Monday, November 28, 2011

Quite Obvious Who Was the Better Coached and Tougher Team

Let me start by saying that Xavier is a very good team with an excellent backcourt and that Lyons and Holloway are fantastic. They came in and won a tough road game and cemented the fact that their preseason ranking was deserved. Well done by the Muskateers.

Nothing else about this post will be anything but incredibly sharp criticism of the Commodores this evening.

There's a reason why the national media chooses to crap all over Vanderbilt consistently. It's because there's a ridiculous amount of ammunition for them to do so. I'm beginning to think that this group of guys takes some sort of sadistic pleasure in tormenting their own peers, and frankly that includes Stallings.

I could ramble on irrationally for several pages, but I'll keep this to three points.

1. Despite CKS' best efforts to deflect all blame for this loss, at least as much as he appeared to do so in the post-game presser, this primarily falls on his shoulders. Stallings' substitution patterns have long been a head-scratcher for Commodore fans, but tonight more than any they doomed us. I can understand the need to get your guys a breather for the stretch run with a 9 point lead midway through the second quarter. Get Taylor and Lance out, let them rest up for the stretch run. But the SECOND Holloway snatched that ball from Jenkins with 12:30 to play a timeout should have been called and a new group put in. No dice. Additional steal leads to a Lyons 3 which puts them right back in the thick of it. Then we proceeded to give our reserves ANOTHER minute on the floor before we mass subbed at 11:51. All in all, from 13:00 to 11:51 we were completely emasculated. Xavier was reeling and Stallings let off the gas. Simply put, you cannot do that against a team who has strengths in your area of weakness.

2. Credit must be given to our on-the-ball defense in the first half and, for the most part, in the second half. John Jenkins did a great job on Tu Holloway for the majority of the game. Of course, a large portion of defense is ending possessions. HOWEVER, I have harped endlessly about the need to end possession and not allow second chance opportunities. Tonight, Vanderbilt allowed 25 offensive rebounds IN REGULATION. Xavier had MORE offensive rebounds than we had DEFENSIVE rebounds. I'm sorry but in basketball that's the equivalent of taking it right where the sun don't shine. And guess what? That gave Xavier 10 more shot attempts than us, more than they needed to put us away.

3. Doug Gottlieb sarcastically berated our fans for booing the fact that we lost to Xavier tonight. I'm sure a lot of that was directed towards the referees for an incredibly disproportionate job this evening, but if you're a Vanderbilt fan you have to be experiencing; 1) a certain level of embarrassment about the way this team has come out, 2) a feeling that the doubters are right, and 3) the possibility that this team will never get any better than it presently is. Given the strikeouts in recruiting this year and the fact that this will likely be our best chance to get to a final four under Stallings in his 14 year tenure, anything but dramatic improvement in my opinion should be the death knell of Stallings at Vandy. Maybe we take steps back to do so, maybe we fall into oblivion. But Vandy fans have every right to be disappointed in the present state of the team.


AspenVU said...

Disappointment w the season says it all - memorial will look like the football stadium this year. Always been a CKS supporter - but he shoulders blame for substitutions - play tapes from last 2 March's - no imProvemwnt - I could defend Jj - no ncaa In current future.

Anonymous said...

Vanderbilt in a Final Four? Who are you kidding? Has Vandy ever been to a Final Four? Shouldn't a more realistic goal be the Sweet Sixteen or maybe an Elite Eight (again maybe)? Do Vanderbilt fans like you have any clue how difficult it is to reach a Final Four? CKS, despite all his faults, is the best coach Vandy has had in decades - maybe ever. Not to be spliting hairs, but this is his 13th season and in that time he has almost half of Vandy's NCAA appearances. Maybe Vandy just isn't as good as everyone thought. Yeah, it makes sense to fire a guy who owns half of Vandy's NCAA appearances.

Stanimal said...

Critical reading matters. Did I say that a final four is the expectation? No. I said that this is Stallings' best chance to get there and that given the current status of our recruiting we ain't gonna get that shot again. I obviously realize how hard it is to get to the final four. Vanderbilt also has the pieces to get there. A deep tournament run (yes beyond sweet 16) should be the expectation, especially considering this team is far more talented than each of Stallings previous sweet 16 squads. (8 top 100 recruits compared to 2 in 2006). Luck plays a part of course, but three strikeouts with this group of seniors is a plateau that has nothing but a downhill on the other side.

I'm guessing you're probably either a) a Tennessee fan, or b) a troll from some blue-blood school. To have expectations for a team that is as talented as any in the nation is completely fair and rational, and to hold the coach accountable when that unit fails to meet those expectations (as they have for 3 years now), is also completely fair. Vanderbilt should not be satisfied with being a second, third, or fourth wheel in the SEC, just like every other school shouldn't be satisfied with it. Otherwise, we might as well just play the tournament with only the top 8 programs of all time and stop right there.

Anonymous said...

Stanimal's observations are dead-on accurate; you could just see Xavier get a whiff of Commodore blood when we went with Kendren and Kyle Fuller (at the same time???) running the back-court, which led to Holloway's pick and then another steal for the quick three, cutting a 10 point lead down into 5.

