Tuesday, February 26, 2008

VSL Hotline: #1 Stunner, Edition

You'd think my peeps at law school would know this week was dedicated to Vanderbilt sports as opposed to my legal education. No such luck, although how my Crim Law professor could grill me on voluntary manslaughter with the UT game mere hours away is a crime in and of itself.

Not surprisingly, there is A LOT out there in preparation for tonight's game. Ma Patton's piece in today's Tennessean "Music City showdown pits two dream seasons" also appears in today's USA Today (and probably countless other Gannett papers). As Mo, and a host of other stories get to today, Vanderbilt has won it's last 3 against #1 including beating the eventual National Champion Florida Gators last year in Memorial.

The Man We Love to Hait has a trifecta in today's Nashville City Paper, all that are must-reads. Brett write's in Dores Welcome Shot against #1 Vols, that Vanderbilt's early-SEC woes in turning the ball over will be key tonight against a Tennessee team that force 19.4 a game. I would argue that, while turning the ball over was a factor in our 20-point drubbing in Knoxville, the real problem was poor rebounding and an inability to hit shots. Another big reason Vanderbilt lost was Wayne Chism, whose 18 points and 18 boards are stil on the minds of the Commodores according to Brett. As those who watched the UT/Memphis game with me know, I think Wayne Chism is a total beast and a force to be reckoned with; the best thing Vanderbilt can do is committ to AJ early and try and get Wayne into foul trouble.

Brett's third piece talks about Tennessee's desire to keep their #1 ranking longer than a week. Finally, Brett's got a post on Nashville Ballerz "Remembering" Last year's meeting at Memorial between these two squads.

Joe Biddle's got video on the Tennessean website previewing tonight's game. The Sporting News has the AP preview, VUCommodores.com remind everyone that tonight's game is a "White Out" (Just as an aside, aren't we Black and Gold? Wouldn't a Blackout have been the way to go despite being at home?), and Coaches Stallings and Pearl have some quotes that indicate both men know how important this game is to their respective teams.

I'm sure there is more out there, but that should get people started. If you see any other articles or hear any chatter on tonight's game, let us know in the Comments section.

VSL Nation will be present at Mulligans in the Fan in Richmond, VA for Tuesday's showdown. As always, the DC crowd will be at Buffalo Billiards. Phoenix, KC, and San Francisco. If you are in or around any of those areas, you can get information by clicking on the Alumni Association's website. If you have a gathering in another city, send the info into the newsroom and we'll let the people know.

Final Thoughts:

Tonight's game is a huge one, not only because we have a shot to beat the #1 in America on national television, but because this will show just how "tough" this team is. This is a are or are you not "ready for prime time" game. A few keys:
- Rebounding was awful in Knoxville. UT isn't a particularly good rebounding team and for Vanderbilt to dictate pace, they'll have to limit UT's second chance points and hit the offensive glass hard.

- Crocodile OG has to be a factor in this game. He played better in the second half in Knoxville, but was a non-factor early. If Vanderbilt can run their offense through him in the post it opens up Shan and Red from the outside, and cutters into the middle.

- This is a showcase game for Shan. He played badly in Knoxville and would love to get his tonight. He's added another dimension to his offensive game by being able to put the ball on the floor and pull up from 15-18. Still, Tennessee is a better defensive team than most, and will make it their business to shut him down.

- Chris Lofton showed that he can be a very undiscplined player when the defense is particularly hectoring. As Papa O'Shea (who turns 103 today, Happy Birthday Old Man) would say, "they need to have someone in his jock when he gets off the bus." See Pops, I listen.

- Who's going to be the 3rd go-to? That's the key question for the Commodores. Shan and AJ need to get it done, but to have a spot to win this game, someone else is going to have to be the man. The lady friend's been sending out positive vibes to Ross for some time, and I think his game (when he actually plays it) is conducive to success against the Vols. If not him, Red or Dolla Beal are also likely studs. Unlike in the Georgia game though, the bench is going to have to be a factor. UT is deep and likes to play up-tempo, the best way to keep up is rebound (see above) and get quality minutes from the pine.

Just under 10 hours to tip and I'm already nervous.

Bobby, OUT.


Anonymous said...

about 9.5 hours til' tipoff. i'm nervous as well. we can't forget what we owe these guys from our first game in knoxville. time to step it up and make sure the sixth man is there to support the dores.

Seamus O'Toole said...

I agree with all of what O'Shea said, but I think with AJ the story is reversed. To win this game, we MUST be able to hit shots from outside from the outset. Against Memphis UT knew they weren't going to make 3s all day so they were able to stay condensed in their defense, but that won't be the game plan against us. If we hit some early 3s off of screens, we can get them extended out on the perimeter, and that's when AJ will really be key.

