Like his team, Vanderbilt's 'Skooch' seizes the moment

Posted: March 23, 2007

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As he typically does, Ted Skuchas said it thoughtfully and modestly as he sat by his locker yesterday at Continental Airlines Arena.

The 6-foot-11 Vanderbilt center, who helped form a powerhouse at Germantown Academy when he played alongside Matt Walsh and Lee Melchionni under coach Jim Fenerty, said he'd played well in the Commodores' thrilling double-overtime win against No. 3 seed Washington State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

You probably had to see the game to believe him because what the guy they call "Skooch" does for surprising Vandy usually doesn't show up on the stat sheet, which revealed he scored four points and had seven rebounds playing 28 minutes off the bench.

"It's one of those things where you know that you have three great scorers so you try to work through them and create opportunities for yourself," Skuchas said when asked to define his role on a team that's built its success around deadly long-range shooting and sturdy defense. The No. 6 seed, underdog Vanderbilt (22-11) hopes to continue its unlikely run tonight against No. 2 seed Georgetown (28-6) in an East Regional semifinal.

"I know I can box out and rebound and play defense," Skuchas continued. "I know I'm not the first, second, third or probably even fourth [scoring] option, but I know that when I get the opportunity to score I'll try to make a move."

Skuchas also knows he's pretty well prepared for the real world if his hope to catch on with a pro team either here or in Europe doesn't pan out. The fifth-year senior has a degree in computer engineering and is working toward a master's in economics.

Skuchas' academic prowess may not mean much to Georgetown's Roy Hibbert, the 7-2, 278-pound center who scored 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in an 86-70 win that ruined Vandy's season opener. But it's a reason Skuchas kindly declined the interest Villanova's Jay Wright and St. Joseph's Phil Martelli showed in him when he was being recruited out of GA and chose a university frequently referred to as "The Harvard of the South." Indeed, he really is a student-athlete.

Skuchas said he grew up watching the Big Five and roots for the Philly teams, and he called Wright and Martelli "great guys."

"But I knew I had to kind of branch out and find a place that really fit me, and I think I found that in Vanderbilt," he said. "I'm happy with my decision, but I'm always rooting for those schools."

Skuchas doesn't mind doing his work in relative anonymity. On a guard-oriented team that averages more than nine three-point baskets a game, someone has to do the gritty chores like throw his weight around in the post, block shots, and try to muscle talented opposing centers enough to keep them from controlling the game. In that respect, the broad-shouldered, 250-pound Skuchas gives the Commodores an inside presence. He helped hold Kentucky's Randolph Morris to 11 points, five below his average, and LSU's Glen Davis to 12 points, six below his average. He leads Vandy in blocked shots (28) and rebounds (5.7 a game).

As fate would have it, Skuchas tonight will be playing closer to his home in Audubon, Montgomery County, than at any time in his college career.

"I don't want to stop playing," he said. "This is my last time in college basketball so I want to keep getting as many games as I can."

By the way, those four points Skuchas scored against Washington State came at the start of the second overtime, enabling Vandy to take control.


Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

 

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|