The Vanderbilt Vendidad

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Ruminative Tendencies: Vanderbilt v. Murray State

A lot of the other bloggers are putting up their thoughts on yesterday’s defeat, a bit of emotional exhibitionism that I just can’t resist.

I realized, after the Mississippi State loss, that the wind was entirely out of my sails. I tried (and, more or less, succeeded) in summoning a small breeze through relentless youtubing of great Vanderbilt moments.

I tried to think positively, especially about AJ Ogilvy, whose twitter feed I really need to unfollow, lest I continue making connections between his choices in music (exclusively terrible whiny pop-punk) and movies (Beauty and the Beast), and his post play.

I forgive Ogilvy any errors for many reasons:

  1. He was not the biggest let-down in the Murray State game.
  2. He seems like a very sensitive guy.
  3. Bashing on college kids, though my natural tendency, is not cool, unless they have proven themselves to be morally corrupt people.

Now, unfortunately, I have one person who, I think, can be blamed for both losses, and, if you must, bashed a bit for them:

Kevin Stallings

Gasp!

Now. Before you jump on me (or Stallings) consider this:

  • Stallings is my favorite coach in the world, and I don’t want anyone else at the helm, ever, unless, perhaps, Stallings voluntarily leaves for Purdue and UNC boots Roy Williams.
  • I am blaming Stallings for the final two losses of the 2010 season. I would also readily blame Stallings for every win of the 2010 season.
  • Kevin Stallings is the man.

Both of those final losses were poorly coached. In both games, we had significant advantages that we failed to exploit through our game plan. Keeping Beal out of most of the Miss State game? Putting Jenkins in the post? Having Goulbourne defending the final shot of the Murray State game? Keeping AJ on the bench? PRESSING? AGAINST A TEAM OF GUARDS? I fall quite short of a basketball wonk (which explains why the Vendidad is a mostly bad-photoshop-based blog), but for both of those games, I struggled to find moments where the person I wanted with the ball had the ball.

It was uncharacteristic of Stallings, so I’d rather not draw any conclusions. It’s just something I noticed. On to the next issue:

This team has had a leadership issue all year. Our athletic leaders—Beal, Taylor, and Ogilvy—have struggled to fill that void, which is not entirely anyone’s fault. In all my interactions with Beal, I’ve found him to be quiet; in games, he rarely got vocal and emotional on the court. Taylor, too, seems to be an incredibly gifted player, but not much of a commander or emotional leader. And Ogilvy, despite his penchant for double technicals, rarely seems to be at the helm.

But the man who is paid quite a bit of money to be this team’s leader, Kevin Stallings, must be held accountable, on some level, for this issue.

In early games, The team would come out flat and discombobulated, only to put together some incredible second halves. Late in the season, the second halves dropped off. I have to think that Stallings, in some way, isn’t motivating the team the way some coaches do.

Part of that is what I love about Kevin Stallings: he’s a nuts-and-bolts, blue-collar coach. He’s not interested in loudmouths or thugs on his team, and he’s not interested in stirring controversy or getting infractions. He just loves the game of basketball, and for the most part, his coaching style shows that. Consider the Stallings time-out style: always reluctant to call time outs to “cool off” the other team, never reluctant to use a time-out to make mechanical adjustments. The prior shows a belief in biorhythms and mild superstition. The latter shows a belief in schemes, matchups, mechanics.

It’s that non-flashy, tried-and-true methodology that I love about Stallings. So I don’t really want him to change his style.

But this team was a perfect reflection of that style: impressive on paper, but often flat, disinterested, and cold, unprepared for a hot little team to put our pants on the ground. It’s how we played in every one of our losses (save UK, which was a bad shooting night, plain and simple), no matter the stakes.

So for “NEXT YEAR” to be the “NEXT YEAR” we’re all dreaming of, Stallings needs to look through his personnel and find an emotional leader. Steve Tchiengang plays with heart, but he isn’t enough of an athletic leader to rally these troops. John Jenkins, perhaps, could have the mix of voice, skill, and emotion to lead the team, but he still feels young to me.

Let me know your thoughts. Who’s it gonna be?

19 March 2010 coping mechanisms Vanderbilt basketball

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Just doing my part. Off to Sam’s. Let’s do this.

18 March 2010 Kevin Stallings Vanderbilt basketball Murray State March Madness

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Uncomfortably warm pendant light fixture on: John Jenkins

I get the occasional email or tweet asking me where I’ve gone. But I have received zero (0) tweets or emails inquiring as to how a fan might donate money to the Vendidad.

Entitlement.

I thought I would ramble a few thoughts off regarding tonight’s sung hero, John Jenkins (unsung: Steve Tchiengang, for being able to draw fouls and hang onto rebounds).

Jenkins was unquestionably the most highly anticipated recruit in Vanderbilt history, the bonus check on last year’s “experience” salary. Jenkins hasn’t matched his High School numbers (40+ points/game), but that’s been a good thing.

