Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Young Guys Just Need to Relax

At halftime, the score of this game was Tennessee 28 - Vandy 20. For most teams, holding an opponent to 28 would likely give you a halftime lead. But the offensive frustration is blanketed on everyone's faces. To all the young guys out there on the court, try to relax!

Confidence is half the battle when it comes to offense. Knowing that you can go out and beat your man off the dribble, or that no matter what they do defensively you're going to nail the shot, or that the post is YOURS and no one else's.

We can look at stats all day long about this teams performance, but after watching the game last night on ESPN I don't think the statistics tell the story. There's a lack of confidence all the way around this team, and perhaps that comes from a lack of veteran leadership. Of course, this is all speculation, but my suspicions are that each player is struggling to find their offensive identity and understand what their role is. AJ is so concerned with being the workhorse down underneath that he's lost confidence in getting to the bucket. He has to believe that the post is his, that no one is going to take it from him, and that he can assert his will down there. Tinsley and Taylor want desperately to win, but they're trying to hard to do it. Some of the other guys are probably a little too concerned about earning minutes on the floor.

Some of this has to fall on Stallings. Maybe he's a bit too rigid in the offense he runs, maybe he's not finding enough ways to play to his teams offensive strengths, maybe he's getting too down on his time. The only people who really know that are in the Vandy locker room. Whatever the problem is, I really don't think it's a problem of heart. No one out there is playing lazy, it's just a problem of confidence.

Tennessee had it, Wayne Chism, as big a joker as he is, knew that he could bury threes out of the gate, and his smug arrogance exuded from that smile he got on the technical foul. So does JP Prince who I am beginning to hate with every game I watch him play. Look at Tyler Smith too, the guy had a horrible first half, but exploded in the second half because he knew that he could play better.

Obviously, Tennessee has the benefit of experience. They're talent has had a chance to play together for a while, to find their identity. Just 18 games ago most of our guys were just getting used to a college campus.

We all want to see this team succeed, but unfortunately that's going to take some time. When it happens, the team gels, and we find our offensive identity, the sky is the limit. But until then, we're just going to have to watch them struggle for a while.


Anything but Gatorade said...

I did a double-take when Jimmy Dykes called Stallings an "offensive genius" when the 'Dores had put up 14 in the first 26 minutes.

You're right, of course. Everyone on that floor except for Jeff Taylor had that deer-in-the-headlights look to them. The Vols, known to enjoy killing deer with motor vehicles, did just that, unfortunately.

Andrew Banecker said...

Gaining confidence can be a chicken and egg situation. To win, they must gain confidence, and to gain confidence, they must win.

Regardless, they can take some (but not much) solace in the fact that they're playing the best defense I've ever seen from a Vanderbilt squad. They just can't figure out what they are offensively (besides inept at this point).

Anonymous said...

AJ's foot injury is clearly still slowing him down. It's unlikely that more confidence will solve his issues this season. It's going to take PT and rest, which should be available to him sometime after finals.