There's no doubt they're going to be all over Shan. Alex Gordon should not hesitate to put the ball up early in the game when Shan is most likely going to be blanketed. Red is, in my view, the obvious 3rd option and we need him to have another big game. With someone other than Shan bringing the defense out, AJ will open up. The key for him is getting to the FT line.

On the defensive end, I think the biggest thing is getting them into a half court offense and not allowing them to run the way they'd prefer. If we're giving up points in transition we're cooked, especially given the fact that AJ gets pretty tired when the game is up-tempo like that.

Last thing I'd like to see on the offensive end is dribble penetration from Jermaine. If they do play us overextended, Dolla Beal has to either find a cutter or make his way to the basket to find AJ or kick out to a shooter.

Has anyone seen the video message from the senior players to the fans re: whiteout? Listening to Metcalfe will make your day: http://vucommodores.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/2008-white-out-022608.html

Anonymous said...

haha, hey vanderbilt fans.

'tis funny indeed. i have a message to AJ. remember at the end of the first game whent he UT student section was chanting USA? now, don't get me wrong. i love my country. but that was classless. AJ, show 'em what the Aussies are made of

Anonymous said...

O'Shea, if you promote Joe Biddle, i.e., the ultimate pro-Tennessee hack again, there will be consequences.

A trap game? How can a game that Vegas sets the line at a mere 2.5 pts be a "trap" game?

A "trap" game is more like TN's loss vs. KY earlier this year, not a game against the #14th ranked team in the nation who happens to be 16-0 at home this season.

Marv said...


Das Fuhrer said...

Seamus said, "Alex Gordon should not hesitate to put the ball up early in the game when Shan is most likely going to be blanketed." Tell me one time in his career he wasn't lobbing up threes from all over the court. I predict Metcalf to put up double digits, including a two handed tomahawk that sends memorial apesh*t.

Marv said...

There is no such thing as a two-handed tomahawk. The hawk comes in one varietal only.

Also, CBS has us as a 5 seed, which I agree with currently (pending the decision tonight), but how on God's Green Earth did Notre Dame find its way to a 3 seed ?!!?

Douglas James said...

Metclaf fooled us with like 2 1/2 good games....he has been non-existent since. I think Neltner and Red are most likely to step up. Red has never been afraid to shoot and if he can get hot early that would be awsome.....

Anonymous said...

bobby...the only problem : you have selective listening skills...you miss most of my infinite wisdom..

Aaron said...

biggest game in regular season history for the Dores. We need to play the game at our pace, not theirs, and we must shoot 41% or better from beyond the arc.

I hate UT, and nothing sucks worse than their fans, their "city" and their stupid vomit orange uniforms.

By some sort of scientific property, we could be the best team in Tennessee:
UT beats Memphis
We are the best team in Tennessee!

Marv said...

I believe thats the Transitive Property.

-I went to Vanderbilt

Unknown said...

Anybody else in the Baltimore area want to get a group together for the game tonight?

Anonymous said...

officially one hour away from my pre-game practices. the dinner shall be nice. the game shall be better.

it's a cold one in nashville and there's a few flurries. white flurries. for the white out maybe? maybe when the game starts the city will be in full white out effect.

Anonymous said...

Vandy by 2.

Pete W. said...

come on vandy administration! let 'em storm the court! this is america!

Woody said...

Unbelievable game! I was watching in DC with a rockin' crowd that was easily the loudest in the bar. Oglivy's play was disapointing to say the least, but how about SHAN FOSTER. His play down the stretch saved the game.

I'll leave the analysis to the pros but that game was simply awesome.

Go Dores!

Unknown said...

Amazing game, and I am looking forward to getting furious at all the UT apologist follow up tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

The refs were not afraid to blow the whistle tonight. That definitely helped us keep the pace where we wanted it. We hit a lot of big shots; the rebounding could use some work.

I think Shan showed why he we will be SEC player of the year. Lofton played as well as I have seen this year, but he couldn't top Foster's performance.

I am drunk. Go Dores.


Anonymous said...

It's just now Wednesday AM in Boston, and I am going to pour myself a single malt scotch and smoke a cigar...(outside or my sleeping fiance will kill me, it's humid and 42 degrees, very balmy)

I know VSL is a bourbon crowd, but it's lagavulin tonight.

To beat the #1 team with Croc OG on the bench for the 2nd half...this team's ready for the NCAA.

Woody said...

Just came across this stat: There were 12 TOs...in the whole game. UT had 5, we had 7 (Beal and Neltner had none). Our ability to hang onto the ball against UT's pressure defense was big.

We're also the lead story on ESPN: http://espn.go.com/

Must be lonely to be a UT fan in TN right now: Memphis hates you because you beat them and we just beat you. Awesome. Maybe Pearl will keep that blazer in the closet, along with his shiny shirt.

Aaron said...

just shotgunned a natty light in celebration! it was amazing. WE ARE THE BEST TEAM IN TENNESSEE

Anonymous said...

all i can currently do is enjoy this one