Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Big Step

This youthful team took a huge step forward tonight, topping Kentucky 77-64, and proving that maybe the jitters are finally wearing off.

The Commies had 4players in double digits: Beal and Goulbourne with 17, Ogilvy with 15, Taylor with 14. Jodie Meeks had 26 points, but the Wildcats were really hurt without the part of their tandem. With Patrick Patterson out, the Commodores outrebounded Kentucky 31-22.

Nevermind the fact that Patterson was out though, the Commies did a fantastic job tonight. I had some very strong doubts given our play in the first half, but the second was a tale of two halves.

What happened tonight that the Commodores really needed was a shot in the arm from beyond the arc, and that has to be credited to Lance Goulbourne. Goulbourne went 3-5 from three land, finally finding the touch which we knew he possessed. Once the first one was in, you could see the confidence build.

Great players are going to get their points, and Meeks certainly did that. But there is little doubt that Vandy's defense (and especially Jeff Taylor) did a great job making every shot a tough one. Meeks, one of the most efficient offensive players in the country, came into this game shooting near 50% from the field. Tonight, he was just 6-21. Sure he had his buckets, but they didn't come easy and they didn't come often.

Ogilvy really showed me something tonight too. His second half post performance was exactly what we've been looking for the whole year. No doubt some of that is attributable to Patterson's absence, but A.J. displayed a toughness down there tonight that we need to see from him consistently. He got a lot of points from the free throw line and he definitely should NOT be shooting threes (although we've seen him make them before), but I was really impressed with how A.J. made it known the post was his early in the game and took advantage of the Patterson-less Wildcats.

The final stretch will be a challenge with away games against Florida and LSU and two home games against South Carolina and Arkansas. A trip to Georgia is sandwiched in there as well, who is coming off a big shocker over Florida. Given our performance tonight, I believe we can AT THE LEAST be in those games, and if we can put in a great effort against Florida, I'll chalk that Tennessee embarassment up to simply a bad night.

On another note, how good did John Jenkins look in that Vanderbilt Basketball shirt (and how good did his 42.7 ppg look below his name?)


Bobby O'Shea said...

This was the first time Memorial felt like Memorial this season. The atmosphere was electric, and clearly affected Kentucky. The team fed off the crowd and played exceptionally hard (even when they weren't playing well).

We'll have to get the intern to do some research, but I really don't remember the last time Vanderbilt shot 30 free throws (let alone 40).

Lance Goulborne is a spark-plug and I love the way he plays. I look forward to seeing him and Jeffery on the floor more. At 5-6, it's possible we can end up .500 or better in conference. If we could get to 8-8 and win a game in the SEC tournament, that would be 20 wins, which considering how young his team is, has to be seen as a great accomplishment. Despite the SEC being down, you have to think that 8-8 in conference and 20 wins overall should be enough for an NIT bid. Right now, we're still on the outside looking in for the Dance, but anything can happen.

Anonymous said...

I think AJ's improvement in the post also had something to do with the fact that Lance was hitting outside. (Not to mention that Kentucky pressured the perimeter like no other - so if you make the entry pass, he has no double team coming). All of that to say, yes AJ played harder, but his being able to score more had more to do with better perimeter play from us.

Douglas James said...

I have to say I really like the idea of Taylor and Lance playing at the same time. I think their games compliment each other perfectly and I think they can both turn into excellent defenders because they are so long and athletic. My problem with this team is two fold right now. 1) Where is the offensive movement? With few exceptions everyone kind of stands around on offense. I don't see tons of cuts and movement the way we used to. Maybe Stallings is simplifying the gameplan to get these guys confidence. I don't know. 2) Continued sloppyness. We still make terrible passes and get the ball stripped a ton. I think that will come with better court awareness as the guys get more experience but at this point in the season I would like to have seen more progess. That being said the shooting is much improved and putting the ball in the basket is what it is all about.