Monday, March 12, 2012

Thoughts on Yesterday's Euphoric Affair

Yesterday was the kind of performance, the kind of victory, that Vandy fans have thirsted for since these seniors were freshmen. It altered the course of the program for numerous reasons. First, it has changed the national perception of the program. Vandy has had some really nice wins over the course of Stallings' career, but none against an opponent that hyped, on a stage that large, on a neutral court. This was truly, a massive upset. Kentucky is the regular season champ and without question deserving of the #1 seed, but they are not the SEC Tournament Champion, and that is a huge huge deal.

Second, these seniors and Stallings have gone through major, major adversity over the past four years. Vanderbilt was an up-and-coming program when they entered in 2008. Rightly or wrongly, they were expected, given the level of talent they brought with them, to take this program to the next level. It has been a long and rocky road in that respect, with three early tournament exits and a number of blips of inconsistent play. They've wowed and they've crushed. Yesterday, they accomplished something that Vanderbilt has not been able to do in 60 years, and never since the SEC Tournament started again back in 1979. They did it in a huge way. The emotion and sheer relief of the event was apparent on Stallings face. He has perenially been dogged for this team's underachievements, and no doubt felt the pressure after a season of some disappointment. No more. This team did yet another thing that they had never done before to prove themselves different, and that's grab the brass ring. What a huge confidence boost and massive momentum shift heading into the NCAA tournament.

Third, Vanderbilt has thrown a major monkey off its back, and in an unexpected manner. No one thought we could win the SECT Championship this year, not with the way Kentucky dominated the field. For these seniors to show up, in the face of all that adversity, and to play Kentucky the way that they did and on the biggest stage in the conference, is just awe inspiring.

This was huge on so many levels, but there's just a couple. Sound off on your thoughts.


David Rutz said...

You mostly said it all, but seriously, lost in the SEC championship hoopla is Vanderbilt beat the No. 1 team in the nation! And not in cozy Memorial Gym, but in Rupp Arena South. Biggest win in five years and the best so far for these seniors, obviously.

Key moment in the game for me was when Vandy trailed 57-51 and Doron Lamb had an open 3-pointer and missed. That would have been hard to overcome. Then Tinsley (who had a great tournament and gets overlooked too much) comes back and hits a 3 and that was a huge swing. Great composure by the guys, looked and played like the more veteran team that they are.

I can't stop grinning thinking about this game. That was awesome.

Especially happy for Stallings, who like you said, probably felt the pressure this year. He hadn't won a division title, conference tournament or anything substantive in 13 seasons. Pumping fists, urging them down the court, drawing that technical. He wanted it badly and it reflected in their effort.

Now let's hope they keep it up. If Vandy can punk Kentucky down the stretch the way they did, there's no telling what they can do.

Anything but Gatorade said...

No question Vanderbilt deserved to win. For the first time almost all season, the Dores executed in the clutch and played strong defense in the last five minutes of the game. Congratulations to the team and the fans, and best of luck against those assholes from Cambridge on Thursday!

J.B., M.D. said...

To quote James Carville: "Oh... It... We... have no response. That was perfect." Bravo Stanimal.

Sklaw said...

For the first time in a long long time, Vanderbilt delivered in the clutch and gutted out a victory.

The prior two UK games were close affairs, but every time we got close Kentucky answered, making clutch play after clutch play down the stretch. Yesterday, the roles reversed- it was us shutting them down to 0 FGs in the last 8 minutes, reminiscent of their dominant defense in nashville this year in the last several minutes. Every time they had the crowd roaring when momentum couldve swung their direction for good, we stepped up and made plays, instead of making mistakes. That is what it takes to be considered elite. I just hope yesterday was not a one time occurrence and we can take our experience in New Orleans and grow from it. Its funny that we started the season as a very popular pick to make a deep run, even seth davis had us in his preseason final four; we fell off the radar for a while there; it seems like the media is loving us again- its better to be loved than to be the favorite pick to beat in the first round by a mid major!