Saturday, December 4, 2010

VSL Gets You Ready: Previewing Vanderbilt vs. Belmont

It's not often that a coach is disappointed with a 20-point blowout of an opposing squad, but that's exactly the way Kevin Stallings felt after Wednesday's win over Western Kentucky. If that's the case, Belmont should start feeling slightly nervous about the Commodores potential. But when the Commodores invite the Bruins to Memorial at 1:00 CST, they should be careful not to underestimate them.

Belmont is a solid team, with it's lone loss coming in a tough road matchup at Tennessee in the NIT season tip-off, where the score didn't quite represent how close the game was. Though they got behind very early, the Bruins ran off a 22-6 run in the last 7 minutes to make it a 1 point game with 36 seconds remaining. Forced to foul, the Bruins were put away by some solid free throw shooting by the Vols, but certainly they are capable of putting a scare in supremely talented teams. Since that game, Belmont has won five in a row, though none of their opponents was a stalwart. This will be the Bruins toughest test since that Tennessee game at the beginning of the season.

Players to hate immediately are Ian Clark, Mitch Hedgepeth, and Scott Saunders. Clark is a 6'3" sophomore guard from Memphis who is averaging 13.7 points and is shooting .419 from three. He had 18 points against Tennessee in the season opener. Mick Hedgepeth is second in scoring, averaging 13.0 points and snagging 6.3 boards per game. He's a 6'9" junior post player and will be banging against Festus, Andre, Stevie Thunder and Goulbourne for boards. Against Tennessee he had 10 points and 5 rebounds. Saunders is a 6'10" junior post player who is averaging 11.8 points and 4.8 boards per game. He had 5 points and 2 rebounds in 15 minutes of play against Tennessee, but also had a monster game against Marist with 24 points and 6 rebound. Belmont has 10 players averaging more than 10 minutes a game, and 9 of them average more than 5 points per game, showing that they have a bit of offensive diversity.

Belmont ranks 30th in the nation in team assist-to-turnover ratio, where Vandy is ranked 79th. They are ranked 9th in turnover margin, where Vandy is ranked 198. They are also ranked 16th in the nation in steals. My point in harping on these statistics is that this is how the Bruins can upset the Commodores. That 22-6 run against the Vols was a product of forcing turnovers with pressure and getting quick buckets to bring them back into the game. It's no secret that Stallings was primarily displeased with turnovers in our last matchup against Western Kentucky. While I believe these concerns will be alleviated as the team finds its offensive identity, they are certainly things to keep in mind as Vandy takes on this scrappy Belmont team, as well as a Missouri team that thrives off forcing turnovers.

The game isn't on ESPN3 or Full Court as the Vandy game notes indicate, but it is on CSS regionally. As a result, I won't be able to watch, but will be following via gametracker. I would love to see how we play in this game, because it will tell us a lot about how we might play against a tough Missouri team next Wednesday.


Douglas James said...

Can anybody watching the game on tv or at memorial tell me what's the problem in the 1st half? We are out rebounding them, shooting ok. They have been fouling a ton. Is belmont playing that good offensively or are we doing something wrong? Any insight would be most appreciated.

Stanimal said...

Yeah, someone who is able to watch please chime in. Looks like we've opened it up. Also seems like Tinsley is playing pretty well.