Thursday, March 25, 2010

VSL Critique of David Boclair's Piece in the Nashville Scene

Thoughts From Bobby O'Shea:

David Boclair, the beat reporter for the Nashville City Paper, has a story in this week's Nashville Scene entitled "Before Vanderbilt fans seek therapy over the early exit at the NCAA tourney, they should take another peek at the bigger picture." Let me say that I think David does a great job covering the Commodores, following in the large footsteps of the Man We Love[d] to Hait. I also think this "glass half full" piece article is throughly unconvincing and an attempt to make Commodore fans feel bad about being disappointed at the way this season ended.

Could things have been worse? Yes. Was it a season filled with many highlights that Commodore fans should relish despite their early exit? Certainly. But none of that detracts from the fact that Vanderbilt fans have every right to be disappointed in how the season ended. Vanderbilt might have made their 3rd NCAA tournament in 4 years, but this was a team that had the potential to take their program to the next step. They had the talent and the balance to make it happen. But they didn't. They folded down the stretch, causing passionate Commodore fans like myself to wonder, "are we always going to be 'same ol' Vanderbilt'"?

Vanderbilt lost 3 of their last 4 games, all to (seemingly) inferior opponents, all games they should have won.

Boclair asks Commodores to "look at the big picture." I would respectful ask that he do the same. Vanderbilt fans should not be content with tournament appearances that more often then not end with first round exits then trips to the Sweet Sixteen. This program should be better than that, and their fans should expect more. That our future is bright, with or without A.J., strikes me as completely besides the point. You dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I would submit that passionate fans are the same: they root for their program to become the one they want, even if they're not quite there yet. The frustration with how this season, is that this team could have been the beginning of a long line of Vanderbilt team's fulfilling the promise their fans see in them. Alas, they didn't. That there are positives to take away from this season does not change the fact that this team failed to meet the reasonable expectations their fan base had for them.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, Vanderbilt fans were not given much indication that times are changing. Anyone got a shrink they could recommend?

Thoughts from Stanimal:

While I agree that the progress of the program can't be ignored, anyone who is satisfied with just making the tournament is a little too jaded by the "same old Vanderbilt" mentality. The fact of the matter is that your basketball program is measured by NCAA tournament success. The regular season is important solely because of the NCAA tournament. This isn't to say that a phenomenal regular season isn't a great thing, or even a conference championship isn't a great thing. But in the end, every program that wants to make its mark has to do it when the whole country is looking. How do you think St. Mary's will be viewed over the next couple of years because of their "arrival"?

As such, despite how great the season was, this loss can't be viewed as anything less than disappointing. Teams like Georgetown and Kansas will not be questioned after this year despite a first round loss because they have history and have "made it". Vanderbilt is not a mid-major Cinderella. It plays in a major conference and can attract top 100 talent. It's "ceiling"
is not defined by larger programs, it is one of those large programs. Any ceiling that one would claim is simply self-imposing it. That is the problem with most Vandy fans and others who look at the program, a tendency to apply a completely fictional ceiling on what it very well could be.

But there's only way to break through that fictional ceiling, and that's to let a deep tournament run and EARN that respect. That's why the season was disappointing, and that's why anyone who is TRULY a Vanderbilt fan should
not be satisfied.

More from Stanimal:
Also, do you think that Stallings or the team is satisfied with a first round exit? Would any program in a high-major conference be remotely satisfied with that? If so, then I would not want that coach to lead my program. Particularly not at a school like ours where basketball is king (and yes, basketball is king at Vanderbilt.)


Chuck Heston said...

Butler up big against 'Cuse. Could have been us. Could have been us.

Tom said...

Chuck, I feel that pain with you.

As to this statement...
>>Vanderbilt fans were not given much indication that times are changing.<<
...I would beg to differ. I've been watching VU bb since the F-Troop days, and I have never seen a team as physically dominant as this one was -- when it clicked. What Ogilvy and the rest of the team achieved in the paint and on the boards was vastly superior to what the team was able to achieve the only other time it had a great inside man in Will Perdue.

Beyond that distinction, the balance of contributions and depth of talent this year represented a quantum leap above anything I have seen before.

The year-end collapse is mighty frustrating, and nobody who saw how good this team could be can take any real solace in the excuse that the guys are predominantly very young. I feel for all of them. And my hopes for the future are realistic.

But the very disappointment Chuck expresses says a lot about how far VU has come. We coulda been a contender. And next year, and the year after, we could be one again.

Always Wanted to Play Piano said...

Cub fan here, so this all feels familiar.

Different topic: I think talk of AJ bolting the NBA is silly. I don't know him, personally, so I don't know where his head is at... but I haven't read anything that suggests NBA scouts consider him a reasonable prospect. I'd be happy to be corrected on this point... but guys, the athleticism isn't there, and there are tons of tall unathletic guys sitting on the end of NBA benches.

That said, I could totally see him heading back to Australia and playing there. Not such a bad life, I would take it.

BP said...

It was interesting in the article to see AJ's year-over-year stats laid out like that. It confirmed my gut instinct, which is that his freshman year was his best year and he's gotten a little bit worse every year since then. Points, rebounds, and blocks have all declined each year.

Anonymous said...

Intereting contrast in the career trajectories of Will Perdue and AJ. Will barely played his freshman year. Yet he improved and improved and improved. While AJ maybe hit his peak as freshman. I stress maybe....I hope we get a big year from AJ next year.