who is now the coach at Christ Presbyterian Academy.
Athletics director Teresa Phillips said she hopes to hire a coach around the time the men’s Final Four is played in early April.
Former Tiger Rhett has lots of options
M.J. Rhett, a 6-foot-9 junior at TSU who has announced he won’t return for his final year of eligibility, has become a hot prospect.
Rhett has offers from Tennessee, Memphis, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Wichita State, Villanova, Miami, Illinois, Minnesota and Texas A&M, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
Rhett averaged 10.3 points and 7.9 rebounds this season. He will graduate from TSU and pursue his master’s degree next year at whichever school he chooses.
Phillips still winning basketball titles
Exactly 28 years after helping Shelbyville High win the girls state championship on March 15, 1986, Jill Phillips, now the coach at Cincinnati Princeton High School, led her team to the Ohio Division I girls state championship.
Phillips guided Princeton to a 61-55 win over North Canton Hoover at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. The Vikings finished with a 28-2 record.
Ohio’s Ms. Basketball Chelsea Mitchell, who is headed to Ohio State, scored 30 points for Princeton.
After graduating from Shelbyville, Phillips went to play at Georgia.
Ex-Vandy player has Westminster rolling
Former Vanderbilt basketball player Shelley Jarrard (1989-93) is in her third season as the head coach at Westminster College and led the Griffins to a 22-2 regular-season record and the Frontier Conference Tournament championship.
The Griffins received a No. 1 seed in the NAIA Tournament but lost to Wiley (Texas) 75-58 in the quarterfinals Saturday.
Jarrard helped Vanderbilt reach the Final Four in 1993. She scored 1,003 career points.
Ex-Cumberland coach still goes to NCAAs
Former Cumberland basketball coach and athletics director Cliff Ellis is now the coach at Coastal Carolina, which gave No. 1 seed Virginia a scare Friday in the NCAA Tournament.
The Chanticleers threatened to become the first 16 seed to beat a No. 1. They had the score tied (47-47) with 8:35 remaining. Virginia rallied to win 70-59.
Ellis, 68, was at Cumberland when it was a junior college (1972-75).
He has coached four teams to the NCAA Tournament in five decades.
Locker and Lawler team up for “Fight”
An impressive lineup is set to speak at The Fight Men’s Event on April 12 at Madison Church of Christ.
It includes Titans quarterback Jake Locker and former quarterback Rusty Smith along with pro wrestling great Jerry “The King” Lawler, former pro wrestler and Goodpasture golf coach Conn Hamlett and New York Times best-selling author Jon Acuff.
The speakers will talk about the importance they place on “fighting” for their faith and families.
For tickets ($25) or more information visit madison churchtn.org/thefight/.
Venom slither into season with a party
The Nashville Venom Professional Indoor Football League expansion franchise will have a preseason party at 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on Broadway.
It’s free and open to the public. The season kicks off Saturday with a game in Huntsville against the Alabama Hammers.
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served, and the team’s players, coaches, cheerleaders and owners will be at the party.
Central High alumni set golf tournament
The Central High Alumni Association will have its annual fundraiser golf tournament May 2 at Windtree Course in Mt. Juliet.
The tournament raises money to pay for college scholarships for Central High descendents. Even though Central High closed in 1971, its alumni association remains very active.
The tournament is open to the public at $90 for golfers who register before April 15 and $100 after. To sign up, contact Kathy Smith at 615-834-7476.
NBCA will honor administrators
The Nashville Black Coaches Association’s annual banquet is scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 24 at Martin Luther King High School.
The group will name its football and boys and girls basketball coaches of the year. It also will honor longtime administrators David Jones Jr., Aldorothy Wright, John Younger, Richard Anderson, Samella Junior-Spence and Julie Waters.
The public is invited. Tickets are $10 and available by contacting Josh Cooperwood at 615-476-8756 or jcooperw @tnstate.edu or Doc Shelton at 615-329-8400 ext. 1500 or 615-855-6617.
If you have an item for Midstate Chatter, contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 and on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
SPORTS ON NASHVILLE TV The top five ratings for local sporting events on television for March 10-16: 1. SEC final: Florida-Kentucky 7.2 rating 2. SEC semifinals: Florida-Tennessee 6.6 rating 3. (tie) Men’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show 5.7 rating 3. NASCAR: Bristol 500 5.7 rating 5. SEC semifinals: Georgia-Kentucky 5.1 rating Each rating point is equal to 10,434 Nashville homes. Source: Mark Binda, WTVF-5 program and research director
SPORTS ON NASHVILLE TV
The top five ratings for local sporting events on television for March 10-16:
1. SEC final: Florida-Kentucky 7.2 rating
2. SEC semifinals: Florida-Tennessee 6.6 rating
3. (tie) Men’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show 5.7 rating
3. NASCAR: Bristol 500 5.7 rating
5. SEC semifinals: Georgia-Kentucky 5.1 rating
Each rating point is equal to 10,434 Nashville homes.
Source: Mark Binda, WTVF-5 program and research director