Friday, February 26, 2010

Seamus's Post-Game Georgia Thoughts

Tonight Vanderbilt played like everything that a Top-25 team playing at home, on five days' rest, nearing the end of its conference schedule, with something to play for, cannot afford to play like. On the other hand, they played pretty much like you'd expect from a team that's been hungover all week from an emotional barnburner of a game that would have put them in a tie for first place with one of the best teams in the country. We looked sluggish on defense, were out of position way too often, got outrebounded 40-35, allowed too many second-chance points (19), and gave up too many points in the paint (42). All of that, and we still somehow managed to pull out a miracle 96-94 OT win when Georgia's last-ditch effort fell short.

Give the Dawgs credit: they are hands-down the best sub-.500 team in the country, and they proved tonight that what happened earlier this season in Athens wasn't a fluke. I think they are going to be really good next year, and frankly they looked like a team that deserved to win tonight the way they played hard and managed to hit their free throws (except those fateful last two in regulation) on the road.

The keys to this game for Vanderbilt were Jermaine Beal, Andre Walker, and the team's ability once again to get to the line and make it count, particularly in overtime. I want to highlight those positives first:

1. Bobby O'Shea was dead-on when he compared Jermaine Beal to Derrick Byars. This guy continues to play with an incredibly cool head under pressure, and has demonstrated time and again in his senior season an ability to put the team on his back and carry us to victory. Dolla scored a career-high 28 points on 9-19 shooting, was a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line, dished out 7 assists in a game where it was all he could do to get anyone involved, grabbed a big steal and committed (count 'em) ZERO turnovers in 39 minutes of play. Douglas James got it right -- that was the best performance in Memorial since Shan scored 42 on senior night against MSU. I thought the biggest indicators of Jermaine's impact were (1) the incredible drop-off that was obvious during the few minutes where Stallings decided to spell him, and (2) the fact that when the game was on the line and we were down late, he showed no fear. When it looked like we were going to lose down the stretch, every point we scored to climb back into the game was created by Beal, whether by taking it himself or by putting his teammate in a position to score. I cannot say enough about the game he played. Oh, also, that alley-oop to Taylor was just dirty.

2. Andre Walker gave Vanderbilt great minutes tonight. His 17 points included a HUGE three late in regulation and a big outside jumper in OT that helped lift Vanderbilt over the edge. As always with Andre, the little things went a long way: he was efficient (5-7 FG), reliable at the charity stripe (6-6 FTs), grabbed 6 boards including 4 on the offensive glass, handed out 3 helpers and made 3 big-time blocks, including a monster swat on a UGA three-point attempt with 13 seconds left in the game. Walker had a few ugly TOs (including that terrible travel in OT), but for his 38 minutes of play I have to take my hat off to the guy. His running floater brings a smile to my face every time.

3. Stat of the game: 20. Vandy made its last 20 free throws of the game. Wow. I can't remember ever seeing a Commodore team that's been this consistent from the free throw line. 35 of 39 free throws as a team is remarkable. Granted, the total number of FTs is a little deceiving because 12 of those came in overtime, but again, as a team we were 100% on those 12 in the extra session. How many coaches in the country would kill to have a group that could go 90% from the stripe as a unit? There is no doubt that as much as these SEC refs are (questionably in my opinion) calling fouls, and as well as Georgia shot their own free throws (76% in regulation), Vanderbilt's ability to pull out another win at the line was a key ingredient to victory. Let's keep that coming.

4. John Jenkins. Like Jermaine, this guy wants the ball in his hands when it's time for a big shot, and tonight he made them. His 14 points in 31 minutes were a huge boost given Taylor's tough night and Tinsley's MIA status. And folks, that will have to suffice as a segue to talk about what didn't go so well...

AJ. What are we going to do with this guy? He is driving me absolutely insane. INSANE. At times he flashes some of the best skill I've seen from a big man in college basketball. Tonight he picked up 10 rebounds, one of which was a very strong defensive board late in the overtime when we absolutely had to have it. His 16 points were largely a product of his efficiency from the free throw line, where he knocked down 11 of 14. Can't ask for your center to shoot much better than that from the line. And wow, that stick-back with 15 seconds on the clock was phenomenal. But then you look back at the easy misses underneath, the way he lumbers lazily down the court and then stands complacent in the low post instead of fighting to get a look, the failure to box out guys he's got a size advantage on, the refusal to take it up strong and flush the ball, the apparent satisfaction with getting contact on his shot rather than finishing with a bang, and the MORONIC touch-foul with 0.09 seconds to go in overtime. In AJ's defense, I think some of it is Stallings' offensive design, which often brings Ogilvy out to the perimeter to set back screens or take the screen-away pass. But this does not detract from the principal question: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH HIM?

