Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stanimal's Final Thoughts on the Maui Invitational

What We Learned

The Commodores play was a story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Sometimes it was brilliant, sometimes it was just ugly. Let's start with the negatives, and we'll close on the positives.

I was unimpressed with the team's defensive consistency. Like most every phase of their game, at times they showed brilliance, but they would go through long stretches of poor defensive play. They have the traditional problems of getting beat by guards with a quick first step. They struggle with physical post players. Despite our size, we have trouble ending opposing teams possessions and give up a lot of offensive rebounds. At times they seem to fall asleep. Lapses in concentration lead to the team losing their man out on the perimeter, which can lead to open threes.

I chose defense first, because they highlight weaknesses that show up on the offensive side of the court as well, particularly in dealing with physical bigs and in lapses in concentration. The team is going to struggle with physical players down low at times, and at times lapses in concentration lead to too many turnovers. They have to be more aware when they put the ball on the floor of the quickness of defenders, as too many times they had it swatted away. Additionally, the team gets too out of control at times. There doesn't seem to be much flow in the way the wings run the floor, and Dolla doesn't do a great job of calming the troops down when things are a little too hectic. To his credit, he did a much better job of that against Arizona. But our bread and butter is the top of the key pick and roll with A.J., and screening for Jenkins and Tinsley to get open looks. I'd like to see the playbook open up more to get Taylor some opportunities to cut to the basket. He had a quiet tournament due in large part to teams collapsing in the paint. Part of it is his lack of confidence in his mid-range jumper. He CAN shoot that shot, he just doesn't have the confidence it takes to MAKE it.

To extrapolate that point, the main thing we lacked through the tournament was a sense of confidence and authority. That's a product of youth, and it will come with more practice. Surprisingly enough, however, the only guy who is confident shooting the ball is Jenkins, and rightly so since he's shooting about .400 from behind the arc and is only going to get better.

As to the positives, there is little doubt this group has a lot of talent. When they're on a hot streak, they're tough to beat. They have a multitude of adept passers and can get the ball to players in space very nicely. They get to the free throw line A LOT. Missing all of the free throws was disconcerting, but I don't think it's alarming as a whole. As a team we were shooting 70% from the free throw line before we went to Maui, and as a whole I don't think we shot particularly well once we were there except for the second half against Arizona. They have some athleticism and at least three guys who are on the brink of busting loose. I'm talking about Taylor, Jenkins, and Tinsley. Taylor is going to turn into a 20-10 player at some point. Jenkins will be averaging 12-15 by the end of the season, and Tinsley will be a 14-8 kind of guy with points and assists. None of those postulations are out of their talent ability.

Where we're going

With 9 games and over a month of practice remaining until we hit SEC play, there's still time for us to gel. We may not have walked away with a tournament title, but we did well for ourselves to beat Arizona, and we picked up a win on the road against a tough St. Mary's team en route. Cincinnati looks like a tournament team this year, and there was no shame in that loss, even if it doused our expectations a bit. As we get closer to SEC play, we have some more tough games against Missou, Illinois, and Western Kentucky. This schedule should prepare us for what we're about to face in SEC play.

That's about all for now. Happy Thanksgiving to all and Go Dores!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

american idol sucks

It was good to see Goulbourne getting to play more against Arizona. I think the more he plays, the better he will play. Did Stallings give up on Hinkle totally?

Stanimal said...

I think Hinkle will get some sporadic minutes, but with the rest of the guys on the roster not sure he's going to get much more.

Colin said...

So I think I recall a story early on about how the coach's wanted Beal to make this "his team" and I would like to go ahead and suggest that perhaps they retract that statement and disregard the idea. Beal is a good player, and very capable of giving the team what it needs on the court, but the mentality that this is his team is an unmitigated train wreck. Beal takes possessions off and kills runs with bad transition threes, and is basically a disaster as an on court leader, but the fact that this is his team seems to make it okay in his eyes it seems. He was soooo much better when he was down the pecking order and just a role player, b/c all he is is a good role player. I suggest we help K-stall out with this demotion and only refer to the team as AJ's team or Jeff's team. Here's hoping dolla gets an extra portion of reality with his turkey dinner.

