In 1992-93, Eddie Fogler’s team lost their second game of the season to Illinois by 16 points and ended the season with an SEC regular-season title. 2006-07 started 1-3 with a loss to Furman; that season ended in the Sweet 16.
It’s tempting to read a lot into early-season games; after all, right now Friday night’s game is the only data point we have on the 2016-17 Vanderbilt team. That’s especially true when a new coach is involved (see also: Mason, Derek), but without any more data, we don’t know if Friday represented the low point of the season or if this is just how it’s going to be. Also, importantly, we don’t actually know how good Marquette is.
Still, we probably could have guessed that point guard play was going to be a problem for this team. If that wasn’t apparent from the fact that Bryce Drew has added three point guards (if we’re counting Max Evans as a point guard) since taking the job, a 24.4% turnover rate in the first game of the season is a pretty strong indicator. An astute Twitter commenter pointed out that Drew’s Valpo offenses relied a lot on having a point guard to create and that just isn’t present on this year’s Vanderbilt team.
In any case, you’re not going to win many games when the other team has an effective field goal percentage of 61.5%. Yeah, Marquette was hitting basically everything, but a less-hot shooting night for the Golden Eagles probably means we lose by 10 instead of 24; with the way the game was going, there’s probably no universe in which Vanderbilt would have actually won. Just put this game in the back of your minds and move on to Belmont.
- Matthew Fisher-Davis averaged 0.8 turnovers a game last year, and Jeff Roberson averaged 1.1. Now, both of them are probably going to play a bigger role in the offense than they did last year, but the fact that they combined for nine turnovers suggests that the problems we saw with turnovers are fixable.
- On the other hand, I really don’t know how I feel about Nolan Cressler taking eight shots and committing three turnovers in 19 minutes.
- Luke Kornet and Djery Baptiste combined to play 32 minutes, and honestly, that number needs to be closer to 40. Baptiste being in foul trouble is probably something we’re just going to have to live with this season, but if Luke’s getting the Damian Jones treatment this team is going to be playing small a lot.
- I’m fine with that kind of performance from Riley LaChance and Joe Toye. I think Toye should probably be playing a bigger role than this, and we may see that as the year goes on.
- The two true freshmen were fine. Clevon Brown really could develop into something special, and Payton Willis showed an impressive ability to get to the foul line (though actually making his free throws? Yeah, we need to work on that.)
- Camron Justice... existed. I don’t really have much else to say.
Anyway, the Commodores will be back in action on Tuesday night when Belmont makes the half-mile or so trip to Memorial Gym. Tipoff will be at 8 PM on the SEC Network. Belmont’s usually a pretty good team, so Vanderbilt will just have to forget about this game and move on.