JT. I'm basically willing to give Taylor a pass because of how well he's been playing otherwise. The guy had an off night, no doubt about it. His 11 points and 6 boards makes it look better than it was. 3 of 11 from the floor was pretty weak, but fouling out at the 2-minute mark with the team down two points was nearly catastrophic. I thought Jeff was out of position WAY too often on defense, and maybe more than anyone else just looked sluggish. Again, I don't think it's a serious problem, but not something I'm eager to see much more of as we near the end of the season.

Tinsley. One of the most potent aspects of this Vanderbilt team is that we do not start our five best players (talent-wise). John Jenkins has shown what he can do if cut loose. At the same time, I'm actually loving the fact that he's coming off the bench. I think it gives us continuous firepower and prevents other teams from getting an edge when we rotate guards. But for this whole thing to work, it would be nice if Tinsley could be more of a factor. Where was he tonight? All I can remember him doing is committing two very costly turnovers -- one after driving wildly underneath the basket and chucking it back out to the top of the key (which went for a transition bucket the other way, an obvious consequence of one of the lowest-percentage passes in basketball), and the other with just over 1 minute remaining in the game when we were down 4 points and he errantly tried to pass it to Walker, who was running to the wing to make a back screen and wasn't even close to being in position to do something with the ball. I love the way Brad typically plays, but tonight he just seemed like a ghost except for those two awful passes and his three-pointer. In 26 minutes of play, most of what I saw him do on offense was stand in the corner. Sweet. That's not the Brad Tinsley I know. I want the Tinsley who's constantly running the baseline and laying down flare screens. Give me back that Tinsley.


Bottom line: First of all, Rob Stone and Jay Williams are two of the worst people to have to spend your Thursday night with. More to the point, we are very, very lucky to be 21-6 right now. We got outplayed for much of the game on our home court, arguably got some generous calls (like that phantom over-the-back on Barnes in the OT), made some dumb plays, and basically looked slow after five days of rest. Give the Dores credit for grinding out an ugly win though, and for once again never losing confidence in their ability to win when it looked like a lost cause. The question now is whether we can turn it around for a 12:30 CST game in Fayetteville on Saturday. Well...can we?

25 comments:

Chuck Heston said...

My favorite Jay Williams misquote of last night's game occured when Steve T. was bumped on the baseline after rebounding a GA miss and clearly feigned like he took a hard foul and got the call. As they praised his acting performance, Williams should have said "What a delivery", but instead it came out "What a deliverance!"

Just one general comment about last night's game. I've bought into the notion that this is a paradigm-shifting Vandy team insofar as unlike past teams they exhibit a will to win even on the road in conf.; and they haven't had the dores blown off them in any conf. game. The record of 10-3 is proof of that. However, the true test of whether this team has broken from the past is how they finish out the regular season and perform in the SEC Tournament. Vandy teams of the past, including good ones like the 2007-08 squad, have a habit of faltering at the end, I believe, from an overall lack of intensity. Given how USC played at KY and how FL has stepped up, a performance like the one Vandy had against GA will lead to an 0-3 finish. There was a spurt of intense, emotional play at the end of regulation and for most of overtime. Vandy needs to sustain it.

AD said...

Nice writeup. If Beal can continue to show a willingness to handle the ball and drive the lane, things will be ok for this team, especially if he scores more than 6 points. Good things happen when you drive the lane and go hard to the basket, and the final stretch of this game was proof of that. But the team does it so rarely. Would like to see a little more agression throughout from them. Jenkins is great too. He doesn't move too well with or without the ball, but he fears no shot and is fun to watch.

I have been in Memorial for the past two games, which have featured some of the more questionable officiating I can remember. They're not biased for one team. It's more of a "huh?"

Does AJ even want to be playing? It's not usually me to question someone's commitment if he puts on the uniform and gets out there every night, but he stood flat on the ground and watched more rebounds than he grabbed. I agree that his offensive strategy seems to be to aim for the foul and not the basket. I can't remember a team that gets so few And Ones, and ineed so few opportunities for them. (See above about taking it to the hoop.)

