With only a few games remaining before the start of SEC play, I wanted to take a quick look bad at the first 11 games of the season. With apologies to Sergio Leone, here is a list of the Good, Bad, and the Ugly of the young Vanderbilt season. You can always check out my blog at DorePosts.com .
The play of Jeffery Taylor
Even though A.J. Ogilvy gets most of the national attention, it’s clear to most ‘Dore fans that Taylor is the best player on this year’s squad. He is averaging 15.8 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. On the year Taylor is shooting 55 percent from the floor. In Vanderbilt’s last four games, his field goal percentage is at an unbelievable 70 percent (29-41). With his incredible athleticism, he we continue to grab easy buckets all season.
The potential and confidence of super freshman John Jenkins
With all of the hype surrounding Jenkins, it was hard to not expect him to put up 20+ points on a consistent basis. Coach Stallings has a done a great job to help adjust Jenkins to the college game. The coach has limited his minutes and kept the pressure off the youngster’s shoulders. Fans have been able to see flashes of his game that allowed him to average 40+ as a high school senior. So far, Jenkins has hit a three pointer in all but one game this season. Even though their playing styles are different, it looks like Vanderbilt has another Shan Foster for the next four seasons.
The 24-0 run against Chaminade
After losing to Cincinnati in the opening round of the Maui Classic, Vanderbilt had the unenviable task of playing host Chaminade. It was a no-win situation for the Commodores. After a slow start, Vanderbilt was clinging to a 38-34 lead with 15:00 remaining in the game. Without warning, Vandy unleashed a 24-0 run that put the game out of reach. Jenkins hit three baskets from behind the arc to jump start the team. The drive helped build momentum for the ensuing win against Arizona. That drive saved the Maui trip.
Inability to stage any sort of rally against Illinois
Illinois got off to a 9-0 to start the game, and sadly, that run made the difference. Vandy closed the gap to 18-13 with about 13 minutes in the first half. The teams basically traded baskets for the entire second half, and Vandy lost by 11. It was a frustrating game to watch, and leads to questions about how the team will play on the road in the SEC.
Vanderbilt’s response to the physical play of Cincinnati
The Bearcats completely dominated the Commodores from a physical standpoint. They roughed up anybody trying to drive to the basket, and destroyed Vanderbilt on the boards. Cincinnati out rebounded Vandy by a 53-32 margin, including 23-14 on the offensive glass. Let’s just say that Vandy doesn’t want to run into a Big East school in the NCAA tournament.
The disappearing act of A.J. Ogilvy
There have been too many times this season where A.J. is a non-factor for long stretches on the floor. It seems to be a two-part issue: The ‘Dores are content to pass the ball around the perimeter and not force the issue down low. Then sometimes Ogilvy isn’t aggressive enough to establish himself on the low block. Even though Taylor is the best player on the floor, the offense has to run through the big man. The ‘Dores have enough great shooters that opponents will have to be selective on double teaming the Australian. If Vanderbilt has any chance to be a post-season factor, A.J. has to be a consistent threat.
Lance Goulbourne not taking advantage of chances
It looks like Coach Stallings is giving Lance every opportunity in the world to succeed. The problem is that his sloppy play is costing him minutes. He has 15 turnovers in 115 minutes of play. Compare that with Jermaine Beal, who only has 16 giveaways in 334 minutes. That’s not even considering that Beal touches the ball every time down the floor. Lance needs to prove to Stallings in the next three games that he can be trusted in SEC play. He has a lot of potential, but is more of a liability at this point.
The poor fan support in the loss to Western Kentucky
In the only bad defeat of the season, the Vanderbilt fan base was nowhere to be seen. The Sommet Center was rocking, but it was because of the droves of Hilltopper fans that made the hour journey from Bowling Green. Only a small pocket of Vandy fans were visible. Who would have thought the Commodores would be playing a road game in Nashville?
The relationship between Coach Stallings and Brad Tinsley
Fans can’t know how these two really feel about each other. They may be best friends and went on a double date to see Avatar. What is visible at games though, is a coach that expects way more out of a player than what he is getting.
Every time Tinsley makes a poor decision, Stallings goes ballistic. He doesn’t have the same reaction when Beal or Jenkins messes up. The reality is that Tinsley has twice as many turnovers as Beal, and that’s not going to get any better against the best of the SEC. Regardless of whether there is anything under the surface, the Stallings-Tinsley interactions are the best soap opera moments that the team has.