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 men’s basketball took their first SEC game of the season 64-52 Tuesday night against Auburn. Here’s The Black & Gold Standard’s breakdown.
– Black & Gold Standard contributor Max Herz published an article in the Hustler today about the lack of student attendance at sporting events, and everything he said is entirely true. That is what made the student turnout against Auburn so significant. Yes, there was a giveaway (Vandy water bottles this time), but the student section usually hasn’t been this into a game even when it’s full. The U-S-A chants aimed at Auburn’s Malcolm Canada may have been the students’ best contribution, but the section was just about completely full for a game against one of the worst teams in the SEC. The students were present and they were loud, which is a good step toward making Memorial an intimidating venue once again. Overall, there were only about 10,000 VU fans at the game (lots of Auburn fans made the trip), so I’m not buying in to the talk of what a great atmosphere there was at this game. It can still be better, and Memorial wasn’t that close to being full.
– As far as the game goes, it was an ugly one. It’s hard to find a power conference team that is worse than Auburn on the offensive end, and I was not impressed by how the Tigers have been coached offensively. Jeff Roberson, however, proved his worth by holding Auburn leading scorer KT Harrell to just eight points. Roberson was only 1-6 from the field and has a long, long way to go offensively, but this team doesn’t really need more offense to succeed. Roberson, Damian Jones, and James Siakam are the only three above average defenders Kevin Stallings has right now (although Wade Baldwin has shown flashes), and those three guys will need to keep it up. Overall, the Commodores’ performance was not encouraging, but any league win is a good win.
– Out of Vandy’s two leading scorers this year, Riley LaChance didn’t look bothered by his face mask, while Damian Jones struggled against a solid Auburn defense. Jones has had a couple of sub-par games recently and his draft stock has slid ever so slightly, according to DraftExpress. Dame played some of his most consistent ball last year during SEC play, however, so I suspect this is nothing more than a temporary cold streak.
– Vandy has struggled on the board this season but outrebounded Auburn by 20 (!). Every player corralled at least two rebounds except Shelby Moats, who only played two minutes. With big men who simply aren’t naturally elite rebounders, it will take an increased effort from the Commodore backcourt to improve the team’s rebounding, and that’s what we saw in this game.
– Next up is a road game against Arkansas, a top-25 team that just defeated NCAA tournament-caliber UGA on the road. The Hogs are extremely tough at home, sporting a .895 winning percentage at Bud Walton Arena under Mike Anderson. Arkansas loves to press and to play at a fast pace, so Vandy needs to protect the ball much better than they did against Auburn, turning the ball over 19 times. The ‘Dores will also need to hit open threes in transition and, at times, early in the shot clock or Arkansas could run away with this one. A win would immediately vault VU back into the NCAA tournament discussion.