The fresh-faced Vanderbilt Commodores Men’s Basketball team had a premier matchup in game one against a tough Memphis Tigers team. There are high hopes for head coach Jerry Stackhouse, fresh off a contract extension, and the young squad but, question marks as well, mainly on the offensive side. Who would replace Vanderbilt’s leading scorer from a season ago in Scotty Pippen? Jordan Wright? Myles Stute? That question remains unanswered as sloppy offensive basketball plagued the Commodores in the first game and loss of the season.
Offensive Woes Plague the ‘Dores
To start the night, Jerry Stackhouse went with a defense-heavy starting five. Ezra Manjon at the one, Jordan Wright and Tyrin Lawrence both at guard, Myles Stute at forward, and Quentin Millora-Brown at the five. Going with a defensive-heavy five to start the game put the Commodores immediately behind the eight-ball as scoring points were at a premium.
The Vanderbilt offense had a night that they will wish to forget. During the first half of the matchup, it seemed as though there were lids on the bucket for the Commodores and they could not buy a point for much of the first half. During the first half, Vanderbilt shot a measly 30% from the field and was 2-14 from beyond the arc.
Vanderbilt picked up their offensive production in the second half, but it was still too little too late. Vanderbilt finished the game shooting 41% from the field and finished 12-30 from three-point land.
Vanderbilt had an opportunity to keep the ball game close. Memphis found themselves in foul trouble early and before you know it, Vanderbilt found themselves in the bonus early in the second half. Vandy had a prime opportunity with their size and experience down low to pound the boards and make Memphis foul them, but alas, they decided not to. Even if they did decide to go the smart route and pound the glass and make Memphis play physically, Vanderbilt was abysmal from the charity stripe, shooting 9-15 in gimmes.
Overall, it was a sloppy night for a young Vanderbilt team. The buckets were not falling and the ‘Dores had numerous careless turnovers, thirteen to be exact. You can expect that in the first game of the season there is going to be rust, and that will be compounded by the fact that you are going up against a quality opponent but Stackhouse and the Commodores must utilize non-conference play and get these issues shored up before January arrives.
Life After Scotty
One of the biggest question marks heading into this basketball season, if not the biggest, was who would replace Scotty Pippen’s offensive production. Many have suggested, including Jerry Stackhouse, that this might finally be the time for Jordan Wright to step forward and take center stage, but as of Monday night, that was not the case. The guard got the start for the evening and clocked in 26 minutes of playing time but only recorded 7 points as he shot 3-7 from the field. For Vanderbilt to be successful this season, they need Wright to step up and take command and become the star of this team. Can he do it, or will there be an unlikely hero in one of the newcomers?
Plenty of Ball Left
A loss is a loss, and they hurt regardless. But, there is a silver lining; a young, inexperienced Vanderbilt team went up against KenPom’s #27 team in the nation and played bad, bad basketball and only lost by 9 points. Are there things to be concerned about? There is no question that the quality of offense, the ability to get boards, and overall play were concerning. But expect this team to surprise some people, and gain confidence as the non-conference schedule continues.
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