Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, one of the league's most tenured coaches, thinks the league's bounce back has been "probably a little better than medium." He admitted that some of the losses to smaller schools stick out. "Unless you're one of the undefeated teams, everybody it seems like has lost a game that they quote-unquote feel like shouldn't have lost," Stallings said. "I think most of us would tell you that we've probably dropped a game that we could've, should've won."
At Vandy, A.J. Ogilvy continues his steady decline averaging just 12 and 5 so far. The junior is more like an Aussie version of Woo (sans the huggable qualities) than the 1st round lock he was projected to be after his freshman season. The Dores really only have one bad loss (WKU) and they have the back court to stay in thick of things.
That’s why a loss against Florida on Saturday would be crippling. A loss to the Gators would make Vanderbilt play catch-up for the rest of league play. The goal has to be nine or 10 wins, and one of them needs to come against Florida.
The best way to do just that is to read my annual Hoop Thoughts Stock Report. The purpose of this exercise is not to determine the top teams in the country; that's what the polls are for. Rather, it's to predict what the conference season will reveal over the coming weeks. With conference play officially underway, teams will no longer be able to hide their deficiencies by paying lesser squads to travel to their home gyms and play games whistled by friendly referees. Over the next few weeks, we'll learn a lot more about who is worthy of high rankings and high praise, and who deserves to be demoted and pushed off the radar. The HTSR can tell you all of that when you need to know it -- before it happens.
tweetblasted Davis for his oversight. I joined in. At first, nothing came as was to be suspected. My brilliantly worded, 140 character intellectual dismissal didn't even register. Or so I thought. To my delight, he noticed.reviews 30 teams thus far and offers his "stock" advice. My incredulity that Vanderbilt was not among the 30 sent searing lava through my veins [FACT: My blood is 98% pure liquid magma. I'm hard like that]. Our friends at VSL
It is always interesting to see which fan base objects the most to being left out of the HTSR. This year's prize goes to Pittsburgh fans, who had the most to say through e-mail. Believe it or not, the most frequent complaint I got via Twitter was my omission of Vanderbilt. Who knew?
As for Vandy, here are two of the tweets that were sent to my account at SethDavisHoops:
From @VSLNation: why doesn't a 10-3 Vanderbilt team get any attention?
From @anchorofgold: @SethDavisHoops obviously isn't vetting his selections through KenPom. Vandy #23. Florida #47. Vandy dangerously below radar.
Vanderbilt (11-3, not ranked): SELL
Tennessee's woes present the Commodores with an opening in the SEC East, but even if they do a little better than expected in the conference, I still don't see this as a team that can make hay in the tournament. Kevin Stallings likes full-court pressure, but he doesn't have the personnel to pull it off. The Commodores are high on skill (A.J. Ogilvy) and agility (Jeffery Taylor), but they are low on toughness. That shows up at the defensive end, where Vandy ranks 10th in the SEC in steals and seventh in rebound margin. When Vandy lost to Cincinnati in Hawaii, they got outrebounded by 18. That's the kind of rugged team the Commodores will face in the NCAA tournament (presuming they get there). Vandy hasn't made much noise thus far, but to me this is not a stock on the rise.
[Note: Emphasis Mine]
Vanderbilt Sports Line offers their rebuttal.
There is ample bulletin-board material out there for the Commodore Locker Room. If I'm A.J., I'd have two of these posted in my locker next to the mirror where I admire the greatest work of human art since the sculpture of David. [Art History Fact: Michaelangelo originally intended to place a Rally 'Stache on the statue but decided against it as there were no words at the time that could properly describe it. The word "awesome" wasn't invented until the Twentieth Century.]
Since the Siena loss in the NCAA tournament in 2008, it's become "fashionable" among members of the college basketball media to label Vanderbilt as soft. It isn't Seth Davis' fault. He probably only saw Vandy play Cincinnati, and most likely read the summary of the Western Kentucky and Illinois games. Frankly, it's high time the team quashes this ridiculous notion. Questions of toughness must be met with brute force. The opportunity is calling, Saturday at 11am.