Monday, March 22, 2010

93 Hours Later......Still in Pain

This must be what it's like when a chick who really wants to get married gets dumped by her boyfriend out of the blue. I spent the past few days eating my comfort food (lots of cheeseburgers) and trying to forget what happened Thursday afternoon. I know this has been a great tournament but I can't stand watching college basketball for more than 10-15 second bursts. Basically I can't watch ESPN, which anyone who knows me makes up 75% of my viewing habits.

But you know what, its time to move on. Its not healthy to sit in our pajama's, crying, eating ice cream and watching Lifetime movies or whatever it is someone who just got dumped watches. Lets talk about next years team (in as positive a light as I can spin it).

1. We are bringing in a very solid freshman class. Kyle Fuller looks like the real deal as a point guard. Josh Henderson is raw but talented and with all the size this team has coming back won't be asked to do too much. And Rod Odom will be able to learn at the feet of Jeff Taylor, Andre Walker and Lance Gouldbourne.

2. The development of Andre as someone who can bring up the ball takes the pressure off of Brad and Kyle.

3. There are several Commodores who I think are primed to take a huge step forward next year. Jeff, Lance, Festus and Jenkins are all going to have increased roles next year. Jeff becomes the lead scorer, Lance becomes a veteran presence, Festus will probably be starting (the rumors on which always seem to be true are that AJ will test the professional waters this year. If this happens it will be devastating but maybe something that allows the team to move on and really become the Jeff and John show. Hey I'm trying to be positive).

4. Well the guys returning have to be motivated right? I mean that was basically an embarrassing way to end the season, especially one with so much promise. Not that the guys weren't motivated before but maybe this gives them the focus to get that killer instinct that seemed to be lacking for most of the year.

After a loss like this its easy to become pessimistic. Anyone who has a Rivals account can just go to the War Room and see a million posts about what went wrong with this team. There are comments about lack of chemistry, problems in the locker room...etc, etc, etc. Whatever, these might be true but that's something for CKS and his staff to address. The truth is that no one outside of the team really know what the inner dynamic is. As fans all we can do is look at what we have coming back, which is a lot even without AJ. If this sounds like me trying to convince myself well maybe that's true but I need to move on. Reliving Thursdays game isn't helping anyone.


Stanimal said...

Thanks for taking some initiative here Douglas.

I think there are almost as many positives as there are negatives with this team next year. I will say that the biggest detraction, in my mind, is losing A.J. Our scoring in my opinion will be less balanced without A.J. in the post, and it will become very guard reliant. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, it will require our front court to contribute in a BIG way on the boards and on defense. We cannot allow offensive rebounds next year given our size, otherwise we'll be in a lot of trouble.

Jeff and John are going to be crucial cogs in our offense next season, and big Fez will need to gain an extreme comfort level in being an everyday center. He also must work on his footwork, because we cannot afford to turn the ball over simply because we dish the ball into the post.

We still have great young talent, and next year we will have one of the more veteran teams in the SEC. I think we developed a tremendous base with our talent this year. Now let's see it get to the next level.

Anonymous said...


Andrew Smith said...

Given the man-for-man talent on this team, I think it underachieved by quite a lot, and I think the coaches and staff are largely responsible (regardless of the coach of the year award). If we are to move this program to the next level, they need to improve in several major areas.

1. Motivation: People here have frequently noted that our players often look dejected and rarely look elated. I'm not arguing CKS is a mean guy. He's obviously just the opposite. Hell, the man paid for a team trip to Australia. But being a Good Man and being the sort of man who inspires joy are two very different things. And CKS does not seem to be the second sort of man, which is disastrous for two reasons.

First, it weighs heavily against your recruiting. These kids are not so dumb that they can't distinguish joyous environments from sullen ones. Second, making the most of God-given talent requires an enormous amount of work from the kids. The only way they will put in that work is if they have incredible motivation.

2. Conditioning and Development: One of the biggest reasons to go to a major school in a major conference (rather than be a star at a lesser school) is that such places have world-class training talent. These trainers, supposedly, will study each individual athlete and devise the perfect combination of nutrition and exercise for maximum development.

Given that college athletes enter as boys and leave, four years later, as men, you'd expect such a cadre of trainers to pretty consistently help athletes to make incredible gains in strength, power, quickness, coordination, stamina and nearly every other physical area. But that never, ever seems to happen at Vandy.

3. Defensive rebounding: It's probably the single most important aspect of the game and the surest sign of a coaching staff's quality -- because it requires no special skills and no luck. It's just a matter of teaching kids to do a few fundamentals correctly, every single time the other team hoists up a shot.

Vandy teams throughout the CKS era have struggled here and the excuse has always been that they simply lacked the size and athleticism that other SEC teams had. That excuse never really held water, and it certainly didn't this year. We should have absolutely dominated the boards.

4. Player Development: A lot of people here complain that AJ really hasn't improved, which is perfectly true. But AJ isn't the only person responsible for his own development. There's a whole coaching staff that is supposed to be helping him develop new skills (and physical ability).

They haven't done that -- with AJ or almost anyone else.

Some of you will doubtless counter by pointing at Beal, but almost all of his improvement can be summed up in two words -- jump shot. I'm not sure he actually progressed much in other areas of his game. His driving looks better because defenders now must respect his shot. His passing hasn't improved much, nor has his defense.

How many players other have ever really blossomed under CKS? Foster, certainly, but I can't go much beyond that. If you look at this year's team, Tinsley seemed to regress. Taylor took more shots, but I'm not sure he was better. He became much less effective as the year wore on and opponents backed off and dared him to shoot. Jenkins progressed, but I'd bet he'd have progressed more under Kentucky's staff.

And player development is a problem, not just for winning now but also recruiting. If you have players like AJ, who seem to have sure-thing NBA talent as freshmen, and they don't end up going to the NBA, then it makes it far less likely that other HS kids with serious talent will entrust that talent to CKS and staff.

Is all this to say that I think CKS is a bad coach? God no. He's easily the best coach I've ever seen at Vandy, but he needs to push himself and his staff to improve.

Anonymous said...

What were the comments about locker room disputes?

Anonymous said...

What were the comments about locker room disputes?

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me with legitimacy how/why they know that AJ will be leaving Vandy? And if so, when will we know for sure?

Douglas James said...

Don't know if it is true or not just saying that the rumors are rampant. I think the team is much better with AJ and I hope he comes back but I'm preparing for him leaving.

VandyGold28 said...

I hope he comes back and really think he will. If he tests the NBA waters he still may not get drafted. Most boards don't have him any where even in the 2nd round. He could work out well and end up moving up the charts but I think Ogilvy is way to soft. If he can't muscle his way to easy buckets in the SEC he won't in the NBA either. Now if it said he was testing some Aussie pro ball waters I'd believe that but I think it's better for him if he stays and tries to up his NBA stock. A senior year for him could be big with all the talent coming back on this team. A deep run in the NCAAs next year could really up his draft stock.

Douglas James said...

The rumors are that if he doesn't get drafted he will go play in Europe or Australia. Who knows.

Anonymous said...

Word on Vanderbilt's campus is that AJ declared for the NBA Draft as of today...