Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bobby's Thoughts on Chaminade; Looking Ahead to Tomorrow

It wasn't until the second half of the Chaminade game that Vanderbilt played the kind of game that Commodore fans have been expecting. The fact that it came against a Division II opponent doesn't, in my view, diminish the significance of the "switch going off." Vanderbilt played pretty bad in the first half, especially when you consider that we got out-rebounded 26-19 to a decidedly smaller team (the complete stats can be viewed by clicking here). We were only up 6 to a gutsy, but ultimately bad team. Still, we pulled it together in the second half and blew the game wide-open, scoring 24 straight, and holding the Silver Swords scoreless for over 10 minutes. While Festus Ezeli got the credit for being the spark, I really think it was John Jenkins who was responsible. He hit some shots, crashed the boards, and drove the lane a couple times (although not always connecting). In short, he played like a man with a purpose. The last time we saw that was Jeffrey Taylor against St. Mary's last Friday. A.J. was O.K, but he still needs to get hungrier. I thought Jimmy Dykes made a great point about big men (I'm not sure if it was specifically related to Ogilvy or not): they've got to want the ball so bad that they've got to be willing to say in a time-out "if someone doesn't get me the ball the next time down the floor, I'm knocking someone out)." That's fire. A fire that A.J. is currently not playing with.

I continue to be unimpressed with Jermaine Beal's play at point guard. The team is not getting into an offensive flow, and he looks to me at least, to be looking for his shot more than he should. That is doubly true on fast breakes. I count at least 5 4 on 3, 3 or 2, or 2 on 1 situations this tournament where Dolla was running a break that culminated in him chucking up a three. That's not a very well executed break, especially if the 3 is taken by the guy who is leading the break and it never gets into anyone else's hands.

Taylor played pretty uninsprired, and took some bad shots. I've heard he can knock down perimeter jump shots in practice. That's fine, but he can't do it in games and that is not, at least right now, his strength. We've got shooters, we need a slasher. Jeffrey firing 3's is not a recipe for success. Tinsley also struggled, although I think Douglas James is a little harsh. Brad, right now, is a better floor general than Jermaine. Either way, I think it's only a matter of time (perhaps as early as tomorrow) where we see John Jenkins starting over Brad. If that happens it will force either a) Jermaine to play a more conventional #1, or b) Stallings to sit Dolla in favor of Brad or even Charles Hinkle.

The second half was very fact in terms of pace, but the fact that Vanderbilt only managed 3 free throws the entire game is extremely disconcerting. This team has some very good interior players. A.J., Festus, and Steve T., can all score with their backs to the basket or playing in the interior paint. Them, plus JT slashing has to be net more than 3 free throws.

Looking ahead to Arizona tomorrow, this report from STATS via The Sporting News is a must read. Arizona, in 2 games, has looked a lot better than Vanderbilt. They are young, but they are very athletic, they like to play up and down, and they've got shooters who can make you pay. I would hope that if CKS decides to press, he is more willing to call it off tomorrow than he was against the Bearcats on Monday. The 1-2-2 zone would be very effective at slowing down the Wildcats. The problem is, as always this season, rebounding. The player to watch for the Wildcats is Nic Wise, who scored 30 in Arizona's 91-87 win, including 16 of his team's final 19 points. Wise is a 5'10, senior guard who the Commodores will have to contain. Jermaine needs to use his height and his defensive skills to man-up on Wise when Vanderbilt goes man. Talyor's length should also (hopefully) help to contain Wise at the top of the 1-2-2 zone. Jamelle Horne is also scary, as he connected on all 5 of his 3 point attempts, and scored 17 points.

The fact that Cincinatti beat, pretty convincingly, a good Maryland team certainly helps Vanderbilt. The story is now, "The Bearcats are a Surprise," instead of Vanderbilt sucking. With that said, I think a 1-2 record in Maui will be incredibly disappointing. A win tomorrow against a good Arizona team that will only get better as the year progresses, could allow us to salvage this trip and have some confidence moving into a pretty difficult stretch in December, with games against Missouri, DePaul, Illinois, and Western Kentucky all within the 10 days of each other. The question will be, which Commodore team shows up tomorrow? The team that played 3 quarters against Cincy and Chaminade and got out-classed, or the team that played the second half against the Silver Swords who looked like the team we were all hoping they'd be. We'll know tomorrow at 7pm eastern, 6 central on ESPNU.


Anonymous said...

The fact is that this team needs AJ to be in double double territory; and the fact that he has not been able to get there against teams like Lipscomb and Chaminade is downright scary. The team has been able to get by so far, but starting today, we really need to have AJ firing on all thrusters. If he doesn't soon, I don't forecast good results against AZ, MO, IL, or W. KY. No amt. of production from Jenkins or Taylor will compensate for this deficiency.

VandyGold28 said...

agree on pretty much everything being said here. if the dores don't show up today arizona will throttle us just like cincy did (who i'm really growing a large hatred for - i think stallings is 0-3 now against them). aj needs a double double and taylor needs a double almost double if i'm allowed to say that. jenkins and tinsley need to hit big 3's when they are needed and jermaine needs to be a glue and run the offense effectively.

if we just run down the court and throw something up i might have a hole in my wall this evening.

walker needs to continue his production as well. out of all the disappointments this year he's been a bright spot.

Stanimal said...

I am in complete agreement with you Anonymous. A.J. has to be more of a factor on this team, period. His performance is the difference between this team being just good, to being something else entirely.

It's still early yet with this team: as Bobby said earlier, we've simply got to have patience. We're still very young and at times we don't play with a lot of confidence. That's the main reason, it seems, why we don't play with more authority around the bucket. It certainly isn't the physical tools, which are there. We just have to maintain faith that Stallings will get these guys to realize how dominate they could be down low.

Bobby's observation about Dolla at point is particularly appropriate. Part of the reason we're not playing with confidence is because, in my mind, Dolla is not acting as the floor general. He's getting the ball up the floor, but he doesn't seem to calm the troops down and get us running offensive sets. I don't know if this is Stallings preference, but there's little to no rhythm in the way we play, except for the occasional ball-screen for Jenkins. Dolla has to get this offense into more of a rhythm, he has to make everyone else on the floor play better. I love the fact that he is confident in his shot, and he certainly has improved in that category, but we need him to supplement the offense, not provide the entirety of it.

That being said, it seems almost like we have Beal and Tinsley flipped. Unlike Beal, Tinsley is not looking for his shot, and he seems to be more concerned with feeding the offense. It might not hurt to try flipping their positions at some point just to see how it works out.

Stanimal said...

Of course, it would help if Tinsley didn't turn the ball over 4 times a game. I chalk it up to a bad game because he's a pretty smart player, and he's still kind of growing.

Anonymous said...

oh its ok to feed the big aussie even with the misses and mishandling of the ball while Beal does the hard work of getting it across the line to dish it off to the others but he shouldn't shoot.Beal hasn't gotten half the credit that he deserves since arriving at nashville. Your critiques are way off Bobby and the rest of you all.

Anonymous said...

Beal didn't come to vandy to impress you oshea. I'm not impressed by your comments either, You are too one sided.