Wednesday, November 29, 2006

No Joy in Memorial...

Vanderbilt’s home last night to Furman marks the official beginning of panicking in Commodore Nation. Vanderbilt’s first loss to a Southern Conference team since 1969, the team played uninspired Basketball as their two premiere players, Foster and Byars, went a combined 5 for 25, including 1 for 8 from behind the three point line. Overall the team shot a paltry 41% from the floor and an absolutely abysmal 11% from behind the arc. To add insult to injury, they did not hit a three-pointer in the second half. Staying true to form however, Stallings’ team was unable (or perhaps unwilling) to adjust, and failed to create scoring opportunities at the free throw line, only attempting 7 in the second half, and 11 for the game. Vanderbilt’s last field goal was a lay-up by Dan Cage with 2:41 minutes to go that cut the lead to 2. From there, Furman went on a 8-1 run, as Vanderbilt missed their last four shots from the floor.

I could go on about the stats of the game: the fact that we were out-rebounded by 35-30; the fact that they scored 27 points off of our 16 turnovers; or the fact Vanderbilt was only able to create 19 points off of 20 turnovers. I won’t. What I will say is that this team has been a massive disappointment early in their 2006-2007 campaign. Shan Foster has been up and down, bookending 23 and 17 point outings with a 2 and 6 spot against the Hoyas and Furman.

As much as I dislike Kevin Stallings as a coach, he cannot be held responsible for the team missing shots. On the season, the Commodores are 23-82 from behind the three point line; in the second half, Vanderbilt has only made 8 out of 46 treys for percentage of 17%. That is not his fault. What he can be blamed for however, is continually not making adjustments to the flow of the game to give his team the best chance to win. What he can be blamed for is the –30 points scoring differential between the Commodores and their opponents in the second half over their first four games. What he can be blamed for, is clearly not getting the most out of his players. Think of Stallings in the context of these comments by Dan Cage about Jeff Jackson, former Stallings/Vanderbilt assistant and current Head Coach at Furman: “They might be a mid-major school, but they have a high-major coach.” Does anyone out there think anyone on this team thinks the same of Stallings? Does anyone out there think the same of Stallings? I sure don’t.

Make no mistake about it, this team is reeling. Don’t believe me? The following comment from Cage after the game seems to indicate that this team’s head is not in the right place: “We're not going to pack it in. None of these games are must-win, though you'd like to look at every game as a must-win because you want to put your best foot forward." Not going to pack it in? I hope not four games into the season! The fact that that would even come out of a players mouth tells me “that deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties,” this team is having a crisis of confidence.* None of these games must-win, Dan? Sorry, but if you want to play in March, you have to win in December, especially against teams like Furman.

Last year’s Cinderella-run by George Mason put everyone in the NCAA on notice that no team, from any conference, mid-major or otherwise, could be over-looked. That trend has continued as teams like Old Dominion and Oral Roberts have posted wins over Georgetown and Kansas respectively. But we all know that it is good for college basketball if Georgetown and Kansas are in the NCAA tournament; we also know that, despite losing those two games, both the Hoyas and the Jayhawks are very good teams that will competing in March. Can we say the same about Vanderbilt? Certainly not, especially after their performances so far. They have yet to play a good game all season, and based on their loss last night to Furman, the schedule doesn’t get any easier with games against an East Tennessee State team that only lost by 6 at Auburn, cross-town rival Lipscomb, or Georgia Tech who come into Memorial with ESPN2 in tow in 11 days.

Call me crazy, but I am panicking.

* All subsequent posts must include a reference from this movie.


Stanimal said...

I'm completely shocked. That's the only way I can put it.

Just like every single one of Stallings' teams, we live and die by the three. If we can't shoot it, we're going to lose. We have little-to-no inside game and we never get second chance points.

Now I'm all for shooting threes (as those of y'all who play ball with me know), but if it isn't going in, then start going for the high-percentage points. Get it down low, make a move and start shooting some 8 to 10 footers. Shooting requires this inexplicable flow, and if it takes a few easy shots to get into that flow, then those are the shots you need to take.

Another problem that seems to be rearing its head, that to be honest has not been a major Vandy problem in the past, is our lack of defense. An 8-1 run with 2:41 left? That's just absurd. When it's that close in the waning moments, that's when your defense is supposed to STEP IT UP. Get out there and hustle and make stuff happen. There's a lack of fire in this team that is very alarming, and much like O'Shea, I'm seriously concerned.

And it's not like we get a high-draft pick either.

Seamus O'Toole said...

RWilliams on Kevin Stallings:

"Should we, or should we not, follow the advice of the galactically STUPID?!" [cue the papers being shoved off the desk]

Stanimal said...

Oh yeah, I forgot the quote.

My take on Skuchas.

"They beat up on a weaker kid. The rest of this is just smoke-filled coffee-house crap. And why? BECAUSE HE COULDN'T RUN VERY FAST."

Chainsaw said...

Is there any way to research Kevin Stallings' possible gambling debts, or, if none exist, whether he is employed by the Prince of Darkness?
I'm talking about Billy Donovan, people. Could it be possible that Billy Donovan has been buying up the souls of rival SEC teams (Pearl, Smith, Gottfriend, Nixon, etc) to ensure another championship for himself (assuming the loss to Kansas was part of his strategy...)
Donovan has a fierce widow's peak, but I'm not sure if that's enough to indict him of wrong-doing here. Stallings, who clearly lacks such a widow's peak, has other problems with his appearance (on the court and off). When all is said and done, there's clearly more than enough cause for his termination. How hard is it to get intelligent people into Vanderbilt who are taller than six feet nine inches? Aren't there statistics about things like this? Could we get Chantelle to come back and fulfill her "other" NCAA eligibility?
I hate Georgia and everything it stands for. Give me that fat guy on ESPN who used to coach at Utah, was then hired by USC, then quit, then made unseemly remarks about Ashley Judd sitting on his lap. That's the guy we need. Whatever the fuck his name is.

Stanimal said...

His name is Rick Majerus.

And Georgia hates you back.