Monday, February 4, 2008

Thoughts on the Auburn Game and Whatever Else I Want

First off, I'll admit I might have been too hard and reactionary about Red. Seamus pretty much reamed me when I suggested he be taken out of the starting line-up. He was right. Had it not been for Red in the first half, Vanderbilt would have gone into the half barely up if at all, despite Auburn's woeful shooting (22%). Red's 10, combined with AJ's 13 was exactly what the Commodores needed. There 26, coupled with Dolla Beal’s HUGE 40 foot heave gave Vanderbilt a 12 point lead going into the break, a lead that they needed all of to hold off the Tigers.

Second: Vanderbilt has got to work on their out-of-pounds plays. By my count, the team turned the ball over 5 times in-bounding it, and had trouble another 3 times. This is pretty basic. If you can't execute a play just to get the ball in play, how the hell are you going to run any kind of offense?

Third: Vanderbilt's lack of killer instinct early almost cost them the game. As I discussed in my mea culpa above, Vanderbilt was lucky to be up 12 at the half. At home, coming off losing 4 of 5, playing a team that shot a paltry 22% from the field, Vanderbilt should have been up more than 12. And that 12 was inflated by Beal's half-court bomb. Winning games in conference is not easy, no matter who you play. When you have a chance to put a team away early, especially at home, especially when you are desperate for a win, you've got to do just that. Vanderbilt didn't and it almost cost them the game.

Fourth: I liked that CKS went to the bench and had 10 guys playing, especially early. Perhaps I'm skewed by Seamus' love of George Drake, but to me, he showed his athleticism on several occasions. The more Drake plays in games, the more his game will catch up with his natural athletic abilities. He makes some mistakes, but I think this guy could be a real playmaker in the years to come.

Fifth: Despite getting 13 in the first half and 19 overall, I thought they could have gone to him more. AJ went to the line 8 times in the first half, and not again in the second. He was dominating inside, yet only took He only took 9 shots. I would have liked to see Vanderbilt dump it inside to AJ every time down the floor.

Sixth, part A: Vanderbilt's inability to stop the opposing team's best scorer and force another player to beat them is discouraging. Auburn's Tolbert single-handedly brought Auburn back and gave them a shot to win the game. He had 11 points in the first 5 minutes of the second half, and 26 in the half. WHAT?!? How is it possible you let someone go off like that? Eventually, pride's got to take over. Hearing that really concerns me going down the stretch, especially with Vanderbilt traveling to South Carolina to face Devan Downey.

Sixth, part B: Vanderbilt, for the second game in a row, and the 4th time in conference play, has come out flat after the half. Thank god we were up 12. Lapses like this do one of three things: they let teams back into games (Auburn), they let teams pull away (Ole Miss), or they let teams continue to beat you down (UT and UF).

Seventh: Vanderbilt's zone was effective in the 1st half when Auburn was shooting 22% from the floor. Yet, when Auburn heated up, we stayed in the zone. Which did two things: one, didn't prevent them from raining 3's and two, allowed Auburn to dominate us on the glass.

Eighth: Shan showed what he can do in the second half. He played like the leader this team needs him to be in the second half. He had 3 in the first but pouring in 13 to help Vanderbilt pull away.

Ninth: Jermaine Beal is a dynamic player who was, in my view, ultimately responsible for the W. The half-court shot was key, but he took over between in the 90 seconds between the 6 minute mark until the last media timeout and sparked the 9-0 that put the game out of reach.

Looking Ahead:

Vanderbilt goes back on the road for consecutive times for the last time this season. At Georgia and at South Carolina are two very winnable games. I think this team, at the very least, needs to split this road trip. A sweep would be great, but losing both would be a real setback, especially with games upcoming against Florida, UT, UK, and Mississippi State.

Vanderbilt Articles to Check Out:
Stallings and the Seniors from Mo Patton in the Tennessean

Ugly Win Still Looks Pretty to Vanderbilt
- Mo Patton, Tennessean

The Man We Love to Hait writes the Commodores Live to Fight Another Day in the City Paper

Brett's also got a post on Nashville Ballerz with the latest on Vanderbilt's recruiting. Signing Day is Feb. 8th.

Polls released after noon. Where do you think the Commodores will end up? I think we'll stay put in both. You can track the polls by clicking here.

Vanderbilt "Should Be In" according to Andy Glockner's Bubble Watch on, but Joe Lunadri has Vanderbilt as an 8 seed with a second round showdown against Dook. There's still time, and with Vanderbilt's home stand down the stretch, that seed should certainly creep up.


Anonymous said...

20th and 23rd.

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

Anybody else watching this UF/UT game? This has been the most entertaining game of the year.