UK’s game against South Carolina provides a road-map to beating the #1 Wildcats Saturday at Rupp: hustle from the bigs; specifically, on the offensive glass. With this in mind, Vanderbilt would be well-advised to play with the reckless abandon that the Gamecocks displayed in besting the previously unbeaten Wildcats. The Commodores depth, particularly inside, if harnessed correctly, could be the difference. I know Vanderbilt has never been known as an aggressive rebounding team (especially on the offensive glass), but that strikes me a key to the game.
Granted, Vanderbilt doesn’t have Devan Downey, who continues to impress the hell out of me (and everyone else in America); but as Stanimal convinced me during a textversation during the 2nd half of this game, South Carolina’s offense is incredibly 1 dimensional. He claims that this game was a complete anomaly for the Gamecocks because of how well they rebounded (and how badly UK played). Stanimal says: “This game demonstrates one thing: UK is young and can be rattled when things aren’t going smoothly.” I would agree to some extent, but would just note that the Wildcats have won several very intense games against some quality opponents (the UConn game at Madison Square Garden certainly comes to mind).
Parenthetically (as if this whole post hasn’t been a long ramble), I would say that as difficult as it is to go on the road and face Tennessee and Kentucky in consecutive games, facing these two teams coming off losses, makes the task ahead for the Commodores that much more difficult. My question is, independent of talent, what’s worse for Vanderbilt: facing a Tennessee team that was embarrassed at Georgia? Or a Kentucky team that basked in the glory of being #1 for such a short period of time? Factoring in talent, injuries/personnel availability, and the “rivalry” of each game, I still think Saturday’s game at Rupp poses a bigger challenge. But it’s close.
As Seamus said, check out VSL tomorrow for Stanimal’s Vanderbilt v. UT preview. I am presently in Knoxville, and looking for tickets (as luck would have it). All I know is this, right now, YOUR Vanderbilt Commodores at #1 in the SEC East. Do you like Apples?