Friday, January 15, 2010

VSL Gets You Ready: Vanderbilt Travels to South Carolina

Editor's Note: Stanimal wrote this preview but is unable to post it. As such, all adulation should be directed towards him

The red hot Commodores, winners of seven in a row, come into Columbia for an important road match-up against the South Carolina Gamecocks. A win in this one would give the Dores a 3-0 SEC record, a 2-0 conference road record, and a huge boost heading into a brutal road schedule that includes Kentucky and Tennessee.

On paper, the match-up favors the Commodores. The Gamecocks have been hurt in the paint by the loss of starting forward Dominique Archie to a season-ending injury, and the dismissal of starting center Mike Holmes. Games, however, are not played on paper, and the Gamecocks still represent a dangerous opponent, especially on their own turf.

South Carolina (11-5, 2-0) is #74 in Ken Pomeroy's rankings, and as of Thursday was #68 in realtimerpi. The primary threat for the Gamecocks needs no introduction. They're biggest wins have come against a solid Richmond squad, a Western Kentucky team that beat the 'Dores in Nashville and SEC wins against LSU and Auburn. They're losses have been to Miami, Clemson, Wofford, Boston College and Baylor, none of whom are slouch teams.

The primary threat for the Gamecocks needs no introduction. Devan Downey is a versatile, do-it-all kind of player that can drive, shoot from downtown, and perhaps most importantly, force turnovers. Downey is averaging 20.1 ppg, and 3.06 steals a game, both tops in the SEC. Downey also averages 3.7 assists per game, though he will turn the ball over at 4.1 times per game. Still, Downey is capable of putting the team on his back when they need him, scoring 29 against LSU, 33 against Auburn, and 34 in a close win over Jacksonville. Downey is not the most efficient scorer however, as his field goal percentage is 41%. Downey is the consummate slashing guard that gives Vandy teams fits. While I expect Dolla Beal to guard Downey out of the gate, I would not be surprised if Jeffery Taylor switched on to him, similar to our strategy against Mikhail Torrance on Wednesday.

Beyond Downey, it gets a little tougher figuring out how his supporting cast shapes up because of Archie's injury and Holmes' dismissal. The numbers on these guys The Gamecocks still have 8 players who average double figures in minutes. Senior Brandis Raley-Ross is the only other player who average double figures in ppg at 10.8. He is a dangerous three-point shooter and is burying shots at .425 clip. Junior Sam Muldrow is averaging 9.4 ppg, to go with 5.4 rebounds per game and a staggering 3.4 blocks per game, good for 2nd in the SEC behind Jarvis Varnado of Mississippi State. Muldrow appears to be where the majority of the post-presence has shifted, and since the Gamecocks post-depletion his numbers have increased. This trio is likely to be of primary concern to the Commodores, but there remain solid role players in freshman forward Lakeem Jackson, and junior forward Austin Steed, and senior forward Evaldas Baniulis.

Given the lack of post depth, the Commodores should follow a similar game plan as the Florida and Alabama games. The Gamecocks don't have anyone over 6'9" or 215 pounds on their roster. In addition, Muldrow has a tendency to get into foul trouble, and attacking the basket could keep him off the floor and allow us to take control of the paint early. The Gamecocks love to force turnovers and rank second in the SEC in turnover margin. They also love to press, something for which Vanderbilt should be prepared after games against Missouri and Florida. Making smart decisions on the press break and utilizing Andre Walker's ability as a secondary ball-handler will be key. On offense, it will be important to slow the game down and really work the ball into the post, freeing up Jeff slashing to the hoop and making for open 3s from Beal, Tinsley and Jenkins.

Given the upcoming schedule, Vanderbilt needs to win where it can, and this is certainly a game that they can win. We cannot afford to get complacent against teams we can beat on the road given the brutality of our schedule after Auburn next week. Therefore, the 'Dores have to come to this game ready to play, and if we can pull out a win here and a win over Auburn next week at home, we'll be 4-0 in conference play heading into Rupp.

13 comments:

Slimbo said...

FYI, Dores are currently ranked #23 and #21 in Pomeroy and RealtimeRPI respectively

Anonymous said...

Do you guys even read these articles before posting them? One read-through would eliminate many of the glaring grammatical and spelling errors.

VandyGold28 said...

Another must win in my opinion. Stopping Downey will be hard but this is a game we can and should win. This is a big one. The more we win the bigger they get.

Stanimal said...

Couldn't care less about spelling and/or grammar. (Unless you want to pay me to care.)

Colin said...

Given how much guards love playing against Vandy, and the fact that Kstall will probably wait at least a half before he takes the predicament off Downey and let's Taylor try and guard him, what is the over under on how many pts Downey Drops? 33? 37? Is there any reason given how beat up they are everywhere else that we shouldn't consider having both of them cover him at the same time and just see what happens?

AD said...

Anonymous @1:41:

Obviously you haven't been reading this site for very long. If you had, you'd know that VSL covers Commodore sports from a strict postmodern perspective. Stanimal can't be bothered with the trappings of spelling and grammatical standards because they don't really exist. At least not in his world. Any attempt to impose your draconian worldview of accuracy and integrity in the written word will make little headway here.

At least he signs his name. Anonymity is fine and should be protected, but it's just getting confusing. That people have to clarify if an anonymous commenter likes American Idol or Jermaine Beal just to follow a thread might be more distracting than typographical errors.

Go 'Dores. And be ready to chant "mustache" whenever the officials make a terrible call.

Stanimal said...

Man I love our readership.

DIMON KENDRICK-HOLMES said...

Stanimal, keep up the great posts and ignore the scoldings from the blue-haired retired school teachers.

Andrew VU '04 said...

I agree with the past three posts. Why "mustache," though? Don't get me wrong, I'll certainly do it to add an absurdist element to my sports viewing, but an explanation would help.

E. Adams said...

Nice recap. Good call on putting Taylor on their main scorer. Gotta take advantage of his size and quickness.

AD said...

Andrew VU '04:

When AJ went to the line to shoot FTs in the second half of the Alabama game, the Tide fans disagreed with the call, and could be heard chanting "bullsh--" quite clearly over the broadcast. Joe Fisher calmly explained that "the student section here is chanting mustache," and carried on with the play-by-play. I thought it was a funny moment in sports broadcasting.

Andrew VU '04 said...

That's good enough for me. I'll spread it around.

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