Tuesday, June 28, 2011

VSL Hotline: People Say Crazy Things, Edition

And by people, I'm including myself. Brace yourself, this is not something I expected to say, let alone post on VSL: Joe Biddle is right. The Tennessean columnist who Commodore fans love to hate has a piece in today's paper that I think is both fair and accurate when it comes to Vanderbilt sports (it is worth mentioning Biddle is 2 for 2 in recent columns discussing Vanderbilt - his piece on the Baseball team's season not being defined by their final loss was similarly well thought-out and fair). Joe's thesis is simple, Coach Stallings needs his team to have a great year: "Now it is basketball Coach Kevin Stallings’ turn to take his team deep in the NCAA Tournament. Stallings never will have at his disposal the talent and depth he has this season." Right and right, Joe. Vanderbilt fans have been disappointed by the team's early tournament exits in their last 3 NCAA appearances. This year, with the entire starting line-up returning, and the addition of 3 stud freshmen, Vanderbilt should have the best team in the program's history. That needs to translate into wins in March.

But Biddle doesn't stop there. Rather than hanging his hat on the obvious point, Joe goes one step further and actually analyzes the areas in which CKS' team needs to improve: "To fulfill the expectations, Stallings must find a way for his team to stop blowing second-half leads and losing games it should close out." Not earth-shattering stuff, but certainly better than the usual "Vanderbilt is bad at Football because they don't have an AD" or "David Williams is no Mike Hamilton," or whatever other garbage the Tennessean columnists usually spew. Even the conclusion appears prescient: "Either the Commodores have not been tough enough mentally, or the players grow weary of Stallings’ negativity and can’t wait for spring break. There are no excuses this season." Joe? Is that you?

The second "people say crazy things" story comes from Coach Kevin Stallings, who yesterday, during the SEC Coaches telephone conference suggested the conference consider playing a 22-game league schedule now that the divisions have been scrapped in basketball. Jerome Boettcher has the run-down of CKS' comments in today's Nashville City Paper:
“Like I said when I said it [at the league meetings], I am the most surprised person in the room that I am saying this,” Stallings said during Monday’s SEC summer teleconference call. “But it is something to think about. Obviously, we feel like we’ve been drug through Armageddon after we get finished with 16 games. So you can imagine how you would feel after 22. I don’t think that will get a lot of traction but I at least thought it was worth bringing up and discussing.”
It's an interesting idea. it is also probably the most "fair" in the sense that everyone plays everyone else home and away every season. The luck of the draw in who your opponents are, and when you play them, would be completely removed under a 22-game format. As Stallings said: [the 22-game] format would deliver the “truest form of a conference champion." And, while he's right about that, there is considerable downside, not the least of which is the non-conference schedule that would significantly diminish if every SEC school played every other school twice. Even Stallings isn't prepared to say he thinks it's what the league should do. Instead, he's suggesting it's something to consider:
"I don’t anticipate that is where we will end up . . . It will be difficult. That is why I am not ready to throw my opinion out there. Whatever we decide, it needs to be what is best for our league going forward. Not is what best is for Vanderbilt or Kentucky or what is best for Florida. It needs to be what is best for our league. That is what we will try to do."
Regardless of what the new schedule looks , Stallings believes scrapping the divisions was the right thing to do:
"It makes sense for the league . . . I think that there were schools and teams that benefitted by the divisional play a little more than others . . . I think from the league’s overall perspective, I think it is the right thing for us to do."
Say what you want about Stallings, but it's hard to argue with his logic.

What do you think, VSLNation?

Some other tidbits from the Boettcher City Paper story:
- Offseason surgeries: Two key members of Vanderbilt’s 2010-11 team recently underwent surgery. Starting center Festus Ezeli (knee) and backup Steve Tchiengang (ankle) both had successful corrective surgeries, which Stallings called “minor in nature.” Ezeli had a piece of his patella tendon removed from his left knee and is expected to be ready for preseason conditioning in August.Tchiengang had surgery on his right ankle a couple weeks ago and the recovery time could take as long as three months.

- Final Four bound?: Georgia coach Mark Fox thinks Vanderbilt is dripping with enough talent to make a deep postseason run. “I think they have a team that legitimately can contend for a Final Four,” Fox said. “They have a great backcourt. They have terrific wing play, terrific shooting. They have an NBA center and I think they're well coached. I think they’ll have a good bench. I think that when you start looking at the ingredients of a team, there’s not much missing from Vandy’s team.”

- Walker’s future: Andre Walker might use his remaining year of eligibility — just not at Vanderbilt. Andre is reportedly considering a transfer to the Kansas, Wichita State, Northwestern and Xavier.

We're hoping this is a big week for Coach Franklin and his recruiting efforts. If you want "breaking" news go to VandySports.com's War Room (or hope the story runs on ESPN.com and is picked up by our Vanderbilt Google Alert), if sprained news is fine, VSLNation should be more your speed.


Douglas James said...

I voted for 18 games but think they should actually play 19. Play 8 teams twice a year and 3 teams only once. And I think even though they scrapped the East/West divisions, each team should continue to play their "division opponents" twice and alternate every other year with 2/1 game with teams in the opposite division.

Is their some mathematical reason to have an even number of games that I am unaware of?

Bobby O'Shea said...

There is no reason why they have to play an even number of games. As such, I've updated the poll options to include "other."

I think they should keep the divisional format as far as who you play home and home with, add a "rivalry" game (or 2) between a team from what used to be the east and a team that used to be the west that play each other every year (like they do in Football), and then rotate home and away with whomever is left.

Stanimal said...

Disagree with Biddle on one point: that we will never have the talent we have at our disposal this season ever again. This season is pivotal to getting to that stage, but I would argue we are already pulling in players of a similar ilk. Now, will the talent we obtain in the future position themselves the way that these players have to be drafted? Maybe, maybe not. But Biddle better be careful in choosing his words, because our basketball team is well positioned for future success as well.

Anonymous said...

Andre Walker at Kansas?

He might want to sign up for intramurals to get some playing time there.