Thursday, November 19, 2009

VSL Gets You Ready: Previewing Vanderbilt/St. Mary's

Vanderbilt starts their trek west tonight against the 2-0 St. Mary's Gaels from the West Coast Conference. This game will not be televised, but can be listened to online with Dave Lewis (filling in for Joe Fisher who will be in Knoxville) on the call, or be watched via webcast through St. Mary's (PPV). The game tips at 11:30 eastern, 10:30 central, and 8:30 local.

This will be only 1 of Vanderbilt's only 2 bona fide "road" games before starting SEC play (Maui doesn't count since everything, save Chaminade is traveling) in January, and should be a good test and even better tune up for this team headed to the Invitational. So what should we expect from the Gaels?

St. Mary's enters the game 2-0 after beating New Mexico State 100-68, and San Diego State 80-58. Neither game has been particularly competitive as the Gaels have gotten off to early leads, out-scoring their two opponents 83-47 in first. As such, it's clear Vanderbilt will have to start fast.

The Gaels only return 1 starter from last year's 28-7 NIT team, that saw Patty Mills turn pro and 6’8 C Diamon Simpson graduate. In all, the Gaels lost their starting point guard, and a total of 44.9 points and 22.2 rebounds a game. Still, despite losing 4 of 5 starters, the Gaels are not without experience. Of the 5 starters, 3 are red-shirt seniors, 1 is a junior, and 1 is a true freshman.

The biggest impact player for St. Mary's is 6'11 C Omar Samhan, who averaged 14.1 points and 9.4 rebounds a game, and was voted to the First Team All-WCC. In the Gael's last game, the red-shirt senior dropped an impressive 17 points along with grabbing 16 rebounds. Festus, who is likely to start for the second straight game as Kevin Stallings tries to limit A.J.'s minutes early, will certainly have his hands full. However, this game will be a great chance to see just how much Ezeli has progressed. For Vanderbilt to be successful, Festus will have a stay out of foul trouble and limit force one of the other Gaels to beat the Commodores.,When A.J. is in the game and matched up with Samhan, this is likely to be film viewed by NBA scouts.

Samhan isn't St. Mary's only weapon however. PG Mickey McConnell filled in for Mills last season when he broke his hand, and will certainly benefit from that experience this season. This year, he's averaged 18 a game, but dropped 24 against San Diego State. The 6 footer is certainly the engine that makes the Gaels go. Jermaine Beal will be matched up against the junior. Jermaine has a year of experience, and 3 inches on McConnell. Still, it always seems the Commodores have a difficult time containing small, slashing guards.

Ben Allen, a 6'11 red-shirt senior Aussie is averaging 12 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. Rounding out the senior class is 6'4 guard Wayne Hunter, who is averaging 10.5 points and 3.5 boards a game. Rounding out the starting 5 is freshman Matthew Dellavedova, another Aussie (1 of 5 on the team) who has averaged 18 points and 3.5 assists in two contents. I would suspect Brad Tinsely will be matched up against Dellavedova. Also worth mentioning are St. Mary's talented threesome of freshmen: Tim Williams, Trey Anderson, and Collin Chiverton, who all redshirted last year. Based on the first two games, it seems as if the Gaels go 8 deep, with 3 guys getting between 11-17.5 off the bench. With that said, I'm not sure how indicative these numbers are given how light the Gaels' competition has been.

Because St. Mary's starts 2 6'11 guys, it wouldn't surprise me to see some twin towers action from A.J. and Festus, however given the athleticism and size of Andre Walker, Steve Tchiengang, and Lance Goulbourne, I imagine there will be a lot of combinations on the floor for the Commodores.

It's hard to know just how good the Gaels are given the lack of competition they've faced. St. Mary's is averaging 90 points a game, is holding their opponents to 37.6% from the floor, and 24% from downtown. A concern for me after the Lipscomb game was Vanderbilt's turnovers. The Commodores turned it over 18 times against a somewhat undersized Lipscomb team. The pace on Monday was, at times, frantic, in part by design as Vanderbilt looked to press the Bisons. Given their depth, I wouldn't be surprised to see Vanderbilt try and play up-tempo, but if they are going to do that, they've got to take care of the ball better than they did Monday.

With only 1 game, it's very hard to know what to expect from the Commodores. Certainly, Jeffrey Taylor played the kind of game that Vanderbilt fans loved to see. 20 points and 7 rebounds (5 offensive) in 23 minutes is great. Beal dropped 17 and only turned it over twice (but also only had 2 assists). Brad Tinsley and A.J. were also in double figures with 10 and 13 points respectively. CKS was also able to show off is team's depth by having 9 guys play at least 10 minutes (with Steve Tchiengang getting 9 minutes of run). Lance Goulbourne had an extremely efficient game that deserves a shout-out: 9 points (2-2 from the field, 1-1 from downtown) in 16 minutes.

I know the San Francisco chapter of VSL Nation will be gathering, pre-game, and attending the game in Moraga, CA, we'll be listening for your cheers and Joe Fisher's acknowledgment.

Editor's note: I've made corrections based on errors point out by the commenters.


Anonymous said...

Game's tomorrow, champ.

Unknown said...

Thanks for spending the time on the preview.

A few details:
*Diamon Simpson is 6'8" not 6'11"
*Mickey McConnell is from Mesa AZ, (ie not a 6th Australian)
*Chiverton is playing for a JuCo this season and has left SMC

The players you haven't mentioned that have been getting minutes are 6'9" Fr PF Mitchell Young (Aussie) and 6'7" So SF Clint Steindl (Aussie)

As an Australian myself I can't wait to see the Ogilvy vs Samhan matchup.

Should be a great game.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Fisher will be making the call... he's hitting the UT game, and then catching up w/ the team at the tourney.

Anything but Gatorade said...

Woah, woah, woah, it looks like you actually did RESEARCH on this post. As a blogger myself, I just can't allow you to find actual facts that might have some important impact on the game. Something more like "Patty Mills used to play for them, so they might be kinda good" is much more appropriate.

Great writeup.

VandyGold28 said...

if fisher isn't there i guess it'll be tim thompson? that sucks. fisher should go with the basketball team. at least we have hope.

st. marys is dangerous and scares me. we may lose this one.