Vanderbilt has never been a “stop by on your way to the NBA school,” and I would never want us to be. Let’s consider our neighbors to the North, an admittedly good basketball team with an oft-overlooked university attached.

Jenkins has proven himself a team-player with star potential, and not the other way around, and while he could explode into the NBA any season, I look forward to having him here at least another year.

But here’s the awesome thing about John Jenkins:

The guy is as big of a Vanderbilt fan as me.

When Vanderbilt was rallying against Georgia, Jenkins looked too amped-up to focus on the game. He always takes more time to greet the rest of the students after the game. He goes insane when things are going well, and while this could be said of almost any college player, there’s a very visible insanity behind his eyes.

It’s not a celebration of “Hooray, our hard work and team bonding is paying off!”

It’s a celebration of “COME, YE COSMOS! COME AND TRY TO CRUSH WHAT WE HAVE BUILT!”

It’s the savvy, gut-wrenching, paranoid, angry, near-schizoid celebration of a Vanderbilt fan.

Jenkins: We know you love Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt loves you.

Great game tonight.

Spirit animal: MONGOOSE

3 March 2010 Vanderbilt Basketball spirit animal john jenkins

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Ol’ fashioned beatdown.

16 January 2010 Vanderbilt Basketball South Carolina

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Another gem from faithful reader Brian Ward.

"Jeffery Taylor could probably jump over Bob Huggins."

23 November 2009 Jeffery Taylor Vanderbilt Basketball

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Clair{V}oyance: Vanderbilt vs. St. Mary’s

A message from the absurd amount of Australians to be playing tonight.

Good day. Good game day. Here are my thoughts:

It’s hard to go against my gut, which is telling me that “Mary” is a girl’s name, and girls are not a threat (except for makeouts; am I right fellas?). But my gut is also very hungry.

So rather than giving a full game breakdown and prediction, which is being done all around the media by people far more qualified and knowledgeable than me (to be discussed later this afternoon), I will instead make specific predictions about Vanderbilt players. Here they are:

Jermaine “Dolla” Beal: Beal will make all of his free throws. He will also shoot 5-8 from beyond the arc, and finish with double-digit assists. He will only commit two turnovers. He will have one highlight-worthy drive to the basket. He will not dance afterwards.

Jeffery “The Rocketeer” Taylor: Expect at least two (2) topical “balloon boy” analogies in postgame writeups, because Taylor will be jumping very high tonight, and Moraga, California is the topical humor capital of the West Coast. Taylor’s stats will finally catch up with his highlight reel. Expect 25 points, at least. He will unfortunately miss three free throws.

"Fun" Festus Ezeli: When it comes to Festus and shot-blocking, the question is not “if,” but “will any of the basketballs explode?” Here’s your answer: yes, but not how you expect.

A.J. “All Jamz” Ogilvy: This will be a very interesting night for Ogilvy indeed. Ogilvy seems to be in the process of shaking the rust off after a preseason interrupted with a concussion. As a result of that concussion, combined with the fact that five (5) of St. Mary’s players are fellow Aussies, Ogilvy will spend much of his time in the post yelling Australian trash talk: “Oy! Should’ve worn yah budgie smugglers, you might find a bondi cigar (“cigah”) in ‘em! You don’t know Christmas from Bourke Street, mate!” In a fit of what anthropologists call “Aussie Rage,” he’ll score impressively. Look for four (4) dunks and one bucket from beyond the arc, filled out with impressive post play. This performance will be marred, however, by several sloppy errors, several missed free throws, and a superfluous conversation with a referee about Olivia Newton-John. All six Australians will have to be asked to change out of khaki shorts before the game, and will stop the game for thirty minutes in the first half to go play sand volleyball. Lance Goulbourne will join them.

Brad “The Quiet Storm” Tinsley: Expect a quieter scoring night from Tinsley, a gifted, but skittish shooter. He’ll score 10, (two threes, a layup, and two of three free throws). A close analysis of the game, however, will lead to the undeniable conclusion that bad things just don’t seem to happen when he’s in the game.

Andre “Temperature” Walker: At the unveiling of his new Sean Paul-inspired nickname, walker will post a triple-double (12 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists).

Lance “[Monster Mash voice] Gho-o-u-l”bourne: No one will understand why, and there will be no video evidence of how it happened, but Lance Goulbourne will score 11 points and grab 6 rebounds in only 3 minutes of play, his PT cut short as punishment for joining in the sand volleyball game. Stallings will explain that he expected it from AJ, but Lance should know better.

John “Just John For Now” Jenkins: Many people expect Jenkins to light it up from beyond the arc, but I just don’t think he will. He will be a respectable 4-5 from beyond the arc, but his powers will be much diminished as he travels further from Tennessee, an affliction that similarly affects Lamar Alexander and the Dixie Chicks.

Steve “100 Proof” Tchiengang: 5 rebounds, 4 fouls, 3 blocks, 2 points, 1 shattered backboard.

There you go. I’ll end with a fun fact: Did you know that the “Mary” in “St. Mary’s” is actually not the Virgin Mary, but Mary J. Blige?