Joseph said...

I second Colin's sentiment about dolla dolla beal yall. He is the Larry Johnson to your bengals, the TO your eagles/cowboys/bills, etc etc.. while a good athlete, he is a cancer to the team when he makes terrible decisions because its "his" team. Let's go on and give Tinsley the start at point and give him the reps in preparation for next year when we'll be a dolla short.

Stanimal said...

Not overly opposed to giving Tinsley the start at point because I think he "gets it". However, let's not rag on Dolla yet, because he is our second best scorer until Jeffrey figures out how to hit the mid-range jumper.

Douglas James said...

While I agree Beal takes some ill advised 3's to say he is a cancer on this team is just not true. The only change i think he needs to make is to go back to distributing the ball more and shooting less.

Anonymous said...

Not gunna say he's a cancer just yet. Just remember cancer cells are perfectly fine when they exist appropriately in the host, it's when they over step their bounds and participate in functions they aren't supposed to that they are damaging... drawing whatever comparisons you will

Anonymous said...

Wow this is definitely a Vanderbilt blog

Anonymous said...

Sure we looked decent at time against Arizona, but lets remember we were on our way to losing that game well into the second half. Of all the ways I was dissapointed in our play in Maui the most infuriating, and the reason I almost broke my hand, is the rebounding. When a shot goes up, our players watch the damn ball, its like they are in some sort of trance. I saw Andre Walker attempt to block out one time! Stallings may know how to draw up a play but its so embarrassing to watch them give up these offensive boards. AJ, I am convinced, has some sort of mental disability. Within a two minute stretch he is guarenteed to completely blank out and wander around the court at least once. It doesn't take an experienced basketball player to realize that when the shot goes up your get your ass. There is a lot of things we need to fix, but ITS JUST NOT THAT HARD TO BLOCK OUT. We block out and you can cut cincy's score by 20 zona's by 8 or 10. I am so ashamed of myself, being from Indiana, to be a fan of a team that can't shoot free throws and can't rebound. Its completely unacceptable for a team of their caliber to miss out on the two fundamentals of any respectable basketball team (and if you think free throws aren't important just ask your friends on the west side of the state)

Stanimal said...

1) Ashamed is probably a strong word. Really? Ashamed?

2) These things are problems, but they are fixable. The Commodores will have to string together 2 or 3 games of poor free throw shooting in a multitude of road gyms before I say they're a bad free throw shooting team. They came into the game averaging 70% as a team in the small sample size we had, so I tend to think that's more of an anomaly. The offensive rebounding is very disturbing, but the season is still very early, and while we would have liked to see a better job on the defensive glass you just can't correct a problem when you're playing 3 games in 3 days. Stallings will be looking to correct that issue, which is easily fixable by promoting more court awareness and getting back to fundamentals of boxing out.

A more alarming problem would have been if we were completely incapable of shooting from the outside, which I don't think is the case any longer. That's what limited us so bad last year.

Stanimal said...

I'm not necessarily one to be a Beal apologist, but 18 and 5 with only 1 turnover is not a bad game. Devan Downey averaged 19 a game last year, had 4 assists a game, and was 1st team All-SEC at point guard. Now Beal is nowhere near Downey on the defensive side of things and he has to be more consistent running the point, but Beal doesn't do a terrible job statistically.

But everyone is right that our offense shouldn't be predicated on the point guard shooting 12 shots a game like South Carolina. Beal needs to look for less shots and get people more involved. That seems to be what Tinsley is doing, and I think we'd prefer Tinsley to be taking shots with his ability to shoot the three.

Colin said...

I'm pretty sure that 1 turnover doesn't count the numerous bad shots in transition and poor passes that leave the next guy in a position to miss or turn the ball over (see every fastbreak). So let's not get bogged down in the stats. At the end of the day I would much rather be talking about how much Beal does to help the team that doesn't show up in the stat line, rather then trying to use the stat line to justify how he's not that bad. And I think that can be the case if K-Stall puts him in his place an makes sure he knows his role.

Stanimal said...

Hey, like I said, not being a Beal apologist. Just saying he does some good things too.

Anonymous said...

Stanimal You would like for
Beal to do all the work for masa.