Before I rant about Vanderbilt's issues, I wanted to congratulate WKU on their 76-69 victory tonight against Vanderbilt. The team brought a lively crowd down from Bowling Green. The Hilltoppers controlled the game from the tip to the final horn. I did a majority of my undergrad at Western, so this loss doesn't hurt as bad as it probably should.
Now back to to problems facing the 'Dores. I was struggling to find a way to sum up the loss and the team as a whole. Luckily I found a post-game quote by senior leader Jermaine Beal that seems to explain things quite well:
“I would agree with Coach (Stallings), that we are a broken mess. Confidence is down. Hopefully we can get everything going this week during practice.”
Broken mess? That's one way to explain it I guess. Here are some general observations from tonight's stink bomb.
Stallings didn't start A.J. Ogilvy or Beal. He was trying to get both of them to ramp up their effort level. Beal played 27 minutes and scored 12 points on five for 11 shooting. So even though he didn't get the start, he still was on the floor a lot. A.J. was a much different story. He only played 15 minutes and sat the bench for the first eight minutes of both halves.
What an absolutely embarrassing Vanderbilt crowd. Western Kentucky had to outnumber Commodore fans by a 10-1 margin. Shouldn't there have been more than 300 Vandy fans there? In my preview , I said that it would be more like a home game than on a neutral site. Just kidding. Vanderbilt just played a true road game, two miles away from Memorial. It was a joke.
With Vandy trailing by two points (64-62) with four minutes to play, Lance Goulbourne put together another one of his negative runs. Lance was beind guarded by the smaller A.J. Slaughter. It seems like Stallings called for a post up.
Anyway, Lance walked. A jumper by Slaughter game WKU 66-62 lead. Then Lance made a horribly aggressive drive and got bailed out by a blocking call. He only made one free throw and Vandy would never get within a basket again. Why in the world is this team relying on Goulbourne in the two biggest possessions of the game? Seems like bad coaching.
Stallings is beside himself about the poor defense and the team's lack of effort. “You have to acknowledge effort or lack thereof," Stallings said. "Your most talented guys, if they’re not playing with the effort that is needed, tears the fabric of the team apart. It’s not a team-wide thing. We’ve got guys giving great effort, but we have key guys not giving the effort we need.” You shouldn't have to be coaching effort to these guys.
I officially apologize to Jeffery Taylor. He hit jumpers, grabbed boards, and was just fantastic tonight. The Swedish Sensation scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He connected on 75 percent of his shots, hitting nine of 12.
To close my preview, I wrote: "If I have to walk to my car at 11:00 in the freezing cold after a sloppy loss, I will not be happy."
Well, let's just say that I'm not happy and neither is the rest of Commodore Nation.
I'll post again this weekend to summarize where the team stands and what they need to do to right the ship.
The players are going to have to balance finals week with a series of vicious practices. Those things are going to be nasty.