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.