Thursday, December 7, 2006

Lipscomb Preview

Coming off an impressive win Tuesday against East Tennessee State, Vanderbilt looks to get above the .500 mark tonight against cross-town rival Lipscomb University. Lipscomb, also in the Atlantic Sun, is a decidedly better team then ETSU, and this is a game that Coach Scott Sanderson’s team will be ready for. Lipscomb is 6-2 and riding a four game winning streak into Memorial. With an RPI considerably higher than Vanderbilt’s (134 compared to 254), this is not a team to be taken lightly, despite Tuesday’s lopsided result.

According to Atlantic Sun Conference expert, Uncle O’Shea, Lipscomb is extremely athletic. Primarily a perimeter team, Lipscomb has several players who can knock down the three-ball, including two returning first-team all A-Sun players, Senior Brian Fisk and Junior Eddie Ard. Senior Trey Williams rounds out this explosive back court and is a “streaky shooter who has legitimate twenty foot range.” Williams enters tonight’s game shooting a whooping 49.3% from downtime, and is not someone you want to get into a rhythm. Fisk is an inside/outside 6-2 guard who also has excellent three point ability and is also a very good rebounding guard, something Vanderbilt has had a difficult time defending all season long. Finally, “Ard is more of a slasher who struggles from the field at times but get to the free throw line and makes them count.” Uncle O’Shea goes on to say that Lipscomb likes to play man-to-man defense, but will slip into a “a very aggressive 2-3 zone if the opponent is struggling to score.” It will be critical for Vanderbilt to knock down shots early and expose Lipscomb’s defense, just as they did ETSU’s 1-3-1 zone on Tuesday. Conversely, Vanderbilt has got to play solid defense, particularly on the perimeter, as this is a team that “loves to shoot and will get frustrated when taken out of their comfort zone.” Lipscomb runs on the play of Ard, Fisk, and Williams; taking one or more of these players out of their game will be critical if the Commies are going to win.

Lipscomb’s only two losses came on the road at Missouri and South Carolina. Tonight’s game is an opportunity to show that Vanderbilt is capable of beating more then just bad teams as they go into Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech. Finally, playing Vanderbilt is one of the biggest games of the year for Lipscomb—this is a game they will be up and ready for. Coming off of five days rest, Lipscomb has the fresher legs and more time to prepare for tonight’s match-up. Vanderbilt needs to get off to a good start and have their playmakers make players. If Foster and Byars continue to shoot the ball well, Neltner continues to be the inside/out and rebounding threat he has emerged as, and freshman duo Brown and “Dolla” Beal continue to provide sparks and quality minutes off the bench, there is no reason the Commies shouldn’t walk out of Memorial 4-3. Defensively, Stallings’ team must have as big an effort as they did on Tuesday. Finally, and I know this is not Vanderbilt’s strength, they must get to the free throw line. Lipscomb is 5-0 when they shoot more free throws then their opponent; on the flip-side, they are 1-2 when they don’t. That tells me that the most physical team on the floor wins. If the Commies look for contact, create, and make something happen, they win—if they don’t, they don’t. This is a big stretch for the Commies, but a win tonight will be another step in the right direction for this team.

1 comment:

J.B., M.D. said...

Cross-town rival?!? these teams haven't played each other since 1955! Come on O'Shay, lock it up.

I'll go with Vandy by at least 12 points here. They are starting to show signs of the big 'C' word... chemistry. Byers alluded to this after the Toledo game, saying Vandy "showed the makings of a good team with good chemistry and trust."

Hereafter I will refer to our wonderful Men's Basketball program as the Vanderbilt C&T, for Chemistry and Trust.

Also, it's good to see Shan Foster step up his play, hopefully shedding early season jitters. Stallings had a great comment about him after the ETSU game:

"That was the Shan Foster we all know and love. I had an inkling in warmups that he was in for a great shooting game tonight. I thought he played excellent defense as well. I thought Shan was outstanding tonight."