Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stanimal's Post-Game Thoughts on Florida

The Commodores continue to grind huge wins out on the road against good teams. The best part of tonight: they did it when things were blatantly against them. The Commodores endured some very bad officiating to gut out this one.

I am normally not one to complain about officiating, but tonight it was absolutely ridiculous. 16 fouls against us to 10 on their behalf. That number may not seem disparate at the outset, but if you watched the game, it was pretty obvious how one-sided and inconsistent the officiating was. From Vernon Macklin's idiotic attempt at a dunk when Steve T. was in position to take a charge (in which Macklin was bailed out by a horrendous blocking call), to the multitude of pushes and shoves A.J. had to endure underneath, the foul calling was absolute horrendous. I would say that it was the worst officiating of the entire season, and I think based on Kevin Stallings halftime comments, he would agree.

If you take the officiating out of the equation, it was a case of the Dores playing extremely well for the first 15 minutes of the game, and disappearing after that. Jermaine Beal, whom VSL IS NOT KNOCKING, struggled in the second half, though his only free throws of the game were absolutely clutch. Beal had 6 assists, but had 4 turnovers, though two of them were because of pesky Erving Walker (I HATE IT WHEN PLAYERS DO THAT). Still, he was 4-12 from the field, and had a couple of drives and decisions that were questionable.

As I said, it wasn't all on Dolla. Jeffery Taylor was absent due to foul trouble. Sometimes it just seems like the refs catch everything you do, and while I considered a couple of the fouls to be "ticky-tack", they certainly were good enough to get Jeffery out of the game immediately. Tinsley's shooting slump continued, though he seemed to be making smart decisions passing the ball, and demonstrated his value spelling Dolla running the point. But enough about bad performances....

A.J. Ogilvy played with a fire that every Commodore fan has been dying to see tonight. He made great plays, played solid defense (with the exception of a few lapses), and grabbed some nice boards. Andre Walker had a solid stat-line with 7 points, 8 boards, 2 assists and a block. Steve T. continues to demonstrate his upside. He finds position very well, and he is starting to demonstrate some natural ability in the post to finish. Which brings me to John Jenkins.

John Jenkins was absolutely phenomenal , and there was a zero percent chance of winning without him. I made this comment in the live blog, but putting Jenkins in the starting lineup gives this team an offensive boost down the stretch that makes them VERY dangerous. With more minutes came more opportunities to shoot, and Jenkins made the most of them, going 6 of 9 from the three. His two threes down the stretch with 5 minutes to go were beyond clutch. What a tremendous performance out of the freshman, who becomes yet another player that can put this team on his back when it counts.

And perhaps that's the most noticeable aspect of this Vanderbilt squad: In a game where some of our primary players struggled, yet another player could step up and put this team on their back. A 5 point deficit with 5 minutes to go was a death knoll for prior Vanderbilt squads, and, too, for Florida's last 19 opponents who they led at 5 minutes. But this ain't your Daddy's Dores, and that #1 recruiting class that Donovan landed with his two national championships could not hang onto a lead against this team. By placing the Gators at 19-1 when leading under 5 minutes, the Commodores completed their SEC road schedule at 6-2, and took a huge huge step towards getting a 3 seed in the tournament.

Perhaps the only intelligent thing from Jimmy D and Brad Nessler that was said all evening, and certainly the only pro-Vanderbilt comment: How prepared is this team to play on a neutral court? Given Vanderbilt's performance on the road this year, the answer is very, very prepared.


AD said...

Thanks for the wrap-up. I couldn't watch the game or follow the live blog, but this post and the open-thread comments give me a decent idea of how things went. I'm excited about this win.

I note your point about the essential role Jenkins played tonight. I caught in the pregame that Vanderbilt was going to come out with the same starting five as the last game, with Tinsley on the bench and Jenkins in. Is that what happened? More importantly, do you guys think that's the best way to go forward for this team? And related, do you think CKS is going to go that way through the SEC and NCAA tournaments (barring unforeseen incident, of course)?

Great coverage tonight.

Stanimal said...

I have zero doubt that Jenkins will remain in the starting lineup, and given the way the guy played not only out of the gate, but down the stretch, I have no doubt that's the best way to go. Jenkins is no longer the nice cushion off the bench, he is an incredibly dangerous starting 2. I am not knocking Tinsley in any way, but Jenkins confidence and fearlessness when he's shooting is uncanny. Perhaps most notable is how quickly he is shooting the ball. The way he presses defenses is such a huge asset. It really helps us out when Taylor has an off game, as he did tonight.

The better question is who do you have to shut down to beat this team? It's not Ogilvy, because Beal and Jenkins can kill you from the perimeter, coupled with Taylor's ability to get to the bucket. It's not Taylor either, because those Ogilvy, Beal, and Jenkins can pick up the slack.

I'm convinced that the only way to beat us is to shut all of us down, otherwise, there's too many weapons to guard.

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys! I work with a Florida grad and can't wait to ask him if he watch the game.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else worried about the volatility of Tchiengang? Every time he gets called he throws a fit...he seems to be the only undisciplined VU player out there in that regard. I'm waiting for the moment he gets T-ed up in a big moment and puts us up a creek.

Otherwise, terrible officiating tonight, and while AJ looked good at times, he also looked sluggish and not aggressive at times. But this is a different Vandy team, and we find ways to win when teams of the past have found ways to lose.

macpfled said...

