The Black & Gold Standard is an all-new VandyRadio Blog featuring general commentary and advanced statistical breakdowns following every Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball game. Robbie Weinstein of The Homefield Advantage (along with, on occasion, Max Herz and Dan Helinek) will be bringing you the best analysis of Commodore basketball throughout the season as the team chases a postseason berth for the first time since 2012. Check out the Black & Gold Standard for all kinds of new content as the young ‘Dores fight through the 2014-15 schedule.
Vanderbilt headed down to Atlanta for the team’s first true road game and took a 65-60 loss at the hands of Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish 13th out of 15 teams in the ACC this season and entered the game ranked 64 in RPI and 92 in the KenPom ratings.
– Vanderbilt badly needed to win all of the remaining games on the nonconference schedule and the Commodores looked far and away the superior team for much of the first half. Vandy continued to play the free-flowing style we’ve seen recently from them and had 33 points at halftime to show for it against a strong defensive team. GT’s 20 offensive rebounds killed Vanderbilt and allowed the Jackets to outshoot VU 67 to 45. Although Vandy gave up 40 points in the second half, this was much more due to giving GT extra shots than due to bad defense; the Commodores still held the Jackets to 39% shooting on the day.
– In my last post, I mentioned briefly that Vandy’s freshmen needed to limit turnovers in the first road game of their respective careers. The young ‘Dores succeeded in this for much of the game, but key turnovers by Wade Baldwin and Shelton Mitchell produced easy run-outs for Tech and put Vanderbilt in a very precarious position late in the game. Mitchell, Baldwin, and Fisher-Davis badly mishandled the most important possession of the game with 37 seconds on the clock, leading to a poor Wade Baldwin three that clanked off the iron after a full 20 seconds had elapsed. Vanderbilt is 0-3 in their only three close games this year, and key mistakes by the freshmen at the end of each game have characterized each of the three losses. This was to be expected coming into the season, and it stands to reason that the mistakes will decrease in frequency as the team moves forward and the backcourt gains experience.
– Damian Jones struggled for most of the game, but Shelton Mitchell successfully got the star big man involved with about eight and a half minutes remaining in the second half. Mitchell has struggled with his shot for much of this season and routinely gets rejected when he goes to the basket. He has improved greatly, however, overall as a player and seems to be a better option at the point guard than Wade Baldwin when the Vandy offense stalls. The 6’3” freshman has great court vision and excels in the pick and roll, making passes that few other players around the country can match. Baldwin is still arguably the better all-around player and probably will not lose his starting job anytime soon, but it is telling that Kevin Stallings always plays Mitchell at the 1 and Baldwin off the ball when the two guards are in together.
– Luke Kornet has struggled to find open looks over the last three games, and has taken only nine shots in the last three games. Teams have started to show the 7’1” sophomore’s shot more respect, and while this has led in decreased opportunities for Kornet, the rest of the court has opened up a bit more. The result has been more open shots for Riley LaChance, and the freshman sharpshooter has taken advantage.
– Backup center Josh Henderson provided a big boost off the bench for Vanderbilt, breaking out with 12 points in 11 minutes. Our own Max Herz wrote prior to the season about the 6’11” redshirt senior’s value as a quality backup, and had this to say about Henderson’s performance against GT:
With Damian Jones putting up just two points in the first half, redshirt senior Josh Henderson was by far the strongest of Vanderbilt’s four post players. Henderson gave Jones a breather at center just over six minutes into the game and on his first possession grabbed an offensive rebound, drew a foul, and made both free throws to knot the game at ten. That was the start of eight great minutes for Henderson as he established an inside presence en route to 10 first half points, including a contested baseline jumper and a long two-pointer. At the half, Henderson was Vandy’s leading scorer with double digits on 4-4 shooting. He re-entered the game six minutes into the second half and drained a lay-up off a nice pass from Shelton Mitchell, again scoring on his first possession. He left the game three minutes later, just two points shy of his career best with a perfect field goal percentage. Josh Henderson was able to score when Damian Jones wasn’t, eating up productive minutes until the All-SEC center finally found his groove. Both big men finished with 12 points, a strong showing for Vandy’s developing rotation at center.
The ‘Dores are back at it on Monday at Memorial Gym against the 3-5 Penn Quakers.