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Progress Review: Lance Goulbourne

Lance Goulbourne is in a tough spot with the Commodores. Thanks to being in the same class as Jeffery Taylor and having the same remaining years of eligibility as Andre Walker, it's possible that he'll never be a regular starter for Vanderbilt. However, the lithe forward has been able to make an impact in his limited minutes through being a classic Kevin Stallings style player, combining size with a solid three point stroke.

After a freshman year that suggested some solid growth on top of a wealth of potential, Goulbourne provided a mostly inconsistent 2009-2010. He was hampered by a stress reaction towards the end of the year, but prior to this injury was losing playing time at power forward to an emerging Steve Tchiengang. His season was filled with some high points, but many negative performances cast a pall over his sophomore campaign. Goulbourne's shooting and rebounding all declined, and the player who was supposed to be a major piece of the Commodore rotation too often found himself in foul trouble despite limited minutes. By the end of the season, Tchiengang had passed his more hyped counterpart in the pecking order of bench players for the 'Dores.

While the big New Yorker won't be expected to have a major impact in his junior season, he'll likely be counted on as the team's sixth man. However, he'll have some new pressure competing for minutes at the three, with recruit Rod Odom arriving in the fall to push for a rotation spot. This will give the 'Dores three hybrid 3/4 forwards on the season, and minutes will be tight - hopefully tight enough to spur some serious competition and raise the play of all three big men for the season.

Observational: Goulbourne's freshman campaign suggested that he would be in line for more minutes as a sophomore and possibly compete with Andre Walker for a starting spot in a small-ball lineup. However, the season didn't play out that way. The forward didn't take anything away from the team when he stepped on the court, but he didn't add much. Except for a stellar game against LSU, Goulbourne never hit a rhythm or showed enough to earn sustained minutes.

Inconsistency seemed to be the most consistent aspect of Goulbourne's offense. His three point shooting dipped from interesting to awful despite having lots of open looks on the perimeter. In the paint, he was often in terrible position to grab rebounds and was prone to allowing his aggression create stupid fouls while careening for missed shots. Goulbourne also had trouble finding layups and easy shots, and as a result often forced shots - which forced his scoring to drop as well.

On the positive side, LG's defense seemed to ratchet up in both effectiveness and intensity. The mix of his size and Jeffery Taylor's athleticism gave the Commodores a two headed attack against opposing swingmen. While he doesn't have the lateral quickness to pick up tons of steals and disrupt ballhandlers, his jumping abilities made him a solid shot-blocker - a lineup with him, A.J. Ogilvy, and Festus Ezeli would be mostly agonizing to watch on offense, but be an awesome display for fans who enjoy seeing shots blocked into the first few rows of Memorial Gym.

Statistically Speaking: Goulbourne's 2009-2010 showed a marked decline from his freshman year in almost every major category. The only areas in which he improved were his ball distribution and ability to get to the free throw line - though the getting to the line may have more to do with his inability to create his own shot and a greater number of contested shots (and easier-to-call fouls) as a result.

2008-2009 23 325 42 89 22 31 11 31 117 21 54 75 7 25 10 12 25
2009-2010 31 398 29 74 34 50 10 36 102 17 47 64 16 29 5 17 46

Goulbourne had seven fewer defensive rebounds in 2010 despite playing eight fewer games - and 73 fewer minutes. This testifies to the scourge of Vanderbilt's season - failing to secure missed shots and allowing second chances on defense. He also attempted fewer overall shots but more three-pointers - despite shooting a much lower percentage:

Lance Goulbourne FG% FT% 3P%
2008-2009 47.2% 71.0% 35.5%
2009-2010 39.2% 68.0% 27.8%

Unlike Brad Tinsley and John Jenkins, Goulbourne doesn't really have a defining moment in which his season shifted - excepting possibly his breakout game against LSU. In fact, his numbers remain relatively static throughout. Let's look at his out-of-conference (OOC), SEC, and postseason numbers over the season.

2009 OOC *11-3 12.0 1.4 50.0% 1.9 69.2% 0.5 42.9% 2.9 0.5 1.9 2.4 0.8 1.4 0.2 0.6 1.4
2010 SEC *11-3 13.7 3.2 35.6% 1.5 71.4% 1.7 25.0% 3.8 0.7 1.1 1.9 0.3 0.6 0.1 0.6 1.6
2010 Post-season *1-2 12.7 3.0 33.3% 1.0 33.3% 1.7 20.0% 2.7 0.0 1.3 1.3 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.3 1.0

Statistically, Goulbourne did most of his damage against non-SEC teams. Once league play ratcheted up, his shooting, rebounding, and assist numbers all fell. Despite the slump, he shot more and got to the line less, dropping his overall effectiveness as the season wore on. While Goulbourne's 2009 season gave fans confidence when he stepped onto the court, his 2010 put that standing on shaky ground.

Progression, Regression, or Static: Regression. Goulbourne clearly didn't play as well as the season wore on, and the statistics bear that out. Perhaps some of the problems can be related to the stress reaction in his left foot, but it's clear that the forward didn't bring much to the Commodores offense while he was on the court late in 2010. His tough defense and length at the 3 kept him active in the rotation, but his poor rebounding was part of the fatal flaw that ended up dooming Vanderbilt.

Unfortunately for Goulbourne, the indelible image of Danero Thomas shooting his last-second shot past LG's outstretched hand will be most fans lasting memory of his sophomore year. He's still a very valuable member of this team, and should have a very good chance to bring another SEC Sixth Man of the Year trophy to Nashville in 2011, but he'll have to get past the shooting woes and inefficient play that haunted his sophomore year. Though he's a classic "tweener" at the SF/PF positions, he still has the size and athletic ability to make a big impact in the SEC. If he can increase his lateral speed while maintaining (or increasing) his size, he could be a matchup nightmare for opposing conference coaches.