The Vanderbilt Commodores huffed and puffed over the weekend on their way to an 84-66 defeat at the hands of Florida.
By Steve Wright
Next up for the ‘Dores is a clash with Tennessee in Knoxville. Here are the three keys to this rivalry matchup:
Forget the Florida game
The Commodores have been playing better of late but whenever a team is below the strength of the rest of the conference in terms of talent there is always the possibility that a game where they are blown out is just around the corner. That is exactly what happened here as the ‘Dores shot 46.9% to the Gators 61.50% in terms of FG% and were generally just outplayed by a better team.
The 48-19 score at halftime shows what happened when this team doesn’t make its three-point shots, with the ‘Dores only getting back to looking semi-competent on the scoreboard thanks to hitting eight treys in the second half. Vanderbilt just needs to forget this game happened and move on to Tennessee, putting it down to a bad day at the office.
Play with the fire of Jerry Stackhouse
It is interesting to watch Stackhouse and how he coaches this under-strength Vandy team. Near the end of the first half, Stackhouse watched as Matthew Moyer went up for a shot and was fouled by Scottie Lewis in such a way that Moyer looked to have dislocated his shoulder. The foul – which left the ‘Dores with seven scholarship players available for the rest of the game – was never called. This did not make coach Stackhouse happy at all.
Stackhouse went off on the officials – justifiably so – and he was rewarded with a pair of technical fouls and an ejection. In a game where his players just weren’t at the races, Stackhouse showed the fire and passion that a fanbase needs to see. If the players can tap into that source – as they have at times this season – then there is a win left in this squad down the stretch.
Keep Tennessee out of the paint
The Vols saw their NCAA Tournament chances essentially fall by the wayside over the weekend as they lost to South Carolina in a game that they led with five minutes remaining. The Vols problem was an over-reliance on shooting the three-point shot, something that has been an issue for the team all year long. When the Vols are hot from three they can do some damage, but this is a streaky team that has more off nights than on from downtown. The ‘Dores have a well-established issue with inside play defensively, but if they can force the Vols to take contested jump shots from outside then they can force enough misses to stay in this game.