There is little doubt that Vanderbilt will be the more talented team on the court. As you will see below, Vandy easily holds the advantage in all the tempo-free statistics. Vandy will also be the most efficient team offensively and defensively that the Hilltoppers have faced all season. Will it matter?
As Vandy fans are all too aware this season, talent will only take you so far. I haven't seen Western Kentucky play yet this season, but I would be willing to guarantee that they will play with the grit, determination, and intensity that it takes to win. Will Vandy come close to matching them in those categories tonight?
The Commodore Faithful are living and dying with every shot, every pass, every rebound and every steal. Our lone wish at this juncture in the season is that the players begin to as well. We know they are capable of it--we've seen the flashes of brilliance. It's about time for their light to shine. I want them to play like this game is their last.
Here is the breakdown of all these numbers (all taken from Ken Pomeroy):
The only key to the game should be that they play for each other. That's all that's missing.
Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky will face off in the nightcap of the 2009 Sun Belt Classic at the Nashville Arena this Friday night at 8:30 p.m. The game will follow the Tennessee-Middle Tennessee State game, which begins at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on CSS, and the action can also be heard live on the Vanderbilt-ISP Radio Network and vucommodores.com, with Joe Fisher andcourtside calling all of the action.
Friday's game is the first match-up between the two programs since 2001, and just the fifth in the last 43 years. While WKU is seeking to snap a 10-game losing streak to Vanderbilt (dating back to 1946), three of the last four meetings have been decided by five points or less.
Certainly, Vanderbilt needs to play better defense and do a better job on the boards, but I think a better showing on offense would make a lot of fans (myself included) feel a lot better.
When asked if those situations were a matter of guys not recovering on their man after helping off, Stallings offered this answer: "It was a matter of some guys just not trying hard enough, unfortunately," he said. "There is no recovery for ... there is no help-side for lack of effort. "We just had a serious lack of effort in some spots. Not in every spot. We had some guys tried really hard. We just had some guys who didn't." That's sounding the alarm for the Western Kentucky game at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Sommet Center, the second half of a doubleheader in the Sun Belt Classic. Tennessee and MTSU play at 6. WKU, a Sweet 16 team in 2008 and a second-round tournament team last spring, is off to a bit of a sluggish start despite a 4-3 record. But it's a group Stallings holds in high regard. "Athletic. Good. Really good rebounding team," he said of WKU. "Well-coached. Play hard. Good defensively. The makings of a team that got into the tournament last year and made noise and won games and beat high-ranked opponents. They are a talented team."
It’s a bit of a challenge for John Jenkins to run and jump right now. Even so, don’t expect him to sit."It’s bothering me pretty bad, but I knew I had to fight for my team the other night," Jenkins said. "I couldn’t show any weakness or pain so I went out there and played pretty hard on it. It’s pretty sore, but I’m going to keep fighting through it." "He practiced (Wednesday) and practiced well," coach Kevin Stallings said Thursday afternoon. "I think he’s still less than 100 percent, but he’s actually showing some grit and toughness. "I don’t know that I want to call it inspiring, but it’s been pleasing for sure."
Senior guard A.J. Slaughter leads a Western Kentucky team that has struggled from the field (.413), the 3-point line (.290) and the foul line (.633) in the early going. But the Hilltoppers have a way of getting things in order by March. The last two seasons they have more NCAA Tournament wins (three) than Tennessee and Vanderbilt combined.