Never have I seen a team that plays as well to the level of their opponent as this team. They had better finish strong so as to secure a high tournament seed because they are going to need it. My vision for tournament success is that they will be playing non-SEC teams with little prep time. In other words, teams for which the scouting report on AJ is not out. All we need is for teams to mis-plan for us and we may grab a couple wins in the NCAA. For me, though, I just hope they make it out of the first round.

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

Aside from the W, the second best thing about last night was the telecast was muted at the bar. What a deliverance!

TackerDad said...

Another Jay Williams-ism was "comfortability" for "comfort." He's easily the most accomplished destroyer of the English language in a public role since the "decider" himself, George W. So much for a Dook education,

Also, I had a of of sympathy for Georgia and the "they deserved to win" thing until I read Leslie whining about the officiating. "We couldn't get any calls. They got a lot of calls. That's what got us."

With that kind of attitude, I can see why they're losing so many close games.

I agree with AD that the officiating is a "huh?" Why do people always want to make incompetence out to be bias?

Seamus O'Toole said...

While we're killing Jay Williams, I particularly liked his comment prior to a commercial break: "You think Georgia's 4-8? You think they have a chance to win this game? Mr. Thompkins thinks otherwords!"

Then as it's fading out you hear Stone say, "Words?" What a couple of clowns.

Douglas James said...

Also after JT thunderous alley oop Williams said something to the effect that Taylor has something to say to the people praising Leslie as the most athletic guy in the conference. When it was Williams who was saying that the whole game.

Andrew said...

Anyone have a theory of why there are so many terrible sports announcers? It's one of the most desirable jobs imaginable, so it should attract huge talent. In reality, it attracts hacks who can't even get names right. The only thing I can come up with is that really bright people never start in the profession because it's so hit-or-miss, whereas anyone who can get into a top 10 law school is virtually guaranteed a pretty good livelihood.

Douglas James said...

1) Its very difficult. Everyone I know mis-speaks (spokes?), mis-pronounce things and fumble over words. So to have to talk for 3 straight hours must be difficult. I can't even write a comment in proper english.

2) 99% of color guys are ex athletes. Not the most well-spoken of professions.

Anonymous said...

you know George, they typically give those jobs to ex-ball players

Colin said...

I'm going to politely disagree with this analysis and say you are just trying to be optimistic... Are you only recalling the end of game and OT? No one gets a pass. That was pathetic. UGA is not good, they have one zero games on the road this year and they almost beat us in Memorial, and in fact did deserve to beat us b/c we fouled the heck out of that guy on the last play in regulation. At the end of the day we got the W and that's what matters but no one gets a pass. Beal wasn't that impressive, he was just the best of the worst last night, (FYI if you watched the espnu halftime show the analyst basically said everything i have been saying all year about Beal, while the anchor acted amazed and did his best VSL impression, multiple people pointed this out to me). I'm glad our pg loves lighting up the bottom of the SEC as he CONTINUES TO DRIVE LEFT AND ATTEMPT TO FINISH WITH HIS RIGHT. did no one watch the first half? and yes Jenkins started scoring some but he looked pitiful in the first half, refused to pull the trigger and looked scared with the ball. You can;t negate the first 20 minutes of the game when you evaluate someone.

Colin said...

Also, HOW DARE YOU EVEN ATTEMPT TO COMPARE THIS GAME TO SHAN VS MISS ST... I am gunna assume you guys are just trying to get excited because that is down right blasphemous, irrational and might result in you all needing to have your fandom suspended. Maybe the greatest single game performance in Vandy history just got compared to a mediocre performance that eeked out a win we didn't deserve against the second worst team in the conference. Shan was unconcious, did you guys just not see that game? is that why you don't appreciate it? This is so infuriating, I know you all are Beal Homers but this is a new low.

Seamus O'Toole said...

HAHAHAHA. Welcome back, Mr. Predicament!

Colin said...

what exactly was it about Beals performance late that was so Shan-esque? Was it his 0-2 for three pointers inside the last 3 minutes? Or his miss on the last possession that AJ saved him on? Beal is currently 0 for 2 on effectively running last second plays in back to back games. I'm offended for Derrick Byars that you even compared the two, and Shan should be suing you all for libel

Colin said...

