The Black & Gold Standard is a VandyRadio sports blog featuring nuanced commentary and advanced statistical breakdowns following every Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball game and throughout the year. Robbie Weinstein of The Homefield Advantage will be bringing you the best analysis of Commodore basketball as the team looks to build on the success of last season’s NIT appearance. Check out The Black & Gold Standard for all kinds of new content as the Dores fight through the 2015-16 schedule. All stats courtesy of KenPom.com unless otherwise noted.
Vandy took care of St. John’s yesterday as expected, blowing out the Red Storm 92-55. It’s clear at this point that the Dores are great against bad teams (St. John’s lost by more than 30 at home to St. Thomas Aquinas College in an exhibition game), but their one game against a good team ended in an overtime victory over Stony Brook that was too close for comfort. Wake Forest enters Tuesday’s Maui Invitational semifinal game as an underrated NCAA Tournament at-large contender that is missing two of its better players in Codi Miller-McIntyre and Cornelius Hudson. The Demon Deacons, however, defeated Indiana yesterday due to the Hoosiers’ lack of defense, so they’re a dangerous team.
– Wake has had a couple of really poor performances this year in a 78-73 home win over an inept UMBC team as well as a 91-82 home loss to Richmond. Richmond is a solid team in the Atlantic 10 and was a 1 seed in the NIT last year, and the Spiders lit up the scoreboard with 11-23 from three (sound familiar?). It’s unclear if this was more due to poor Wake defense or great Richmond offense, but both factors were most likely involved. Regardless, the Demon Deacons are allowing opponents to shoot 38.7% from three while only turning them over 12.5% of the time, which is only 341st in the NCAA. Vandy should be able to put together another strong offensive day against Wake Forest based on the Demon Deacons’ play so far this year.
– The Demon Deacons’ offense has been great, averaging 83 points per game despite only ranking 124th nationally in effective field goal percentage, which accounts for the extra value threes offer. Wake plays somewhat fast, but a disproportionate amount of its offensive production comes from offensive rebounds. WFU rebounds a whopping 45.3% of its misses, good for the sixth best mark in the country. This likely will be a problem for Vandy, as they haven’t faced an offensive rebounding team the caliber of Wake. VU has rebounded the ball better this year, but the relative lack of competition makes it unclear just how much better the Dores have gotten. Stony Brook is more of a defensive rebounding team than an offensive rebounding one, so Wake will be the biggest test on the boards yet, by far. Look for the Deacs’ Devin Thomas and Dinos Mitoglou to give Damian Jones and Luke Kornet trouble on the boards in this one.
– Freshman point guard Bryant Crawford hit the game-winning shot for Wake against IU, but he also had eight turnovers and shot just 5-16 from the field. Wade Baldwin frustrated St. John’s freshman point guard Federico Mussini yesterday with his tight pressure defense, and Mussini is of a higher pedigree than Crawford. More ball pressure by VU not only can help create some easy baskets, but more Wake turnovers means there are less shots that can result in offensive rebounds and easy put backs. If the Commodores force Wake into 15 turnovers, they should almost certainly win and advance to the Maui championship game.
– Damian Jones needs to stay out of foul trouble in this one, although I can certainly understand the frustration with officials on his part. At one point yesterday, Christian Jones of St. John’s challenged Damian in the paint, and Vandy’s big man did not go completely straight up yet did not get called for a foul. Shortly thereafter, Damian blocked the shot of Jones, made relatively little contact with the body, and yet was called for his third foul. It’s hard to stay out of foul trouble when you don’t know how contact will be called, and this appears to be part of the reason why Damian hasn’t been able to stay on the floor this year.
– All things considered, I think Vandy will take this one and advance to face #5 Kansas on Wednesday. Wake’s offensive rebounding will keep them in it, but I expect VU to have another good day from outside the arc, due in part to the Demon Deacons’ mediocre three point defense. A 7-10 point margin sounds about right to me.
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