Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bobby's Post-Game Murray State Thoughts

This one hurts. A lot. That Vanderbilt lost at the buzzer to a #13 team is less upsetting then the fact that we allowed the game to be as close as it was. Murray State was a popular upset pick because they won 30 (now 31) games, had offensive balance, and faced a Vanderbilt team that struggled to gain respect all season long. Turns out, the experts were right.

Vanderbilt limped down the stretch and ended the year 3-3 with 3 extremely frustrating losses to South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Murray State. 3 teams, I might add, that Vanderbilt should have been better than. In all 3 games, they weren't. They weren't the hungrier team in any of their 3 losses. They weren't the team that dictated pace. And in the end, they weren't the team that won.

There are several reasons why Vanderbilt lost today. The most glaring is Vanderbilt's inability to hit free throws. 17-29 is 58.6%, the team's 2nd worst shooting performance of the season (shot 51% vs. Arizona, and 58.8% against Mississippi State in the SEC tournament). Jeffery Taylor, a 75.8% free throw shooter on the year, was 3-7; Stevie Thunder was 0-2, as was Festus. This isn't to blame the loss on these 3 players, but 3-11 from your front court isn't a recipe for success.

Murray State deserves a lot of credit. They shot 46.7% from downtown (7-15), had a +6 rebounding edge (including a +5 offensive rebounding advantage), and withstood every charge Vanderbilt threw at them.

Vanderbilt fans love to dump on A.J. I was astonished at the reaction whenever he touched the ball. I've said it before, as frustrating as A.J.'s play can be at times, this team's offense is decidedly more effective when he is a) on the floor, b) getting the ball, c) moving to the basket. He gets to the free throw line, and perhaps more importantly, forces teams to double team when he is getting to the rim.

Beyond the free throw woes, Andre Walker and Jeffery Taylor's play today was tough to watch. Walker was 2-9 for 6 points, grabbed 2 boards, and dished out 6 assists. JT was 3-7, poured in 9, and grabbed 5 rebounds. This is not a great line. Walker taking 9 shots isn't terrible if he's a) hitting them or b) getting to the rim and getting fouled. Unfortunately, he did neither. Taylor was plagued by foul trouble all game, which I'm sure frustrated him, since he was very aggressive in the early going. It's also worth mentioning that all 15 of their points came in the first half.

Mrs. O'Shea made an observation that I think it also worth passing on. Perhaps its coincidental, but Vanderbilt is 3-3 since Brad Tinsely exited the starting line-up. This is not to say that going to Jenkins wasn't the right thing to do. This is not to say that Jermaine shouldn't have been the point guard. It's just what it is. My question, is why? Was Brad more of a "glue" player then we realized? Is it just a coincidence?

There will be a lot of talk as to where we go from here. There is no doubt this game will sting...for a while. I feel especially for Jermaine, who ended his Vanderbilt career in an undeservingly harsh fashion. He went from hitting the go-ahead free-throws to losing his second NCAA tournament game to a #13 seed as a #4.

We'll have more on this game, and I'm sure you'll be hearing from the other VSL contributors. These are just my initial thoughts on the end of a season that, we thought, had a chance to be special. This program is definitely moving forward, if not as fast as we would all have hoped.

I look forward to your comments slamming my observations.

21 comments:

Jordan said...

Agree with most of this. I was at the sweet sixteen game and this feels the same. Same score I might add as well 66-65. I just felt like we didn't have a game changer on this team all year other than beal. But Beal can't be a go to go down the stretch. I disagree completely on your AJ comments. He had two fouls in what four minutes against some guy 6'7. Completely ridiculous. He missed key free throws down the stretch that resulted in us losing by one rather than going to overtime.

What is most upsetting is the lack of passion and desire among the players. They acted like they didn't care all game (other than Beal and Jenkins). Andre Walker is a disgrace. Goulbourne allowed himself to get bumped out of the play with four seconds left resulting in the guy having a free look.

Very difficult to be a Vanderbilt fan. We have so many dissapointments. I feel like we are only good for a big upset now and then--or maybe a 2 game winning streak during NCAAS. Also, who knows if we make it next year. Taylor looks like someone who fades when it matters most. Hope Ogilvy goes to Europe.

Treymour said...

Your comments seem dead on to me. Lack of intensity, lethargic, seemingly at time uninterested play. This is probably the most frustrating Vanderbilt team I have ever watched. Due in large fact that they have more potential than any previous team, yet they for whatever reason (and I have tried to nail down what the reason is.. and I can't)can't seem to keep it together on the floor. AJ disappears for minutes on end in games, and Jermaine never developed that "put the team on my back" attitude that the Dores needed. They need a vocal leader on the floor and a go to guy and in stretches in the SEC tourney and today, it didn't seem like anyone wanted to shoot the ball. We played lackadaisical on defense allowing MSU and then Murray State to just waltz through the lane on dribble drives. Absolutely picked apart on pick and rolls due to very poor decisions and slow defensive rotations. Jeff Taylor spent more time out of position on defense than he did in.. and that is partly on him but you have to lay a lot of that at the feet of Stallings. I don't mean this as a knock on them .. but I have to ask the question to see what everyone thinks. I get the feeling that Taylor has unlimited potential to be tapped, but I get the feeling that he may be one of those guys who just never comes around and gets it. And I have no idea what to say about AJ. Truly the most frustrating player in the history in Vandy basketball to watch. I keep wondering if we are going to find out something this summer about he had some kind of injury going on that we didn't know about. Barring that, he must be on some kind of medication. His reaction time on offense and defense makes it seem like he is drugged on the court.

T-Pain said...