Shan made 9 consecutive 3's to save us against a quality opponent that night while scoring 40+, Jermaine went 3 of 8 from behind the arc, and couldn't make 9 straight layups at this point. The only thing he did well was shoot free throws which he hit 7 in a row of, 2 short of the amount of 3's foster hit in crunch time that night. You know from farther away and with guys up in his face. Fun fact 5 3pters is also the amount of 3pters he missed against UK on saturday, didn't see anyone praising him then.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Easy there, big guy. Listen to yourself. No one's comparing last night to Shan on senior night, just saying it was the best we've seen from a Vanderbilt player in Memorial since then. Mostly because it was. (Also, I thought you weren't really one for the stat lines. Change of heart on that?)

It's 5 o'clock somewhere Colin - have yourself a drink. Either that or take your pills. Actually never mind, this little agenda of yours is just too damn entertaining. Keep it coming, Predicament!

Tim said...

I have never commented before so here goes my two cents: 1. This is one of the best basketball season's in this schools history. Beal must be doing something right. 2. I demand a news conference be called to issue a public apology to Shan "the truth" Foster. I can not take people seriously when they compare Beal's game last night to the performance against Miss St. Shan was just silly.

Colin said...

The implication that these are even in the same category are ludicris. Shan scored 27 consecutively from behind the arc in that game which is one less then Beal scored the entire game aginst the SECOND WORST TEAM IN THE SEC. I could think back about a week or so to find a better performance in memorial how about JT versus UT? He scored 26 and led us to a beat down of an actual team. I had tapered off b/c Beal has been playing better and you all were atleast acknowledging some of his faults but his play has slipped in the last few games and it has flat out cost us and you all refuse to be honest about it, and are instead going the opposite direction and overhyping him. Let's see him show up against a good team, then revisit this conversation until then you sound like idiots. I would take the espnu commentators opinions over yours on this matter at this point.

Anonymous said...

Colin I just have a simple question, if you'll oblige me: has Jermaine Beal, at any point, had sex with your mom?

Colin said...

I attempted to use stats in order to speak your language in hopes of showing you how irrational you all are being even by your own metrics. Please point out to me which comment I have made about Jermaine Beal in the last few weeks that hasn't been spot on? Oh wait there isn't one, I have both acknowledged his strengths and weaknesses and offered actual analysis of his play, analysis which both Jay Bilas and who ever the analyst was last night have mirrored after I had laid it out on this forum. I'm sorry I'm not getting in line to service a mediocre shooting guard moonlighting as a point guard who uses bad judgement and who I officially don't want taking the shot when the game is on the line in the tourney, since he is currently 0 for 2.

Douglas James said...

Why it reminded me of shan against miss state but I agree not that close was it was a game at home late in the season that we should win comfortably in which we as a team were playing TERRIBLE. And then our senior leader stepped up. Beal drove to the hole (like he should have done against uk) with authority. The man had ZERO turnovers which is even more amazing because he had to bring up the ball so quickly the last few mins. Finally while hitting 7 straight free throws is not amazing. It is clutch compared to UGA's players. When it comes to Beal I think we are pretty rational. We say when he messes up and point out his successes. Believe me I don't think he is the 2nd coming. Just think he stole a game last night which I had not seen since shan. What foster did was unbelieveable and maybe the best 4th quarter in VU history. Sorry for associating the two and offending your delicate sensabilities.

Douglas James said...

Also just a few weeks ago we were getting bashed for being too hard on dollah. Hahahaha

Seamus O'Toole said...

Colin --

Regarding this self-proclaimed "spot on" analysis of yours: Are you referring to your statement glorifying Tinsley as "the one guy who adamantly wants to go to the line at the end of games," or were you instead making reference to your brilliant dissection of the team's character when you said Tinsley is the "only one who looks to grind the life out of opponents when we get going even if its at the line and not as fan pleasing as dagger threes"? Perhaps you were harkening back to your prescient suggestion that Jenkins replace Beal in the starting lineup?

Wait a second -- I know what you're making reference to. Definitely must be this genius remark of yours: "Statistically [Beal] should never shoot a three. So unless he has the ball as the shot clock expires it is a mistake regardless of whether it goes in or not." I mean wow, that is just so smart. I would hate to have my leading scorer and second-best three-point shooter taking shots. I'd much rather institute a rule that only John Jenkins can shoot threes because, statistically speaking, he is the best on the team at doing it. By this logic I guess Steve Tchiengang and Andre Walker should be shooting treys all day long, seeing as they're each 1 of 2 on the year.

