Friday, January 20, 2012

Post-Game Thoughts on the Alabama Win

As Stanimal said, the final score wasn't indicative of how close the game was. I watched the game later on DVR with an idea that things were going to end well, but wihtout knowing exactly how or what that would look like. Perhaps watching it without the benefit of commercials affected the experience, but I didn't feel like we were dominating, and then all of a sudden, we're up 23.

This isn't the say they didn't play great (I think they did), but more to say I thought, overall, it was a steady performance.

Defensively, I thought we played excellent. Alabama isn't the best offense in the world, but as the announcers Davis (Rece and Hubert) kept reiterating, some of that was due to Vanderbilt's stiffling play. The Tide shot just 32.9% from the field, and only made it to the free throw line 10 times in 40 minutes. Vanderbilt also out-rebounded Anthony Grant's team by +13, although surrendered 15 offensive boards.

Without focusing on the negatives, Vanderbilt turned the ball over too much, and looked (at times) very uncomfortable against Alabama's press. Credit where credit is due, Alabama is a stout defensive team. Although these turnover led to another statistic that would be troubling if you didn't also have the benefit of the final score: Vanderbilt attempted 20 fewer shots than the Tide from the floor. You give a team 20 more shots (especially on the road) and you are playing with fire.

Hubert and Rece made a point during the game that I hadn't heard about a Vanderbilt team in quite some time (perhaps not never): they were the more aggressive team. When the Commodores extended their lead in the second half, it was because there were getting to every loose ball, they were knocking down shots, and they were playing great defense. Obviously, that's a recipe for success. To me, there appears to be a confidence and toughness to this team that has been lacking in year's past. This is not to say they don't have their moments of disappointing play, but overall, one has to be happy with this team's development and evolution after a disappointing 6-4 start.

Coming off a loss at Ole Miss, Mississippi State will have a lot to play for as they head to Memorial Gym tomorrow night. This won't be an easy game for the Commodores, but given the way they are playing right now, you've got to feel good about this team.


Stanimal said...

The turnovers additional shots and offensive rebound totals are troubling, but the defense was top notch.

The combination of Festus and Lance on Jamychal Green and Tony Mitchell was stifling, and so was their performance on the boards. Lance has become just as pesky defensively as Jeff and almost as versatile, except for we can't expect him to chase guards around the whole game. But that combination of Lance and Fez has become a lockdown entity against opposing front courts, and they are a big reason why we won the game. I LOVED the committment to the glass, particularly from John Jenkins, who pulled down 8 boards last night.

Defense wins games when you're off in shooting. Defense + being on in shooting leads to being up 25 at half. Alabama is a better offensive team than any other we've faced so far, and Marquette was a far better offensive team than Alabama and we reached a similar result. This isn't a fluke, this team is playing tough defense.

By KenPom standards, Alabama was the third strongest team we will face in SEC play (behind Florida and Kentucky). Everyone should be pretty pleased that we thrashed them mightily on the road.

Aaron Novick said...

The 20 additional shots statistic is troubling but not as troubling as it looks at first glance. Only about half of the disparity was due to ORebs and turnovers. The other half was due to us getting to the line way more often than they did. And given that we shot FTs well (Fes aside) and they shot FGs terribly, that worked out heavily in our advantage.