Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recap: Vandy Falls to Mizzou in OT 85-82

Typically in close games like this, it comes down to rebounding and performance at the free throw line. Coach Stallings feels pretty good about his chances in those situations because of the team's proficiency in both those areas. But on a night where many expected the turnover battle to be the decisive stat, it was the very strength of the team that did the Commodores in.

"[W]e had our chances," Stallings said. "We could have salted the game away with some free throw makes."

While some will be quick to point fingers at Brad Tinsley for a bad pass in overtime and a decision to not call timeout and draw a play up, the truth of the matter is that the game was lost at the line, where Vandy shot just 50%. In last year's contest, Vandy was 26-31 from the line, which lead to a six point victory for the Commodores. 11 of 12 were made by A.J. Ogilvy. While in many ways Fez has alleviated the loss of A.J., and even made us better, the line is not one of them. He has done a remarkable job of improving his performance from the free throw line, but the hack-a-fez defense resulted in a 4 for 10 performance that definitely hurt the Commodores.

One aspect that we have really noted is our improvement in the rebounding department. But Missouri won the rebounding battle 45-40, and perhaps most important, had a staggering 21 offensive rebounds to our 8. The result? Missouri attempted 20 more shots than we did from the field, and even though Vandy did a good job defensively, holding Mizzou to their lowest field goal percentage of the year at 38.3%, they simply let them have too many looks at the basket.

So while Tinsley's final 30 seconds of overtime were killer and not excusable, they are not the reason we lost this game. For the rest of the game, I thought Brad did a great job breaking the press. It's a game like this where you can really see the value in the change-up combination of he and Kyle Fuller. Just when Mizzou was comfortable defending Tinsley up top, Fuller's quickness got their defense off-balance. Vandy was very good at getting to the rim all night long, primarily because of the play of their point guards, as well as a really improved and aggressive performance by Jeffery Taylor. That being said, the spotlight shines in crunch time, and Brad comes away with the unenviable position of "goat" for this one. Regardless, I'll take this goat any day of the week, because he's still a pretty darn valuable player.

Highlights
  • John Jenkins was both automatic and clutch in the first half, scoring 16 of his 23 points before the intermission and shooting a ridiculous 5 of 7 from the field and 4 of 6 from three. He did a solid job of finding the corner on the break and Mizzou had difficulty locating him over there in the first half, which led to several good looks for the sharpshooter. The second half was tougher for John as Mizzou found him consistently and only let him take 5 shots and 2 threes, but any concerns about shooting woes out of Jenkins are clearly overblown.
  • Jeffery Taylor turned it on last night folks. While he was responsible for six turnovers, including three traveling violations, he found his way to the rim consistently and did a great job finishing on his way to 18 points. Not only that, but Jeff was hitting really nice midrange shots that we have been so desperately wanting to see. That shot in the short corner fading away from the basket was a thing of beauty, as was his pull-up jumper on the wing. He also snatched 10 boards and had an AWESOME hustle block to prevent an easy basket.
  • It's truly remarkable how far Festus has come, and that has been pointed out. He had a really solid game and has demonstrated, despite the protestations of Hubert Davis, that he is not simply a defensive juggernaut. Festus has emerged into a difficult to guard offensive threat, and in looking at our fellow SEC teams, the list of guys who match up well with Fez is very short, if even in existence. Would have said Enes Kanter if he were playing, but I'll take Fez against Terrence Jones, even though Jones is a beast.
  • I'd be remiss if I didn't point out Lance's performance as well. It's amazing how far HIS game has come, even though coming out of high school he was one of our most highly touted recruits. Lance put together another solid game with 11 points and 7 boards, and an even more ridiculous hustle block than Jeff at a point where Mizzou really could have taken control of the game. It's hard to believe that we can lose a game where four Commodores score in double-figures. That certainly won't happen often.
Lowlights
  • It's been pointed out, but the defensive rebounding just wasn't there last night. The funny thing is, strictly based on the eye test, it didn't seem like we were being killed on the boards for a lack of effort. Seemed like Mizzou was getting some long rebounds and the ball just bounced there way on several occasions. Regardless, CKS will likely be doing box out drills in practice the next couple of days. When your opponent shoots 20 times more than you, they can overcome even an exceptional defensive effort.
  • If you want to win on the road, you have to make your freebies, period, no ifs ands or buts. Shooting 50% from the line on a night you attempt 22 free throws is a serious problem and will not buy us too many road wins in the SEC. While this was significantly below our team average, this is really the only sample we have of a game where we shot free throws in a truly hostile environment. Let us hope that this is a blip on the radar and not a model of consistency. EVERY player was responsible for that category, not just Fez. Jeffery missed two crucial free throws down the stretch, and Brad missed an important and-1. Fez, however, has to perform better from the line, or we'll definitely see the hack-a-fez defense more often.
  • This team needs Andre Walker back, so this lowlight is to whoever gave him mono. Keep that to yourself! We've got a season going on here! In all seriousness, Walker would have provided a little extra dimension that might have put us over the top. One thing I've noticed is that we don't bring a whole lot of points off the bench with the exception of Lance. Rod has had some really nice games and has demonstrated a very sweet shooting stroke, but we don't have a lot of scoring punch other than the occasional three. Having consistency in scoring is pretty crucial for momentum, so we need to get Andre back and maintain our depth.
Sorry for the longer post, but this was a true "measuring-stick" game for the 'Dores. While there are certainly things we can work on, I feel completely comfortable stating that this team is ahead of where it was last year, even if we beat Mizzou. There is an intensity and a fire that this group has that we seemed to lack. They play defense harder, they hit the boards harder, they give it their all on every single play. I STILL don't think they've hit their full potential yet. They are coming along really nicely right now, however, and we haven't had a moment where the team was "broken" a la last year. Pretty sure that we as Vanderbilt fans are going to have a lot to cheer about come conference play.