Yeah dog, your "spot on" analysis just has all of us here at VSL in a real "predicament." In fact, you should definitely apply to be Jay Bilas's personal assistant. Let me know if you need a reference!

Out for the night - Happy Friday folks, and let's get ready for a great team win tomorrow.

Colin said...

First off Douglas, I don't think I have ever bashed you for being too hard on Beal, and while your clarification is less offensive to Shan the fact remains we should praise zero people for that poop fest last night, b/c even our best player last night (who I admited was Beal) was shaky at best.
Secondly Seamus, I stand by all my comments except the ones your making up. Including those I made about about Tinsely, even though I clearly pointed out that I was referring to my Beal stance. At the time Tinsley was the main guy doing that, I'm so glad Jermaine needed a sophmore to show him how a finisher is supposed to act at the end of the game, and I still think Jermaine would have gotten his act together sooner in the season if he had gotten benched for a game in lew of Jenkins (which is what I was suggesting as the rational behind that move), b/c he was miserable early on and cost us in nonconference, which is relevant if you guys didn't care about only the most recent games. Speaking of recent games Beal is 4 for 17 in the last three games from 3pt, so yeah I'm very okay with him not shooting any given that he's not even shooting 25% lately his shot selection blows nuts, and the argument that it's a dagger if it goes down is retarded and something Jay Williams would say. I never said walker or steve should shoot as well, so your clearly grasping at straws, and any logic makes it clear that they don't shoot enough to fall into this analysis and if they did they would also blow as much as Beal does and be handcuffed by the same rule. So again remind me which of My Beal comments has been off base to this point? B/c you haven't gotten there yet. Also did you guys actually think driving to the whole like a man, only to miss at the end of the game is some how a pro? Why doesn't AJ get any love whatsoever for saving that game with perhaps his first put back of the year?

Clark said...

in lieu...

Seamus O'Toole said...

[This comment is for no one but Colin. If you're not him, don't bother reading further unless you're that bored.]

Colin -- First off, the fact that you stand by all the quotes I cited is laughable and completely discredits you. Nonetheless I have some down time so I will respond to your other babbling since you're so intent on having this debate.

Here's the thing: if you're going to waste my time with your bitching then at least do me the courtesy of reading what I write. What follows is just a sampling of the numerous errors in your comments:

(1) In my post I gave AJ love for the tip-in as well as a bunch of other stuff he did against Georgia. So you sound like an idiot trying to say we're not giving him any credit.

(2) I never said that you said Steve and Andre should be shooting threes. If you had actually read my comment, my point was that that was the (obviously absurd) logical conclusion that follows from the premise on which your moronic argument that Beal should never shoot 3s was based. Stop whining about me "grasping at straws" and go back and read. K, thanks pumpkin.

(3) The player you claim "blows" at shooting 3s has made 49% of his 3-point shots in SEC play, with the exception of four "off" games, two of which you conveniently cherry-picked to show the supposedly air-tight quality of your argument despite the fact that in both of the two games you cited, no one else really shot the ball any better. But even if you include those off-games, Dolla's 3-pt% is 41% in conference play. And you're honestly trying to stand by the claim that you don't want him ever shooting from behind the arc? If so, congrats: your ignorance of the game of basketball is undoubtedly confirmed.

(4) We all question Beal's shot selection at times, just like we do with virtually every other player. No one said he's perfect. But that does not detract from the fact that he has been the engine of this team in SEC play, and it certainly does not detract from the game he had against Georgia, where his near-perfect first half, 7/0 A/T ratio, 28 points, three late-game clutch drives to the basket in regulation (on one of which he got hammered and made it anyway left-handed, making your comment above about him driving left and using his right hand just look all the more asinine), and excellent play in overtime (making or creating 13 of the 19 OT points) kept Vanderbilt alive in a game that could have been devastating for SEC and NCAA tournament seeding. Your refusal to acknowledge that as being a great game, matched with the pointless vitriol in your comments to a group of people who are all cheering for the same team, solidifies my lack of respect for your opinion.

(5) It's really comical and convenient that you completely leave out Beal's 7 assists and 0 turnovers when trying to use numbers to tear him down. I am left to assume that you just couldn't figure out a way to make those figures look bad. What a "predicament" you're in!

Oh yeah, while I'm wasting my time with you: do not use the word "retard" on this blog ever again.

Regards,
Seamus