Monday, April 2, 2012

Vanderbilt was the last team to beat Kentucky

A fact Commodore fans should both take pride in and will inevitably go back to and ask "what if" when thinking about Vanderbilt's 2011-12 campaign.


Anonymous said...

I doesn't hurt that it was a convincing win either! Go Dores!

Andrew Smith said...

I'm shocked at how little "what if" there has been. I have spent this entire tournament angry to watch teams with wildly inferior talent advance further than us on the strength of better coaching.

I mean, seriously, had Florida played Kansas or Ohio State there could easily have been two teams we beat and one we should have beaten by a good margin in the Final Four.

And no one has seriously called for a debate on whether we might be able to do better than Stallings?

Stanimal said...

It's at the rumble stage Andrew. But it'll probably take the program regressing before you get any serious whooping about it.

VandyJon said...

I was hoping Stallings would get fired this year but with the Dores winning the SEC championship it isn't going to happen. I agree with Stanimal that the team would need to regress before he'll get fired or if he leaves for another job.

Stanimal said...

Personally, I like Stallings. He didn't get optimal performance out of this group, but he's gotten it out less talented players. It doesn't help that UK re-emerged at the very same instant that we got these guys and it doesn't help that Tennessee was playing its best basketball in years as well, or that Florida was thriving off its back to back national titles.

He should be judged on post-season performance, without question, but he also only has 6 teams out of his 14 that have actually made the tournament, with 3 of those being with this group of guys. I'm actually more worried about him losing a taste for coaching (and recruiting), and thus we have a program that regresses to mediocrity until he retires.

The program hasn't seized the moment, to be sure, but we also haven't had players of that caliber for any consistent time period, and they were never the most consistent bunch. Maybe the right collection of players takes us to the next step.

WBarnes said...

"What if" UK actually cared about the SEC tournament? They didn't, they cared about the one that actually means something. Hang that SEC tourney champs banner proudly right next to the NIT appearances banner. Also, don't forget to ask for heavy starch on the collar at the dry cleaners.

buzneg said...

The most talented group in school history won a total of ONE big dance game in four years.

But Stallings already announced he was coach for life...or until his youngest kid turns 18 or something.

He better restock the friggin' cupboard with some players and coach them up or he will be gone before that kid has a learner's permit.

Andrew Smith said...

1. I fully acknowledge the truth of every good thing that is said about Stallings. He is, by far, the best coach this program has had in my life and going another way carries real risks. I'd fully expect to go through at least three coaches before finding one who is definitively better and can take us to the next level. And there's a real risk we'll never find it. Every team wants consistent excellence. Few achieve it. But I still think it's a risk worth taking.

2. I share Stanimal's worry that Stallings has already begun to retire a bit on the job. He has, in years past, gotten more than you'd expect from the the talent on the floor, so the fact that he has gotten less for the past four years worries me whether about where he's headed. I'm even more worried when I look at the recruiting. Part of being a good college coach is reloading each and every year, but he has left us naked.

3. That said, he has gotten too much credit for past recruiting. We have come in with a lot of lousy recruiting classes and gotten lucky. If you look at the class that's leaving, the only really highly valued recruit was JJ. No one was that hot on Jeff out of HS and Festus wasn't even on the radar. Unless you want to argue that Stallings is far better than others at spotting players who will develop (which is certainly possible), he just got really lucky. Ogilvy, Beal, Foster: they weren't recruiting nobodies but they weren't regarded as home runs either.

4. I don't think the SEC tourney victory should count all that much in favor of Stallings. We played one decent game. If we hadn't faced lousy opponents in the first two games, we'd have been bounced out early. Hell, the Florida team that played UK in the semis would have beaten the Vandy team that showed up for Ole Miss by 20 points. That said, I don't discount the win over UK. Cal may say he doesn't care about the conference tourneys but he played the game as if he cared. It's not like he rested the starters for 20 min because he didn't want them injured before the NCAAs. They came to play. Vandy laid down the challenge: "We're packing the middle, so you're making 3s or you're going to lose." and UK failed to make its 3s. That was a really good victory and Stallings deserves credit for making the right plan. But it's still one game.