Wednesday, December 8, 2010

VSL Gets You Ready: Previewing Vanderbilt vs. Missouri

The Commodores face their toughest match-up of the year tonight when they take on the Missouri Tigers at the Zou (which is an awesome nickname for their arena, by the way). The game is at 9/8 CST and will be shown on ESPNU.

Vanderbilt has a chance to really make a statement if they can pull out a win in a difficult road match-up. However, that will be easier said than done, as Mizzou is capable of exploiting Vanderbilt's greatest weakness. Mizzou loves to run a fast-paced, full court press and force teams into mistakes with a lot of pressure. From the traditional statistical point of view, Vanderbilt is averaging 16 turnovers per game, good for 252nd in the nation. This does not bode well against a Missouri team that averages 10.7 steals a game and wins the turnover margin by an average of 6 a game.

That being said, the same was true of last year's match-up, and Vandy came away with a 6 point win at home. Vandy committed 24 turnovers in that game, but overcame that deficit with a solid performance from the free throw line and solid defense that kept Mizzou's field goal percentage down. They also significantly won the rebounding battle 45-24, including 14 rebounds in that game. It's worthy of note that Festus did not play in that game last year. Andre Walker and Jeffery Taylor were huge, however, as Jeff had a double-double and Walker had 12 rebounds.

The real linchpin in this game is how Festus will handle the post duties and fill in for A.J Ogilvy. To this point in the year, looking at the numbers, it isn't difficult to argue that the team is operating better with Fez in the post than Ogilvy. According to, our offensive rebounding percentage is vastly improved (basically a calculation of the number of second chances we get), and perhaps MORE importantly our offensive rebounding percentage allowed (the number of second chances we give our opponents), is ALSO vastly improved. When I say vastly, I mean that we are well over the D-I average in both categories, and more than 5 percentage points per game higher than last year's squad. The basic point? This team controls the boards better than last year's squad, and it's because of Festus who ranks SECOND IN THE NATION in Offensive Rebounding % as a player.

In order to win this game, Vandy has to try to limit turnovers, but more importantly, Vandy has to control the glass, get second chance looks, shoot well from the perimeter and the inside, and get to the line. More especially, Vandy has to do their best to slow down Mizzou's pace offensively. The more this is a half-court game, the better the result will be for the 'Dores.

Missouri is not a large team, and they are not great defensively except for their Turnover %. They do a good job of forcing turnovers and blocking shots, but they will allow points from the perimeter in a half-court offense. That being said, they are a solid offensive squad, and they have a great deal of balance. Players to hate immediately are Ricardo Ratliffe, Marcus Denmon, Laurence Bowers, Michael Dixon, and Kim English. All five are averaging double figures in points, with Denmon leading the way with 16.4 ppg. He's a junior guard who is deadly from three point range and from the free throw line. Dixon is the facilitator and averages almost three steals a game. English, who scored 24 against Vandy last year, has not had as much success shooting the three this year, but he is still a player to be aware of.

VSL will be live-blogging the game, and yours truly, as well as Bobby O'Shea will be in attendance. Get ready Vandy fans, because this should be a real good one.

1 comment:

AD said...

Seems like the team has started slow in many of its games this year. A quick start on the road against a fast-paced team would appear to be very important.