Brad Tinsley and John Jenkins - The Two-Headed Monster?

Only a mere 11 days ago, it looked like Brad Tinsley was going to shoot his way out of the starting lineup. Tinsley's season-long slump bottomed out after an 0-6 shooting performance in 19 minutes against Florida. This same game showcased freshman John Jenkins's talents, and marked his arrival as a bona fide SEC-caliber player. With one player dropping and the other rising steadily, it seemed to reason that Jenkins would soon usurp Tinsley's role in the starting five.

Only that hasn't been the case. While Jenkins has continued his hot shooting, Tinsley returned to the court playing smartly and impacting the game in many different aspects.  By their powers combined, the Tinsley/Jenkins team has created a veritable offensive Captain Planet in the Commodore backcourt. Jenkins has filled the role of impact shooter, while Tinsley has taken care of the ball and helped initiate the offense. Against Alabama they played a nearly mistake-free game (free throws excluded).  Against South Carolina, their athleticism filled up the stat sheet in the glue-guy role usually reserved for Andre Walker. Here is their combined per-game average against 'Bama and SC:

 

Min

 

 

 

FG Pct

 

 

 

3-PT Pct

 

 

 

FT Pct

 

 

 

Reb

 

Ast

TO

Stl

Blk

PF

PPG

 

48

 

 

 

54.2

 

 

 

50.0

 

 

 

57.1

 

 

 

5.5

 

4.5

2.5

0

1

2

18

Adjusted for 40 mins, this averages out to 15 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists per game. These are very solid positional averages at the team's fourth offensive option -- though Tinsley puts up the bulk of assists and rebounds between the two. More importantly, the team won these games in positions where the 2008-2009 Commodores would have probably slipped up.  

Conversely, one disturbing trend sticks out from these games - standout scorers in the opposing backcourts. Mikhail Torrence and Dewan Downey absolutely lit the 'Dores up, scoring 23 and 35 points, respectively.  In each case, these players shot over 57% and had assist-to-turnover ratios of 2:1.  While the other guards on the court had been contained, both games saw one player rise up out of the 1/2 positions to nearly lead their team to victory.  This could be a big problem against teams with more balanced lineups and better guards (see Kentucky and John Wall, Ole Miss with Chris Warren, Mississippi St. with Bost/Johnson/Steward, and Tennessee with Scotty Hopson).  

Though some of the blame for these opposing guard outbursts falls on Jermaine Beal, it's clear that Tinsley and Jenkins have a ways to go on the defensive end.  Fortunately, the duo is both young and athletic, and they have shown themselves to be capable of picking up defensive schemes before Coach Stallings screams himself into unconsciousness.  The past two games have given Vanderbilt fans a bigger comfort zone for the slot between Beal and Jeffrey Taylor on the court.  If they can keep it up, it could mean the difference between a bye at the SEC tournament and a dangerous trap game against someone like Auburn.

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