Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Vanderbilt Beats Valpo 87-78

In a game that saw Vanderbilt trailing for the first time all season, the Commies came up big down the stretch with free throws and clutch execution to pull out the 87-78 win over Valparaiso in Nashville. While I didn't get to see the game, I listened to Joe Fisher's call and a few things are beginning to become clear about this team:

1) A.J. Ogilvy is as good as advertised. After scoring just two point in the first half, the big man from Down Under finished with 21 points and 7 rebounds on 6 of 9 shooting from the field and 9 of 9 free throws, picking up a pair of blocks along the way. Valpo knew the ball was going to him throughout the second half and they didn't have an answer. A quiet 21 from the Croc.

2) We have a very deep team. With the two signatures we just got, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Vandy may have some of the best young talent in the country. Young players who made a difference included freshman forward Andre Walker, who had 9 points in 16 minutes off the bench, and freshman guard Keegan Bell, who had 4 assists in 10 minutes and managed the game very well while Jermaine Beal served his first-half suspension for violation of team rules.

As for depth in general, consider that four 'Dores scored in double figures (AJ with 21, Neltner with 16, Shan with 15, and Red with 10 -- Note: Red also had 9 boards...how does he do that?) while three others made significant scoring contributions (Walker with 9, Metcalfe and Beal with 7 each). I think the ability for guys like Alan Metcalfe, George Drake, Andre Walker and Keegan Bell to come off the bench and play with confidence will pay dividends for this team.

3) We are much more dynamic than we've been in the past. No longer is this a three-point-first-thought team -- with Crocodile OG in the post and Neltner helping out, Vanderbilt is starting to open up a new brand of basketball that I'm hoping is here to stay. Team FG% was 50%. We also hit 6 of 11 threes, which seemed to be a function of the inside game opening things up on the perimeter.

4) We showed a lot of character in this game -- up 13 at the half, we lost the lead but didn't let it get the better of us, fighting back and executing down the stretch. We actually hit free throws, too (25 of 31 as a team).

5) The main thing I noticed that hurt us was allowing too many second-chance points. Stallings, who seems even more laid-back now than he did during the second half of last season (since when does this guy relate well to his players?), says this is going to be more of a focus moving forward.

I'm excited about the prospects for this season. Next game is Friday night at 10pm EST against Utah State in the South Padre Invitational. If we win we'll play the winner of Bradley and Iowa on Saturday. Start getting excited, Commodore Nation.

1 comment:

Douglas James said...

I really like this team even though we stumbled in beginning the 2nd half. Why don't we seem to be getting any attention in the national press. Especially with Florida rebuilding.