Monday, December 7, 2009

Illinois Week Begins

Apparently Memorial Gym was only half-full on Saturday due to the 3 pm SEC Championship kickoff. (Speaking of which, did you know that Nick Saban is a terrible controversial person who once compared Alabama's loss to Louisiana-Monroe to Pearl Harbor and 9/11? Did you also know that he is the #1 most-hated coach (#9 overall most-hated figure) in all of sports? I bet you did.) Well you can bet that Assembly Hall will NOT be half-anything when the Dores come to Champaign tomorrow to take on the Fighting Illini, who are 6-2 and rolling after an improbable comeback win at #19 Clemson on Saturday. In the words of Mr. Terrell Owens, the #4 most disliked person in sports, "Get your popcorn ready."

Whether Vanderbilt is ready for this game might not be the easiest question to answer at the moment. On the one hand, we've had great preparation in terms of playing on the road. On the other hand, this is the first seriously rowdy home crowd we will have faced (no offense to St. Mary's). On the one hand, AJ's been taking it to the rack and killing it from the free throw line while Andre Walker's been dominating basically every stat category that isn't points scored. On the other hand, Beal and Tinsley have both been shaky at times and the sweet-shooting frosh got a little dinged up in Saturday's contest. So questions abound. The DePaul game rattled enough cages in Commodore Nation to generate some heated commentary -- what are we gonna get from y'all this week?

First things first: with six wins and only one loss to a now-Top 25 Cincinnati club, it'll be interesting to see what the voters think of Vandy when the polls come off the press. Bring on your predictions.


Anonymous said...

There's something off about this Vandy team, and I've been struggling to identify what it is. Compare it to the 2006-07 squad with Byars and Foster that went to the Sweet 16. That team lost decisively to G'town and Furman and almost lost to Toledo in overtime. I believe it also lost its 1st SEC game to Auburn. Yet, I never doubted that it was a great squad that could beat the best team in the country. It did just that by winning decisively against FL, ultimately proving the skeptics wrong by almost upsetting G'town to go to the Elite 8.

I don't have the same feeling about this Vandy team. Maybe it's the fact that they have gone on scoring spurts, but never executed the offense consistently. I don't sense the same urgency as the 2006-07 team had. To be frank, I'm getting the same feeling as I did with the 2007-08 team, specifically that they'll win most or all of their home games, struggle on the road, and ultimately fade in the stretch, losing in the opening round of the SEC and NCAA Tournament.

That could change, however. I see this Illinois game as similar to GA Tech game in the 2006-07 season. Our first chance to see how the team fares against a Top 25 ranked opponent. Illinois will be ranked this week. Let's see the intensity level. If Vandy fights hard (whether or not they win) it will go a long way to easing my doubts about this team.

Unknown said...

I'm in champaign and have seen Illinois in person several times including their Boise St game. The Illini were not impressive and needed free throws to hold off BSU. Vandy can get a three any time they want. U of I had awful defensive rotation. Also, Boise used a lot of high-low as Illinois is weak on the interior (Tisdale weighs about a buck ten). I think Taylor and Walker will give this team fits on the glass. In general, I think we match up well against Illinois and the crowd may be less of a factor considering finals start thursday.

Colin said...

This game has Illinois jumping out to an early lead and us hanging around but never really getting back into it written all over it. Thankfully it's not a must win, and I think Illinois legitimately challenges for the big 10 title since MSU is still over rated and Ohio State players can't safely execute dunks.
As for some of that heated discussion I want to go on the record and say that a) I don't just randomly bag on one player who strugles in a particular game, I have been pointing out Beal as the weak link all season and am not backing off just b/c he has inflated scoring stats do to taking an excessive amount of unnecessary shots and the assist to turnover ratio doesn't appropriately convey all the times when he puts teammates in bad positions leading to turnovers and fails to cover a perimeter guy (please see Mizzou comeback and his post passes where he stares excessively at AJ before attempting to throw it in). Here's hoping Jenkins is healthy and gains K-Stall's confidence b/c our best lineup right now is AJ, walker, taylor, TINSLEY, and JENKINS. And yes I do think a freshmen on the road in a hostile environment is better then a senior Beal these days, or at the very least they are a push.

VandyGold28 said...

This game defines a lot. If Vandy wins this game it means big things. I don't think Illinois or Vandy will be ranked come this afternoon. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Colin I'm glad that you don't get paid to think.Is this a friend of Tinsley or is this tinsley? Was good at threes but not lately and very little else, poor passes and ball control.

Unknown said...

I didn't say Tinsley blows me away but he at least is young and has upside, where as Jermaine is old and getting worse not better (He peaked two years ago with Shan). Incidentally I also hope you don;t get paid to think, b/c Tinsley already plays alongside Beal, my suggestion which was pretty clear was to replace Beal with Jenkins. Look at who was getting the ball and being clutch down the stretch against Mizzou, Jenkins. Beal tried to blow it with a moronic play, so case in point.