Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dores Slam on Mizzou

Kevin Stallings squad had a few questions to answer coming into their game against Mizzou: whether they could rebound effectively and whether they could shoot free throws when it counted.

Consider both those questions answered. Yet like an episode of Lost, we're still left with more questions.

The Commodores did a phenomenal job on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 45-24. They also excelled from the free throw line, stroking 26 of 31 for a cool 83.9%. Both those totals were improvements from Vandy's win over Arizona, where the Commodores were outrebounded 32-30 and only shot 51% from the line.

The new mystery is whether Vandy can take care of the ball against a team that loves to run and force turnovers. Credit Mizzou for their aggressive style of play, who was third in the nation in steals per game coming into this contest. But Vandy gave up 24 turnovers, the most of the season. "I didn't think if we turned the ball over 24 times against them we would win," said Stallings. Missouri's half court trap was extremely effective, taking advantage of any ballhandling errors from our backcourt and deflecting lazy passes.

Vanderbilt also had problems defensively, particularly in the second half where the Commodores allowed 50 points after holding Missouri to just 33 in the first. Missouri shot 6 for 13 from beyond the arc and had a lot of success penetrating and kicking the ball out, their quickness piercing the Commodores zone. The Dores had a tough time reacting over on help defense, an issue that has hurt them in the past.

But for those two things there was a lot to love about the Commodores performance. 4 players scored double digits and 7 players scored 5 or more. A.J. was absolutely unstoppable in the 2nd half, scoring 18 of his 25 points during that time, and going 11-12 from the line. Jeffery Taylor had his second double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 boards, including a thunderous dunk in the first half, and perhaps more importantly, a sweet mid-range pop from about 12 feet in the second. Dolla Beal scored 15 and hit huge jumpshots at clutch times. John Jenkins was ice water from the line in the last minute of the game, and scored 11, and Steve Tchiengang showed his ability in the low post, scoring 7 points and getting 3 rebounds.

But perhaps the most valuable player last night was Andre Walker. "He's very important to our team," Stallings said. "He plays very good defensively, he's very good at ball control, and he's a very good rebounder. It's great to have him back. His stat line tonight - he plays all over the court and does a great job." You said it Kevin: Andre was an unsung monster. He contributed 12 boards, 6 points, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals, excellent performance in every phase of the game. There is little doubt that he's our most accomplished rebounder, and his production at the 4 spot is a huge lift for this team.

While it was slightly disconcerting for the team to blow a lead down the stretch, positives are abound about this victory. It was a quality win against a tough opponent and gave us an incredible look at a team who likes to run, even better preparation for the season ahead. Another nice test is upon them when the DePaul Blue Demons come to Memorial on Saturday. Vandy should have a similar size advantage as DePaul's Mac Koshwal, their second leading scorer, will be out 3-4 weeks with an injured foot.

All in all, a great test, and a great win for the Dores.


22 comments:

Jason said...

Ah, Vanderbilt basketball. No matter the year or the players, we're the same team: over-reliant on perimeter shooting despite the potential for a devastating low-post offense and undercut by too many turnovers from bad passing and ball handling. Ten years of Stallings and nothing has changed.

Stanimal said...

Not sure I agree with you in terms of this game. Vandy had half their points in the paint, including 14 of A.J.'s 25, and contributions from Taylor, Tchiengang and Walker down low. We also didn't shoot that well from 3 (29.4%).

But turnovers and bad passing, yeah, I'll agree with that.

E. Adams said...

Great post. Any reference to Lost is good with me.

By the way, do you know why Festus wasn't playing? Was it injury or just didn't get in?

Stanimal said...

Stallings was somewhat cryptic about it, and initially I thought that it was because he felt Steve T. had progressed a bit more than Fez. But I actually think it's because he was worried about the pace of the game being too fast for him and that he might turn the ball over too much. I think we'll see a lot more of Fez this weekend against a DePaul team that likes to play at a slower pace.

J.B., M.D. said...

I wasn't able to watch, only to listen. Can somebody give me a take on what happened to let Mizzou back in the game? Was it sloppy ball handling (Tinsley, Beal, Goulbourne), bad defense in not picking up perimeter shooters, or perhaps a perfect storm of bad play? My hope it wasn't bad defense but inopportune turnovers which left defense coverage gaps.

The only thing I could see was our lead evaporate, which understandbly was temporally analogous to the declining composure of commentator Joe Fisher.

Thanks.

Stanimal said...