Chaingang UNDISCPLINED! He does talk to the ref, and I don't know for sure but the way he smiles after plays and the body language of the refs when he is talking to them gives me the impression he is totally under control. He commits a lot of stupid fouls but to say he is volatile is ridiculous. For a guy that plays less than 20 a game, I think he is turning into a Walker type glue player. He seems to get buckets when we can't do anything offensively, get tons of rebounds, and just generally intimidate other teams with his physical play. THe reason we won tonight was because him and AJ got 10 rebounds/loose balls that Vandy does not normally get. (chaingangs rebound where he tipped it to himself off the backboard at the end is my play of the game)

And if you think AJ looked sluggish tonight you have clearly not been watching him for 3 years like i have. even with the one obvious missed block out in the first half, and a couple silly turnovers that was the best game of his career.

If I were going to question anybodys "head" it would be Taylors. He seems dejected and slow when things aren't going his way. But when he turns it on, he is the most confident player on the team. Wish we could get him to keep his head up for 40 min/game. If that happens, AJ plays as hard as he did tonight, and we shoot 35-40% from three I would go out to say we won't get beat. Period.

On another note, where was lance? If darshawn replaces him in the rotation i will be furious. The guy is just out of control and sloppy.

Aaron Novick said...

Lance was injured, I believe.

Stanimal said...

Lance has been walking around in a boot. Stallings is trying to keep him out until the SEC Tournament, where we will need him the most.

Anonymous said...

Nice recap. I'm worried that Tinsley can't buy a shot and that Beal keeps forcing things.

I mean, they just went to Florida and won, so not a ton to complain about. Going to be a fun month.

Now if I can only scalp SEC tickets.

Anonymous said...

Best way to beat us is to let Beal drive left. Does anybody else get the feeling that if Jenkins can develop a runner he could do a mean Stephen Curry impression in a year or so? Also where do we chip in to buy AJ one of those heavy balls the UF guy uses?

Chuck Heston said...

I say "Yes" to AJ using the heavy ball, not so much because it will improve his performance around the rim, but because ESPN analysts during the game and in the SC highlights will talk about it incessently.

Enjoy this folks. 6-7 down the stretch doesn't come around every season. These are the halcyon days of the Men's BB program . . . and they're not over.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Definitely some things not to like about that game, especially in the Beal/Taylor category. But if those two guys can screw their heads on for the SEC Tournament, this team is lethal. Actually if all 6 starters (because at this point I think that's exactly what we have and I love it) can play to their ability and play defense the way we did against UT in Memorial, I venture to agree with the commenter who said we don't get beat, period. (Maybe by Syracuse.)

I have to give Stallings some credit here -- Jenkins basically has a full season under his belt, he is no longer a freshman, the training wheels are off. Our starting lineup starts to look more deadly with a true 2 guard who can fill it up and take pressure off of other people (read Beal) to score from outside. I cannot think of a better off-the-bench point guard than Tinsley, and having guard depth in the NCAA tourney is, as we all know, crucial. Six starters with two beasts (T-bone and Festivus) plus a serviceable swing (Lance) coming off the bench. Run DMC putting in a few minutes here and there. That's 10 deep, people. Beat South Carolina and we potentially leapfrog Butler and the loser of the WVU-Nova game to end the regular season in the AP Top 10/11? Long shot but possible. Would mean nothing but would feel good and possibly lock up that 3 seed.

Bobby O'Shea said...

I'm going to echo Seamus' comments about the job CKS has done managing his personnel.

I think he brought Jenkins along at a methodical pace (some times too methodical), but in the end, it's paying divendeds. He is not a freshman anymore. Nor was he thrown into the deep end before he was ready. His stomach injury set him back a few games, and I think it's possible that CKS would have made the line-up change sooner had The Stroke (I guess we're going with that now) not missed 2 games in early February.

We now have an incredibly dynamic offense with a legitimate 2 guard starting, a very good point guard coming off the bench, and depth that really goes 10 deep.

Vanderbilt is very deserving of a 3 seed (especially if they win at home and end the year 13-3). 2 mores wins should solidify that.

For my money, the team's who we can jump are Purdue and New Mexico. If either of those teams lose early in their conference tournaments, and Vanderbilt can win at least 1 game, it is not outside the realm of possibility that this team is a 2 seed. A berth in the SEC Tournament finals would force the committee to take a long look at the Commodores resume.

Anonymous said...

How epic would a Vandy-Kentucky rematch in the SEC Championship game be?? Not only do I think we'd have the willpower and talent to win it (bonus since it's in Nashville), but also I cannot tell you how much I'd love to see Cousins crying at the heels of CKS and Dolla..

Vandy-Montana said...

That would be awesome, but I guarentee there will be many more UK fans at the Bridgestone Arena (I think that what Sommet is now) than Vandy fans. I'd classify as Neutral-Away...

That has always been my experience at SEC tournaments. The great thing about the tornado tournament two years ago was UK didn't even get to watch their team play.

Alex said...

That was a gutsy win, even though we made it that way by letting them back into the game. The one thing that continues to worry me is rebounding. We've harped on it all year and AJ actually looked really strong for the first six minutes, but whenever a post player gets physical with him he forgets to box out or fight for boards. Festus isn't a whole lot better at the rate he has been picking up fouls. Dolla and Jenkins bailed us out tonight which was great to see. Jeff needs to watch himself with those stupid ticky tack fouls after a possession is over. I think/hope Tinsley will get into a bit of a rhythm to finish the season, which would help us immensely. In terms of Steve T, he does play with a lot of emotion, but to his credit the calls last night were ridiculous. After that atrocious blocking call I saw Jenkins pulling Steve away from the ref, great heads up thinking by a freshman to save us from a possible T. I'd throw two more points on his stat sheet just for that move, so there's 20 on the night.

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