Xavier was ready to roll over and die at that point; the fans were in it; the players were working their asses off; and then Stallings lays a substitution egg. This loss goes to the coach, for sure.

However. However, let's talk about the positives and point out some individual player improvements:

1. Lance is a monster. He works his ass off, fights for rebounds, and isn't afraid to drive to the basketball. He and Taylor are consistently finding each other down low for easy basketballs. Gone is the Lance of years past who would dribble the ball on his own foot and watch it trickle out of bounds. He is a player at the top of his game, and we must keep him involved. When he knocked down that three from the corner, it brought to mind the days of Freije stepping outside, drawing out his man, and then nailing a three.

2. Jeffrey Taylor is our best defender. Period. He is a shut-down defender who does all the intangibles right. He rarely fouls, and he rarely gets scored on. Think about how many players drove on him and scored last night? Hard to remember any if at all. Plus, he comes up with *enough* rebounds and usually gets 2-3 blocks a game. This is a much-needed improvement for Jeff. The play of Taylor and Goulbourne is why we finished the first half by 5.

3. We came out ready to play, ready to work, and we have to ask ourselves whether fatigue factoring into this loss. Over-time and send of regulation team was nowhere near as intense as the first half team. Are we in shape? These guys should be able to run marathons. Including fucking Great White Hope Henderson (who has great upside with some time in the weight room and a hot girlfriend), we should all be able to sprint our asses off all 30 minutes plus whatever. This game came down to the last possession, we had the final shot, and missed it. Then, in overtime, we weren't ready to keep running.

Time for some windsprints. Cause Louisville on Friday isn't going to be pretty, but it's the kind of game Vanderbilt has historically been able to win. Remember when we walked into Rupp in 2003 and took down a shockingly good Kentucky team. Vandy can surprise you just as often as kick you in the teeth (like a good mountain bike).

Dores 4ever.

Stanimal said...

Amen to the literary man!

Greg M said...


sklaw said...

A few things regarding last nights game. I agree whole heartedly with Stan the Man.

1) Stallings stupid substitution at 13 mins left with momentum on our side cost us the game. Enough said.

2) Stallings used to be a reason we won games and overacheived with the prior sweet 16 teams. They were organized and executed a game plan. This team has far too much free reign. They are careless with the ball- how many unforced errors did we make last night- throwing the ball directly out of bounds; throwing cross court lazy passes; dribbling off knees. Offensively this team needs a system (not saying princeton offense was fun to watch all the time, but at least our players had responsibilities).

3) Stallings needs to be held accountable- enough is enough...I said it at the end of last year when we lost that mistakes we made early in the year were never rectified and the same mistakes are haunting us this year early.
I agree with Stan that if this team does not live up to some degree of the expectations placed on them, he should be fired. I am sure there is a young coach out there who would light a fire under this team that CKS surely isnt.

4) I actually thought our perimeter defense was terrific for most of the game last night. Our numbers are good, other than all the offensive rebounds. I am still shocked we have not seen a single zone possession all year. That would save energy, fouls, etc even its just to buy some time, change the pace.

Anonymous said...

UT fans are not satisfied unless they are winning SEC Championships and going to the higher-profile bowls. Yet as a Vandy football fan, I am presently content with just a winning season and an invite to any bowl. And beating UT, of course.

As a Vandy Basketball fan, I want the conference championship. I want to go deep in the NCAA. It just feels realistic and possible. It has in years past, but falling short has been a reoccurring theme. So, maybe Stallings does need to be evaluated? Its like Jeff Fisher's tenure with the Titans finishing with mediocre seasons.

I was really turned-off by his comments with Joe Fisher last night. He blamed the bench for the loss and Henderson for having to play late in the game and in OT. Who wants to play for someone who throws their players under the bus like that?

Can James Franklin coach both football and basketball?

Anonymous said...

Call me unaware but didn't this team look like last year's underachievers? We haven't had a Vandy team that rebounds, in decades. That has always been the backbone of great teams - these coaches and players don't get it. Is it possible that Clyde Lee could be talked into being a paid consultant with this staff. Finally, watching Jenkins and Taylor don't leave me shaking my head at how awesome they will be in the NBA. Sorry, I want these guys to do well but it just doesn't seem to be in the cards.

AspenVU said...

Troubling is how similar that was to losses last year - W Fez - we get to the line at the end and win. You're right on JJ and JT.

Anonymous said...

Against good and less than good teams, there will be nights when Jenkins can shoot us to a double digit win. When he is off, we will usually beat good and less than good teams by closer margins. But against the best teams, Taylor must have more than his usual few minutes of offensive intensity for us to win. It is a lot to ask of a player to play defense as well as he does and be very good almost all night on offense as well, but that is the only way we will beat top flight teams. This team is not as good as we wanted it to be, but it will win a lot of games. I've already gotten my disappointment over with. Now I'll enjoy the season with our usual eleven losses and early out at the dance. As for Stallings, we need to keep him as badly as UT needed to keep Fulmer. In other words firing Fulmer was a huge mistake for Tennessee and not keeping Stallings as long as we can would be a huge mistake for Vandy. Yahweh is not available.

Stanimal said...

I think David Williams is a lot smarter than Mike Hamilton about his coaching searches.