Monday, February 22, 2010

No Time to Dwell

Bobby is compiling his post-game thoughts, but first he has to clean up after the VSL brain trust descended on his house, much to Mrs. O'Shea's chagrin. Speaking on my own behalf, I can say that I am grateful to him for opening up his home so that we could all be there to enjoy one of the most exciting atmospheres I've ever seen as a Vanderbilt fan.

The 'Dores took the #2 team in the nation down to the wire, holding them to only 58 points and keeping them under 40% from the field. Perhaps most incredible was our performance on the glass, as we out-rebounded Kentucky 37-29.

With four games left in the SEC regular season, there is no time for Vandy to keep this loss in mind. Georgia comes to town on Thursday, followed by two huge road games at Arkansas and at Florida. The 'Dores then close their regular season out with South Carolina at home.

The goal now must be to secure a first round bye in the SEC Tournament. Though the two road match-ups will be challenging, I am further convinced that this team will not crumble down the stretch. Even when they are not playing well they stay right in the thick of things. They display a mental and physical toughness unlike Vanderbilt teams of the past. This team is extremely battle-tested, and I feel confident that we can go 3-1 down this final stretch.

Despite the loss to Kentucky, I believe a 3 seed in the tournament is still well within our reach. Finishing the season with a strong 12-4 record would create a nice argument, but winning a game in the SEC Tournament would be the icing on the cake that could lock us in to that tier. However, I can tell you right now this team has the tools to get all the way to the championship game. If Kentucky again waits for us there, well, I wouldn't want to play us a third time. You can bet that the 'Dores will not shoot as poorly as they did on Saturday for the rest of the season, and you can also bet that Stallings will not let this team forget that there's plenty of basketball left to play.

Vanderbilt fans should look at this loss in a positive light. It was a hard fought game against the #2 team in the country, and it was nearly played to a stalemate. This game convinced me, as if I needed convincing before, that Vanderbilt is far from soft. Considering our SOS and our performance against it, I think we are well prepared to make big runs both in the SEC Tourney, and in the NCAA Tourney.


Unknown said...

Just to underscore the fact that we should look at thsi game in a positive light, the team we lsot to by 2 points will, in all likelihod, have 4 first rounds draft choices in the next NBA draft.

Stanimal said...

An excellent point Thomas.

Chuck Heston said...

Couple of thoughts:

1. This was Vandy's Apollo 13 game. A failure that reminds you how good your team is under pressure. I think it will probably serve to motivate the team in the SEC Tournament, similar to how the WKU loss served to motivate them in the regular season.

2. The 3 ball starts to fall in earnest starting next game. Look for JJ and Jermaine to start hitting them consistently in game.

3. AJ's sleepwalking is done, however, his clumsiness in ball handling dept. is part of who he is. I expect him to avg. 15+ points per game on a regular basis. There will be some eye-rolling possessions along the way.

4. I agree a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament is not out of the question, but in my mind requires an SEC Tournament final appearance.

5. On occasion this team has exhibited all of the intensity and purposefullness of your avg. school yard pick up game. AS a result they've won ugly. If Vandy plays with a sense of purpose hosting GA and then on the road at Arkansas, hold on to your hats, folks.

The team has shown that it is tough. It won't be intimidated, and it can take a punch and get back up. It's not afraid of a gritty hard-fought game. And on that note, I'm off to watch The Bachelor: The Women Tell All.