Monday, December 18, 2006

San Juan Shootout Preview


Vanderbilt opens the San Juan Shootout tomorrow morning against host Puerto-Rico Mayaguez. The Commies, winners of their last five and undefeated in December, will more likely than not be looking past PR-Mayaguez, who apparently are so bad, that major sports outlets refuse to post their record. These guys suck. Vanderbilt’s second round opponent will either be Northwestern or Tennessee Tech. Northwestern comes to San Juan winners of five straight, with a 6-2 record overall; Tech, on the other hand, is 4-4, and has not played since December 9th. A match-up of academic powerhouses is likely in the second round.

Rounding out the San Juan field are Utah and Central Florida, who play at 3pm tomorrow, and Virginia and Appalachian State University, who play tomorrow at 5. This half of the draw is considerably better than Vanderbilt’s, which is good news for the Commies. If Vanderbilt is to advance to the finals in Puerto Rico, they will have to keep up the defensive intensity that has been the hallmark of their recent winning streak. In their last five wins, Vanderbilt has held opponents to just under 41% from the floor, just over 30% from downtown, and a total of 61.8 points overall. While these numbers are exceptional, they are a vast improvement from the 78 points and 48% from the field they surrendered in their first four.

Vanderbilt’s recent winning streak has caught the attention of at least one member of the national media, as the Commies received their first Top-25 vote of the season. Winning in San Juan will certainly catapult Vanderbilt further up the “others receiving votes” list, and set the Commies up to crack the Top-25 going into SEC play. What still bothers me about Vanderbilt is their inability to rebound. Currently, Vanderbilt is dead last in rebounding, rebounding margin, opponents FG percentage, and scoring defense. While the Commies' D has improved significantly, their rebounding has not. Vanderbilt’s success in Puerto Rico and throughout the rest of the year will depend on their ability to control the boards.

With this in mind, I would like wish Charles Oakley a happy 43rd Birthday. Coach Stallings would be well suited to show his team game film of Oak if they wanted to learn a little bit about rebounding and doing the little things it takes to win.

For those of you at work, you can follow tomorrow’s action and the rest of the tournament at www.vucommoders.cstv.com . I will be blogging throughout the day with a recap of the early action and a preview of Vanderbilt’s next opponent.

7 comments:

Shamas O'Toole said...

I think we need to acknowledge that any and all talk of Vandy in the Top-25 is completely unwarranted, or at the very least utterly premature. We are not a Top-25 basketball team. I did not see the vote we received for the Top-25, but to see that as anything more than a tip of the hat for beating Georgia Tech, who was (wrongly) ranked in one poll at the time, is wishful thinking.

We start four guards and a forward, yet don't run a Princeton offense. We get outrebounded, turn the ball over, and are wildly inconsistent shooting the ball. We got beat up on by Lipscomb, and inexcusably lost to what is proving game after game since to be an awful Furman team.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't given up on this season. Winning the San Juan tournament would be big for Vandy because it would mean we beat UVA. But let's not kid ourselves - this is a BAD tournament, full of BAD teams. Put the laugh factor of UPR-M aside for a second: Northwestern is terrible, Tenn Tech is terrible (that game's a toss-up), Utah is terrible and will lose to Central Florida (who lost to the one halfway decent team they played--by which I mean 5-7 Minnesota), and Appie State ain't very good and has lost to the 3 ACC teams they've played (and will not break tradition against UVA).

The Commies have a long, long way to go. It will be a serious push to go .500 in conference play with the current dearth of inside scoring and rebounding.

But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's kick back and enjoy some big-time college bball: Vanderbilt vs. Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. Go Dores.

Shamas O'Toole said...

Oh, good. The Puerto Rican starting lineup is 5'9", 5'9", 6'4", 6'4", and 6'5". Hopefully we'll stay true to form and stand around the 3-point line and chuck up a bunch of 3s.

Stanimal said...

I couldn't agree more that we are not a top-25 caliber team right now. Vandy is going to have to perform impressively in the SEC for me to believe they're for real.

I think Shamas is right on point in identifying the over-estimation of Georgia Tech. It was a huge win for the Dores because we needed to show that we could run with a big-time program after dropping one to the Ferocious Paladins of Furman University. But, the Jackets were young and very raw. Too many turnovers, bad decisions, etc. on their part.

We certainly could learn a thing or two about rebounding. We might not have a big man down low to engulf everything off the boards, but if we go back to lesson one in basic basketball fundamentals we could try to box some people out. They might be taller but we'll probably draw at least a couple over the back fouls and probably would get a lot more boards. UPR-M would be a good test as I doubt that their 6'5" bruiser would be difficult to practice this skill on.

Then again, he might outrebound Vandy's entire team.

Bobby O'Shea said...

52-30 at the half...There are no stats on ESPN.Com or VUCommodores.com. Shamas, can you give us a recap?

Shamas O'Toole said...

Final Score: 102-59, Vandy wins...hurray.

This was a high school basketball game. Maybe middle school. The Dores were never threatened by the Tarzans (nice mascot), who were evidently hilarious to watch because of how undersized they are.

To give you an idea of how bush-league this game was, there were only two media timeout breaks, and Joe Fisher had to cut out for very brief segments, often while play was ongoing.

Vanderbilt didn't even have a scouting report on the Tarzans. No one had even seen a roster for UPR-M, including the radio team, until they walked into the gym 30 minutes before tip-off. The arena was so bad that Stallings and the team could hear Joe Fisher's broadcast during the game...

Player of the Game was Dan Cage with 18 points. Apparently Stallings has given him the green light to shoot, and would prefer that he take jump shots rather than drive to the basket. The wisdom of such a blanket approach is up for debate. (Stallings has told Shan the same thing.)

We shot 38-66 (57%) from the floor, and were 11-22 from downtown. We made 15 of 22 free throws. Byars had 16, Neltner 15, Skuchas 12, Beale 10 (not sure about Shan's total). Everybody played (and had done so by midway through the first half), and everybody scored. I believe the rebounding margin was 43-27 in the Commies' favor, but don't quote me on it.

Gordon had some turnovers but 9 assists to make up for it, and George Drake is continuing to show flashes of greatness with his athleticism; his defense is coming along too.

Play of the game was a 4-point play with 1.7 seconds to go in the first half when walk-on Aubrey Hammond nailed a 3 and got fouled in the process.

Comedic play of the game was every time Skuchas scored a basket, because the heavily accented Puerto Rican announcer at the game LOVED to yell his name over the loudspeaker ("Ted...SKOOOOOCHAAAASSSSS!").

The only real negatives in this game were that we allowed their guards to penetrate too easily (as we have all season long) and we put them on the free throw line too much (they were 22 of 27 from the charity stripe). We ran our set offense the whole game so as not to give anything away to Northwestern or Tennessee Tech, both of whom were looking on. The Dores take on the winner of that game (in progress) at 2pm EST tomorrow.

Bobby O'Shea said...

Shamas,

Thanks for the update. A win is a win, and beating the might Tarzans is likely to turn heads across the country.

Stay tuned for a preview of tomorrow's match-up aganist either Northwestern or Tennessee Tech.

Stanimal said...

Kevin Stallings failed miserably in sabotaging this game, primarily due to the fact that A. The entire UPR-M team was horrible, and B. he was unable to effectively scout the Tarzans to determine the best way to lose the game. Having only 30 minutes prior to competition to prepare a losing game plan simply is not enough for Stallings, but somehow I think he'll manage with more information in the upcoming rounds. That being said, I believe Stallings will suffer greatly due to this setback in his bid to win the "Disgraceful Coach of the Year" award, which he received last season.