Thursday, November 18, 2010

Commodores Overcome a Rough Start: Beat the Huskers 59-49

It was far from pretty, but the Commodores gutted out a win in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, beating Nebraska 59-49. Below were my 3 lowlights and 3 highlights of the game.


Lowlights

1. Taylor's 2nd Half Disappearance

Taylor only had 4 second half points after scoring 10 in the first half. His first field goal attempt came at the 12:59 mark. That's seven minutes where our best player did not attempt a shot. Furthermore, Taylor's only points that weren't from the free throw line came when the game was out of reach on a fast break dunk. He did a good job of getting to the bucket, but it still appears that he has trouble finishing on contact. Taylor still seems hesitant to take control of the game, and I tell ya, it's frustrating to see. We must do more to get him looks in space and Taylor has to finish a lot stronger. But all that is moot unless Taylor has a Derrick Byars-esque "I cannot be stopped" moment.

2. We Were Dominated in the Post

I said in our keys to a successful season that Festus and Steve T. must stay out of foul trouble and be able to supplement the offense with put-backs and good post play. In the end, this game was close because 1) we allowed too many second chance points and 2) Fez struggled offensively against guys of similar size. It's hard to argue at this point that Steve T. is not the more polished offensive player. Comparing their lines, Fez was 0-4 from the field, and though he had 3 offensive boards out of his five rebounds, he couldn't get the put backs we needed. Not to say that Steve T. did that much better since three of his five points came from a huge 3-pointer that really put the game out of reach, but Fez simply doesn't look comfortable offensively against bigger players. Maybe that will change over the course of the season, but I would have to say that we need to give the reigns to Steve T. He was 2 of 4 from the field including the three, but was the leading rebounder with 8 and had 4 blocks. Whether it was Ezeli's foul trouble that led to his playing only 13 minutes or it was Steve T.'s comfort that led to him play 25, it's obvious that Steve T. needs to get the start tomorrow against West Virginia. We had only three players score in the first half: Taylor, Jenkins, and Walker. That simply cannot happen for us to be successful. One final point: we have to start FINISHING at the rim. We had a lot of really good looks that we simply didn't capitalize on.

3. We Let Our Opponents Dictate the Pace of the Game

There aren't many teams that we're going to play where we are significantly more athletic than our opponents. Where we have the athletic advantage, we've got to get out and run the floor more effectively. Nebraska's whole game plan required slowing the pace of the game down and keeping the point totals low. If it weren't for their offensive ineptitude, we may have very well lost this game. While we may want to do something similar against a team like Kentucky, we need to be able to control the flow of the game in our own right, because too often we react to what the other team is doing rather than taking control and running the show.

Highlights

1. John Jenkins When He Gets Hot

It was asked who needed to provide a spark for us to win that game. While I would have preferred the answer to be Taylor, John Jenkins can really make an impact with his shooting ability. Jenkins has been battling a bit of a cold streak from the perimeter, but he hit some clutch jumpers and a huge three to shift the momentum of the game. The streaky nature of his shooting is somewhat of a concern, but Nebraska had him blanketed much of the game. Jenkins, game in and game out, may be our most consistent offensive weapon, and he simply has to get more shots throughout the course of the game than he had until the last few minutes.

2. Brad Tinsley Continued to Run the Point Efficiently

While Brad struggled shooting from three, he had another effective game running the point, scoring 7, grabbing six boards and getting 5 assists with 2 turnovers. He also had 2 steals and a block. My concerns with Brad at the point get less and less the more I watch him play. He is not a tremendous athlete, but he's a heady player who finds his way around the ball and has great court vision. The only real errant pass he threw was the long bomb to Goulbourne that was over his head. Other than that, Tinsley played an efficient game, exactly what we need out of our point guard.

3. Gutting Out the Win

Vanderbilt didn't find it's rhythm arguably until the final five minutes of the game, and they still came out and won. This team has a great deal of experience and certainly knows how to take a punch. They could have easily folded, but they kept after it and gutted the win out. Now they get a chance to prove that this performance was just first-game jitters against a good West Virginia team. Make no mistake, a loss here would have been very damaging to their NCAA tournament resume.

What were y'alls thoughts on the game?

6 comments:

Stanimal said...

One supplemental point. Taylor's outside shooting definitely looked better and more fluid. Those were two very nice threes that Jeffery put in.

busey said...

I agree with everything stanimal said. one more lowlight though: coaching adjustments. Nebraska is a terrible match up for us with all of their size, but they are weak on the perimeter. I understand what stallings wanted to do. Get up and guard on the wings and make entry passes difficult. This didn't work at all, leading to high post entries and back door lay ups. Although it improved in the second half this strategy was not as effective as, say, sagging on the wings and digging/doubling the post. make this team beat you from the outside. the zone was moderately effective, but a loose man may have looked even better. all in all a gritty win against a big, disciplined opponent (and a cover).

macpfled said...

I have been looking forward to watching a Vandy team without AJ and shooter McBeal (great player, but I feel like him and Tinsley just didn't work on offense) for 6 months and I couldn't imagine a more painful 30 minutes. How did we manage to move the ball so well on offense with HORRENDOUS production. I thought we were going to be fortunate to hit 50 in that game. Seemed constantly stymied by an offensive foul, missed layup, missed pass...Very stange offensive game. Feels like we could have put up 75 if a few things went differently. Looking forward to not playing 25 games against teams like that...hats off to Nebraskas coach for turning a bunch of mediocre players into a pretty good team.

Anonymous said...

Lowlight 4: Taylor's horrific free throw shooting.

Jim said...

Johnny Cash is my boy. My boy. That's all I got to say.

Bob Loblaw said...

My four cents:

1. Festus might never develop into a reliable post player. He's got rocks for hands. He's got the frame for it and the athleticism, but put the ball in his hands and all hell breaks loose. Also, fouls.

2. Tchiengang might have to be the guy at the 5 from now on if only because he can score down there. He's not gonna move everyone around by himself and has to get inside position without the ball, but if he does that, he can score probably 70% of the time.

3. Tinsley needs more PT. The offense runs much better with him at the point, and he's going to need to be on the floor for a minimum of 30 - 35 minutes per game. When he wasn't setting up the offense, the rest of the team struggled.

4. I liked what I saw defensively yesterday, but people seem to get caught ball-watching on the weak side which led to probably 10 points on backside cuts or open shots on the weak side. If you're gonna play man, or even a 2-3 zone, you gotta keep your eyes on the other player.

There were some good things to take away from that game, mainly that the Dores know how to win when they're taken out of their game, but they never should've been in that position to begin with. WVU will be another challenge altogether, one that I'm not quite as confident in.