20 November 2009 Vanderbilt Basketball Jeffery Taylor Brad Tinsley Festus Ezeli Andre Walker AJ Ogilvy Jermaine Beal Lance Goulbourne John Jenkins Steve Tchiengang

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Courtesy of reader Brian Ward:

It’s all yours, in honor of tomorrow’s game against the Gaels! 
"Jeffery Taylor could probably jump over Gael García Bernal as a young Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries"
Is this an acceptable Item Jeffery Taylor Can Jump Over?

  • Tall-but-not-too-tall item? Check.
  • Obscure-but-not-too-obscure cultural reference? Check.
  • Jeffery Taylor, doing what he do? Check.
Mr. Ward, I do believe you’ve cracked the code. And it’s opponent-themed-but-not-too-opponent themed! +1!

20 November 2009 Vendidad Fan Art Jeffery Taylor Vanderbilt Basketball

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Weekly Item Jeffery Taylor Can Jump Over: Week of 11.18

This week’s item is:

A giant bowl of ice cream

Jeffery Taylor could probably jump over a giant bowl of ice cream.

18 November 2009 Jeffery Taylor Vanderbilt Basketball

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Dores look better than Lipscomb in season opener AND play better basketball

As the Lipscomb basketball team took the floor, a little girl sitting near me exclaimed, “Daddy look! They wear their hair like me! That means they’re going to lose!” Certainly, the Commodores won the pregame “ask the 9-year-old girl which team looks better” test and went on to pass some other relevant tests on their way to a dominant 95-73 season opening victory over the Lipscomb Bison.

Festus Ezeli blocked the visitors’ first shot of the game (just like he did against UAH), and that opening statement, along with A.J. Ogilvy's 3 blocks, was enough to scare the Bison from the paint for the rest of the night. Vandy outscored Lipscomb 46-28 inside and shot an effortless 58.9%. Jeffrey Taylor was Vanderbilt’s most impressive player with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 dunks. He was clearly the most athletic player on the court, getting to the rim easily and often.

The Bison’s Josh Slater put up 20 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 half-dunk. Slater drew the ire of the crowd by complaining a bit, drawing a questionable intentional foul, looking like Christian Slater, and being Lipscomb’s only effective player.

The game started with a flurry of pressure defense, dunks, outside shooting, and some quality jumbo-tron dance moves. Eight minutes into the game, the Dores already had 2 dunks, 4 3’s, and a 25-12 lead. Vanderbilt’s full-court press gave Lipscomb fits and directly caused 7 of the 23 Bison turnovers. Having their starting point guard, Johnny Lee, only play 12 ineffective minutes didn’t help their ball control issues.

Perhaps they should’ve subbed in the Vandy male cheerleader who got his hands on two loose balls and showed off his Globetrotter moves before getting scolded by a ref.

While I’m on the subject of cheerleaders, does Vandy really need 23 of them?! And if we’re going to have guy cheerleaders, could we have one that’s over 5’8”, or at least restrain their hair dye? When you add 13 dancers and Mr. C to the herd of cheerleaders, time-outs become a flash mob of flailing limbs, pompoms, and hot-or-not dancing. I suggest less cheerleader and more Kiss Cam.

Anyway, Vanderbilt never trailed, dominated the paint, and showed improvement in many areas. A.J. Ogilvy didn’t get into his game until late in the second half, but this year, he is looking more “marble statue” than last year’s “blob of vanilla pudding.” 13 and 9 is fine, but I’d rather have him at 20 and 15 against Lipscomb.

Festus is also looking excessively strong, and Andre Walker is looking like Sean Paul. John Jenkins seemed a bit timid making only 1 of his 5 3’s, but his reverse lay-up off a baseline drive was my vote for play of the game. Lance Goulbourne was and will be a quality sub for Taylor. Brad Tinsley and Jermaine Beal made outside shots, controlled the ball, and got to the rim when necessary on their way to double digits.

Steve Tchiengang put up a Skuchas line (Turnovers+Fouls > Points+Rebounds), but his only shot was an impressive power post move, and he didn’t miss either of his free throws.


The only issues I had with the Dores’ opening performance:
1. Too many open looks for an inferior team
2. Not attacking their zone off the dribble during Lipscomb’s run in the first half
3. Not finishing half-court sets with quality post play

Overall, it was a great start. The Dores are sure to provide entertaining basketball for the duration of this season, and I’m excited about their potential. With veteran ball control, quality post play, outside shooting, pressure defense, and young athleticism, this team has all the ingredients of a top 15 team.

We’ll know significantly more about this team after their trip out west to play in California and Hawaii, but their internal clocks will be so jacked up that I won’t hold any poor play against them (their next game starts at 10:30pm CST). However, I expect this team to be more about surprises than excuses.

17 November 2009 Fun with MS Paint Greg Lipscomb Vanderbilt Basketball

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Brad Tinsley could be this season’s biggest surprise.

16 November 2009 Vanderbilt Basketball Brad Tinsley

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