J.B. I think the best way to describe it was that they got hot, and we had some lapses in concentration. I think we just got away from what was successful a little bit and started to let them play their game. Our defense was pretty solid in the first half, and suffered in the second, and so our lead evaporated.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Agree with Stanimal's take -- the fact is they got hot and started draining 3s. Which would have been ok if we hadn't made a few mistakes on the offensive end, and that's where the reckless drive by Goulbourne and the few bad passes and the fact that Missouri executed their press superbly really hurt. Free throws won this game -- put speed bumps on the Tigers' momentum run and kept the crowd in it.

E. Adams said...

Yeah, Lance KILLED us in that comeback stretch. In two minutes he had two fouls and two turnovers.

I think both TOs led to layups. I know you can't blame everything on him, but it can't help his confidence or Stallings confidence in him

Stanimal said...

Goulbourne definitely hurt himself last night, but I think Stallings will still get him minutes. He is already pretty limited as it is, and it wouldn't really help the kid's psyche to cut him down too much. Plus he's a good defender and rebounder.

Tinsley's another guy who is struggling right now, but both of those guys are very solid talents, and though they may be lagging behind in the early going I think they'll come around and be solid contributors down the stretch. Just gotta have patience with them.

Bobby O'Shea said...

VUCommodores.com's blog is reporting that Festus not playing was based on match-up issues with Missouri. We recently retweeted the info at www.twitter.com/VSLNation

Steve said...

I actually heard Fez on the phone with a friend at lunch the day of the game talking about how coach told him that he was going to play Steve for the game because it was a better strategic match up. Fez seemed sure he would play much more when teams had big men...

J.B., M.D. said...

The turnover situation was especially brutal given we were playing on home court.

What's going to happen at UK/Florida? Will we be able to keep it under 20?

Nikhil said...

So apparently Stallings says he sat Ezeli, because he didn't think the Mizzou's style of play suited him.

Stanimal said...

The turnovers were disconcerting, but I would have been a lot more concerned if we had turned the ball over a ridiculous amount against a team like, say Chaminade, than against a team like Missouri. Missouri wants to get up and down the floor and force turnovers. They were the fastest paced team we have played all season. The early non-conference games prepare you for the later conference games, and I think we learned a good lesson playing this game. I expect that you'll see us take better care of the ball down the road. Remember, there's still 24 games left in the regular season, and 8 before conference play.

Anonymous said...

I think it was clear after last night who can compete in a game of top notch D1 athletes...taylor, walker, maybe beal..i dont know what the deal was with tinsley, 6TO's and 2 assists is a generous stat line for how he played!! i hope this is a wake up call for him bc right now ky,tn, and fl players are fighting over who gets to guard him. if im stallings i put goulbourne or taylor in his jockstrap during practice til he figures out how to play with real athletes. Note to AJ: please, please, please remember whatever you did to get your head on straight that game, you have teased me before into thinking we have a low post scoring threat..dont disappear when another team has a guy over 6'8"

Colin said...

Really? No one is going to point out that Beal killed us again with ball handling last night? Tinsley struggled b/c he is short and was getting trapped by their defense, but Beal kept giving it to him where he would get trapped. Does the charge Taylor took at the end completely negate the horrendous ball handling Beal exhibited in turning it over and giving them a chance to take the game? It kills me b/c he can go from fitting in and playing well and hitting a huge three to next trip down taking a horribly quick and contested three that absolutely kills momentum. A.J was clutch, and Jenkins showed a whole level of maturity in going to get the ball and wanting to get fouled, then making the free throws down the stretch that made me less concerned about how god awful long it takes him to get his jumper off, but come on you guys can't tell me you aren't consistently concerned everytime you see Beal bringing the ball up the court.
Side note: Don;t know if it was the weather or the 8 - 10 point cushion most of the game but memorial was dead last night until Mizzou made it interesting late, at which point the crowd really stepped up.

Stanimal said...

Bobby will be the first to agree with you Colin.

Owen said...

Tinsley's performance worried me quite a bit. We don't have a point guard next year outside of him, right? I liked Andre Walker's ball handling much better. Beal was pretty weak too. He seems to be pretty inconsistent this year. I feel lik Stallings should tell Beal to stop looking for his shot and just play the point guard role.

Also, AJ, please stop trying to put the ball on the floor when you are 5 feet from the basket.

Anonymous said...

colin doesn't know what he is talking about. I guess you can play the game better than you can talk it. Beal hasn't gotten the credit from stalling since he's been there. He has excuses for some when they don't have a good game but let Beal have an off game no defense of him. YOU listen to Bobby too much.

Anonymous said...

Staminal it is clear that you are full of ...

Stanimal said...

I've been accused of that before, but usually someone provides a reason why

Anonymous said...

Take one of the reasons from the others smart guy.