Welcome to the SEC Basketball Media Days Blog, your online home for the big news, behind-the-scenes notes and quotes and special moments that make this annual event, held this year in Birmingham, Ala., the unofficial start of college basketball season. Check back for updates each day throughout the week.
Patience is not Shea Ralph's strong suit. She admits it. After a long run as a player and assistant coach at perennial power UConn, where the standard is "national championship or bust," her first year as the Vanderbilt head coach was a learning experience.
"I learned a lot about myself," she said. "Last year was humbling in that it taught me patience."
Vandy experienced a different kind of success in Ralph's quest to live up to the program's "tradition of excellence ... to get it back there and beyond." The Commodores earned their first SEC Tournament win since 2016, reached the postseason for the first time since 2014 and made their longest postseason run since 2013 by advancing to the WNIT's third round.
"Last year showed what we're capable of," Ralph said. "We have laid that foundation of trust and belief."
There's another pillar for the team's lone returning starter, two-time SEC freshman of the week Sacha Washington. Confidence.
"It's all about confidence," Washington said. "It's knowing I have the potential to do great things."
Washington said she always had a goal to one day be a professional basketball player, but Ralph said she communicated that desire to her for the first time during an off-season conversation.
"She has a different mentality," Ralph said. "Time will tell. Every day she's practicing like she wants to be great."