I tend to agree with Jordan. I was worried about whether they could match the emotion of a team like Murray, who had an entire town incredibly psyched that their team even made the tournament. I'm not saying Vandy overlooked Murray, just that they didn't seem to have the same passion and urgency - like they didn't feel like they needed to make every possession count.

Any short sports tournament favors teams that can pull it together at the right time. Vandy can play with any team in the country when they are on their game, but they didn't have the timing. You have to have the talent to take over a game and impose their will on the other team, and you need to have it all come together at the right time.

I don't know if it's a lack of vociferous leadership, or if it's on Stallings for not getting the kids mentally ready. But somebody needed to step up, and it didn't happen today.

Frustrating way to end the year.

Anonymous said...

Well said "T-Pain." Couldn't agree with you more. Also, I enjoyed reading your comments and envisioning your charming synthesized voice.

Who knew T-Pain was a 'Dores fan? That eases the sting of the loss in my book.

Chuck Heston said...

Back in Oct., I remember picking up Athlon's college basketball preview magazine, and being so psyched when I saw Vandy was ranked #16. The 1st Round of the Maui Invitational should have warned me that this team would exhibit a lack of intensity at the wrong times. There were highlights, yes, like beating TN at Knoxville and holding onto victory at the O-Dome for the 1st time in who can remember. There was always that lingering lack of intensity, however.

Really too sad to write much now.

Bye.

Anonymous said...

mrs. oshea if not BEAL then who? 3-3 without BT, What are they without BEAL?

Anonymous said...

oh is this bobby or the mrs getting slammed

VandyGold28 said...

why am i still a vandy fan....

Anonymous said...

You've got to quit defending AJ. There is a reason people dump on him. Yes, the offense is far more efficient when AJ gets touches. Problem is, AJ is weak with the ball, lethargic moving in the post, and defensively uncoordinated and undisciplined in his movement. Bottom line, we need a big that can do what the media and you think he can do, but we don't have that big.

In any case, he was only 1 of 8 problems today. The remaining 7 were the rest of Dores that got significant time.

I'm a college bball fanatic and a Vandy fanatic, that is why I'm so angry with this one. I was hugely disappointed today.

Vandy-Montana said...

Thank goodness Montana is still in the tournament...for the next few hours.

DorePosts said...

Brutal, just brutal. I had given up with about 10 to play. They brought me back, just to put the dagger back in.

Harold Stirling said...

I agree with T-Pain and Jordan. This team seems to play without intensity and passion when it matters most. They seem to take it for granted that opponents will just crumble at their feet. I think the players forgot that for Mississippi State and Murray WE were the team to beat and THEY were motivated to beat us. While it's great to be a team that can upset stronger opponents, if you do that too often, sooner or later you become the upset target. These teams were motivated to beat us because we were the target and our players just couldn't have been bothered.

This loss was heartwrenching. Maybe I'm just a sappy believer in Vandy, but I thought this team could really go someplace. Now I just feel like they had the wrong attitude - a sense of entitlement.

Anonymous said...

We still have bowling and football is right around the corner...

Actually, the baseball team is great!

Stanimal said...

I'll post something later. I'm still far too upset for words.

By the way, I'd like to apologize for my profanity in the live blog. My emotions got the best of me.

Anonymous said...

There always bowling and spring football practice is cranking up...

Bob Loblaw said...

I'm starting to wonder if Stallings is a poor tournament coach, or if it's just the team that couldn't get their act together. This is the second time in a row in the NCAAs that Vandy just didn't come to play, and the same could be said for the Maui Invitational this year and the SEC Tournament.

Stallings has done very good things with this team during the regular season, but it almost seems like the guys are ready to hang it up come the post season. Please excoriate me if you disagree.

Steven said...

Terrible loss. Really tough to swallow after all the talent and promise this team showed.
It's hard to pin the blame on anyone for what happened yesterday. It was a whole-team effort. I thought Walker and Taylor had the worst performances. Despite his foul trouble, I thought AJ played really well when he was on the court, and I don't think he deserves to get knocked the way he has been. Beal's 2 FTs at the end were huge--we just didn't get enough from him earlier in the game. Agree with everyone who said it is a sad way for him to go out. He had a great career with the Commodores.
As far as next year, it seems to me that the returning player with the most potential to truly lead this team is Jenkins. He has that fire to win, and stepped up in a big way over our rough last stretch of games. He just needs to improve on defense and getting to the rim. I feel really good about Brad running the point next year, as he also played well to close out the year. In my opinion, Taylor is often more frustrating than Ogilvy because he is more talented and almost equally inconsistent. If only he could put it together, he could be like a Derrick Byars, or better. Ogilvy doesn't seem to be capable of being "the man" for this team, but he is still a critical piece, and I would strongly challenge the assertion that Vandy would be better off with him playing in Europe next year.
I think we'll be back in the tournament next year. If Fuller can grow quickly to provide some guard depth, I think next year's team will be no less capable than this year's team, and hopefully able to put together another strong season with a better ending.

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

Ogilvy is ranked #6 in the nation for fouls drawn per 40 minutes, according to Ken Pomeroy. He is #2 beyond Demarcus Cousins if you look at the major conferences. That is remarkable.

Keep feeding him the ball next year and have him attack the rim. You'll have JJ as a kick out option and JT/AW to clean up loose balls.

This team will be very good next year and ready for another run.

In CKS I trust.

Anonymous said...

Well there's no doubt who will be the point gaurd next year. Starting with the UT game at Knoxville Beal became a shooting guard, but ironically didn't take many shots versus Murray. They will be a good team next season with some good added freshman. I look forward to that.

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