Crimson Tide Drown the ‘Dores

The Vanderbilt Commodores faced off Tuesday night against the #4 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a chance to rebound from a tough loss. Before the game began, Vanderbilt got some good news as Liam Robbins warmed up and was available to play just 17 days removed from a high ankle sprain that was expected to sideline him for four to six weeks. The extent of the good news for the Commodores on the night ended there. Alabama absolutely demolished Vanderbilt 101-44 in a contest that was somehow even harder to watch than the score indicated. Vanderbilt started the game up 5-0 after a few minutes of play and the Crimson Tide then rattled off 21 straight points holding Vanderbilt scoreless for nine straight minutes. Alabama was able to take any shot they wanted with ease and defensively was smothering Vandy. Jerry Stackhouse decided to shake up the starting lineup starting Emmanuel Ansong, who coming in averaged 10 minutes a game, and walk-on Miles Keeffe, who averaged 3 minutes a game coming into the contest. The change was very surprising and failed to provide anything to the Commodores on either end. 

This game was a mismatch all around and was by far the most disappointing performance in the Stackhouse era. Stackhouse has his reasons for many things he does, but one inexplicable problem in the game all season has been his lack of timeout usage. He consistently allows this team to give up long stretches of scoring runs without using a timeout to stop the bleeding and Tuesday nights were indefensible. The Crimson Tide went on a 43-7 scoring run and Stackhouse did not use a single timeout at all. He actually did not call one single timeout in the whole entire game. No, using a timeout would not have resulted in a potential Vanderbilt win, but leaving your guys out on an island while Alabama is just toying with his players like they were children is mind-blowing. No adjustments seemed to be made on either end and it seemed he was content with letting them get their heads beat in to prove a point. He went on to mention in the post-game press conference that he was not happy with some attitudes of guys in practice following Saturday night’s loss to Texas A&M citing players were “smiling too much” and that there was nothing to be happy about after the loss. He was almost certainly referencing Jordan Wright and Tyrin Lawrence as Wright did not start and Lawrence did not play due to a “coach’s decision”. I will give Stackhouse credit for one thing, he is certainly hell-bent on having his players buy into what he is doing and doing things the way that he sees fit. This is admirable in the sense that of course, you want everyone on the team to be pulling in the same direction, but the timing of these issues may point more toward the coach than anything. The players in reference have been with the team for multiple seasons and we are now late into the season, if they are not bought in why is this just revealing its head now. These are issues that need to be discussed and taken care of in pre-season and in November. When issues of this magnitude are forcing you to not use your best players in big conference games, you can not help but wonder what is the root of it all and why it is still plaguing the team. 

Stackhouse signed an extension back in October of 2022 (the program did not detail any specifics of the extension) so coming into the season AD Candice Lee obviously felt confident in the 4th year as head coach. I am not sure his job at the moment is in serious jeopardy even if many fans want it to be, but losses like this are not very job-securing. I have highlighted before that when this team faces serious adversity, they have responded well so far this season, but this is going to be their biggest test to date. They will get the luxury of playing host Saturday (12 pm Ct, on SECN) to an Ole Miss team who has not had a very good season. This game will be watched closely as a measuring stick of just how bad the internal issues are and how much these players still believe in Coach Stackhouse.


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