7 comments:

Stanimal said...

By the way, I didn't put this in the post,but we have to give Mizzou credit for pulling this win out, and especially Marcus Denmon, who really shined in the face of some personal adversity with the death of his cousin.

Bobby O'Shea said...

I'll echo Stanimal's sentiments from last night and this morning: we did not lose the game because of Brad Tinsely. He threw a bad pass and compounded his mistake by fouling the kid and then taking a bad three to try and tie the game. On the bad 3 front, the blame for that can just as easily be laid at the feet of Kevin Stallings, who had a time out in his back pocket that he chose not to use either with 6.6 seconds left, or after the Commodores successfully brought the ball over mid-court. From solely a player-personnel standpoint, I thought this was a mistake, because Odom was on the bench.

While I also agree that this team needs Andre Walker to get better as soon as possible, I'm not sure he was the difference. Even if he was, his presence would have been felt more on the rebounding front than running the offense. Brad Tinsely was going to have the ball with under 30 seconds to go as the team worked for a final shot regardless of whether Walker was healthy or not.

Anonymous said...

Can you repeat all that.

I missed that middle part.

Jim said...

Stanimal: Never apologize for a long post. As a guy who just played football in high-school and never played organized basketball--I was a big lineman with no hope of shooting a basketball--I really appreciate your insights, man. Keep it up.

Tough loss for the Dores. Good to see where we stand though.

Anonymous said...

And why didn't JJ take that final 3??
Tinsley is extremely inconsistent and is easily intimidated,,, not made for big plays...

Sam

Anonymous said...

i know this team is better than last year and i know they haven't hit full potential. but i take no comfort in this loss. to have a chance to win a game like that on the road is what true champions do and we didn't do it.

great seasons have equaled 4 seeds w/ losses and this one could very well end up the same.

a disappointment. last night shows me that's the road we're heading down again. being a vandy fan is becoming quite depressing.

davidhazen said...

I am a Vandy fan out in Colorado! Vanderbilt was the better team , but you have to have a certain mental toughness to finish a game like that, to get your free throws. You have to want the ball and know you will score.