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.
Needing a win over a downward-trending Tennessee team, Vandy gave up a five point lead with just 15 seconds remaining and proceeded to lose in overtime, 76-73, to the rival Volunteers on Wednesday.
– I predicted that Riley LaChance would have a monster game and instead Slim Shady had possibly his worst game of the year. It’s not that Tennessee did anything to disrupt LaChance, but the freshman’s open threes were not falling and this ended up costing the Commodores. According to KenPom.com, Vandy had a better than 99% chance to come away with a victory up five with 15 seconds left, but as my dad so illustriously stated via text message, “bad teams can’t finish out games.” I don’t know if Vanderbilt is necessarily a bad team but they haven’t closed out games well at all this season.
– Vanderbilt really had everything going for them in this game. The ‘Dores have been comfortable at home all season and even got some nice home cooking from the officials in the first half as the foul differential was 8-2 in Vandy’s favor. VU had countless open shooters on the perimeter all night and played some nice defense in the second half, and both head coaches felt that Vandy simply gave the game away.
– I felt Kevin Stallings had an excellent game plan as VU attacked UT inside early hoping to get a thin Volunteer front line into foul trouble. Vandy then looked to play through the post and feed their outside shooters, and the ‘Dores made their first five threes. Vanderbilt went zone a few times with a decent amount of success, and Stallings also broke out a full court press that worked great and forced UT into two turnovers.
– Wade Baldwin played a whopping 44 minutes and honestly didn’t have much to show for it. The freshman guard was 3-9 with four rebounds and seven assists but posted an offensive rating of only 94 for the game. Stallings lamented Baldwin’s bizarre decision in overtime to pass Damian Jones the ball out near the three point line, resulting in a key turnover that put Vandy in a very bad situation. Carter Josephs should be playing more minutes based off how he’s performed this season when given a chance, but honestly I don’t think Vanderbilt will get even average point guard play from anyone on the roster this season. Good guard play is paramount in college basketball, and Vandy’s lack of a quality, experienced point guard is the biggest reason for the team’s struggles this season. Baldwin and Mitchell will surely develop and improve, probably by next season, so I’m not worried about the point guard situation long-term.
– I’ve seen my fair share of high profile rivalry games, and the mutual disdain between VU fans and their UT counterparts is apparent. I didn’t think this game seemed overly like a rivalry game, however, based on what I saw from the players on the court. There was no chippiness and it was a clean game overall. I was disappointed by that. Quite frankly, I think Vanderbilt needs an enforcer of sorts and I wouldn’t mind seeing someone trash talk a rival player and even picking up a technical foul. Damian Jones plays with that general kind of attitude, but he’s not the type of guy who’s going to pick up a tech or get into it with another player (and I don’t mean that in a negative way; I love his demeanor on the court). Maybe incoming recruit D’jery Baptiste, an extremely physical center, will be that guy next season. Most successful teams, however, have at least one player who doesn’t care what anyone thinks and is more than willing to get in an opponent’s face and trash talk or even taunt them a bit, and I think VU could use a guy like that. This might be a controversial idea, but Vandy hasn’t had a guy like that recently and the supposed underachievement of the John Jenkins teams could partially be a result of having a core group of extremely skilled players who are not overly physical.