Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2011-2012 Vanderbilt Basketball: Let the Expectations Begin

The Commodores took the first step towards a possible dream season with the official announcement that Jeff Taylor, John Jenkins, and Festus Ezeli would all be returning next year.

There have been numerous "way too early" top 25s released since the tournament's end. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com has the 'Dores at #5. Jeff Goodman of Foxsports.com has them at #8. Luke Winn of SI is less fond of our squad, placing them at #17. ESPN has had several rankings, but I'm too lazy to post them all. There are few who place the 'Dores outside of the top 20, and even fewer who don't rank them at all, which is a first for this particular group of players in the preseason.

I admittedly missed the mark by saying that the 2008-2009 'Dores were "the team" to take us to the next level. In all fairness, they looked like they could do it before they ran out of gas down the stretch, culminating in a disappointing loss to Murray State. I'm going back out on a limb, albeit a larger and more comfortable one, by saying this squad is the one that will satiate our desire to gain national prominence. We are a senior-laden and experienced squad with our top 3 scorers returning. We have a greater degree of depth and flexibility thanks to the additions of Kedren Johnson and Dai-Jon Parker. Simply put, this is THE group to take us to the promised land.

11 comments:

Charles said...

Let the road to the final four begin baby! That is such great news to hear! GO DORES!

Anonymous said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CAR said...

Expectations for me could not be higher. Unreal that Doron Lamb returning is a news item on ESPN and our big three returning are not. We have a very legitimate chance to have three first round draft picks next year. I predict we are pre-season #10.

We have everyone returning from this team who played meaningful minutes (except Walker), we get Siakam and Henderson off of redshirt and Parker, Johnson and Moats coming in as Freshman (three top 100 prospects).

We will be one of the most experienced teams in the nation next year with two players having started every game for three years, 1 player starting every game for 2 years and 2 players starting every game for 1 year (the latter will be seniors as well).

The question, however, is whether or not these guys are going to learn how to finish games and not choke. Also, how will they play come March?

Sometimes when you are a senior, it just clicks (see Byars, Friejie, and Foster)

The lineup next year will look something like this:

Starting 5:
Tinsley PG (Sr.)
Jenkins SG (Jr.)
Taylor SF (Sr.)
Goulbourne PF (Sr.)
Ezeli C (Sr.)

Next 6 (in my projected order off the bench):
Odom SF (So.)
Tchiengang C (Sr.)
Fuller PG (So.)
Parker SF (Fr.)
Henderson C (R/S Fr.)
Johnson PG (Fr.)

I don’t know how Siakam or Moats crack the rotation.

Is it possible for us even to play 11 people? I have to believe that playing time will be tough for Johnson and maybe Parker. Parker is supposedly an absurd defender, so he has a better chance of playing I would think. Henderson has apparently been developing well and SHOULD give us a legitimate Center off of the bench (he is 6’11)

Hot Rod Odom, Stevie Thunder, and Fuller will need to improve or seriously risk losing their spots.

Stanimal said...

CAR, the answer to your question about how we play 11 guys revolves around using each of their strengths.

Vanderbilt has the opportunity to play situational basketball that, I would argue, it has never had before. Their starting five is balanced offensively and defensively with Tinsley, Jenkins, Taylor, Goulbourne and Ezeli. When we need to play lock-down defense, the addition of Parker cannot be understated. He is well-known as one of the elite freshman defenders in this class, having shut down #1 prospect Austin Rivers not once, but twice. When we need defensive stops, a lineup of Fuller, Parker, Taylor, Goulbourne and Ezeli should be able to match-up with any offensive attack in the country. We also have tremendous flexibility in three-point shooting, where we can sub Rod in at the 4 and play with a line-up of Tinsley, Jenkins, Taylor, Rod, and Tchiengang, all five of whom can hit an open three, to say nothing of Parker, who is known as a very solid three-point shooter.

Interestingly enough, this team has the ability to get to the basket unlike any we have seen thanks to the addition of Johnson. When we need to attack, we can go with a lineup of Johnson, Jenkins, Taylor, Goulbourne, and Ezeli.

We have depth unlike we've seen. Foul trouble and injuries will always hurt a team, but hopefully in our case any losses we sustain through the year will be tempered by that depth.

Good god the possibilities are endless. The question is whether Stallings will appropriately manage all the weapons in his arsenal. If so, look out.

Anonymous said...

Moats would pretty much have to redshirt...since Siakam is so young still (17?) he would have to be brought along more slowly and get the least p t.

Johnson and Parker will get LOTS of playing time. Write it down.

Book it.

vandy2015 said...

ill be a freshman next year i watched every game after i got in in december on tv or the internet. Im so fucking excited. How do i buy courtside seats next year. Is it possible to do so as a freshman?

Andrew said...

Unless things have changed since my day, students get their tickets free.

Vandy 2015 said...

wouldnt u have to arrive hours before the game to get to sit courtside tho

Stanimal said...

Congratulations on your choice Vandy 2015. It's truly an accomplishment to get into Vanderbilt. I know I probably couldn't get in again if I had to apply today!

I haven't lived in Nashville for several years and the last time I was back was for the Vanderbilt-Kentucky game in 2010. For that particular game, people were lined up past Hawkins field towards McGugin to get into the game. I get the sense it's not as bad for other games based on what I've seen from posters on the internet. Bobby O'Shea is local and might have more insight.

If you're wanting to buy courtside seats for the season, you will likely have to spend some serious cash. All those are available at www.vucommodores.com under the tickets section.

Anonymous said...

This is it... we will not have a team this good for sometime...

Bobby O'Shea said...

Vandy2015, Congrats on getting in and deciding to attend Vanderbilt. I, like Stanimal, wouldn't get in if I applied today (although Seamus would have, so at least one of the VSLers is as smart as you).

To answer your question, if you are willing to get there early enough (90 minutes to 2 hours), you can get court-side in the student section. If, however, you want to guarantee a court-side seat, a $1,500 contribution to the National Commodore Club entitles you to will entitled you to buy a seat in rows 1-7 in Sections A-E. I'll make you a deal though, you contribute to the NCC at any level, and I (Bobby O'Shea) will show you the proper way to pre-game a Vanderbilt Basketball game: dinner at Rotier's.

By the way, that offer is on the table to anyone in Class of 2015 who is using VSL to get ready for college.