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South Carolina 71, Vanderbilt 60: Transition years suck

Hoo boy, we’re going to be lucky to crack .500 this year.

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NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

VUCommodores: South Carolina outlasts MBB, 71-60

Tennessean: Vanderbilt basketball sees game with South Carolina slip away in second half

The State: Gamecocks use unusual formula to earn 1st SEC win of the season

Transitioning from one coach to a new coach is a painful process, and the transition year doesn’t always happen in the first year. If NCAA Tournament seeding is your guide, Vanderbilt actually fielded a better team in Bryce Drew’s first year than it had in Kevin Stallings’ last year; but last year’s team, for all intents and purposes, was still Kevin Stallings’ team. Every single player on the active roster last season had been recruited to Vanderbilt by Stallings. You can argue that Clevon Brown and Payton Willis were re-recruited by Drew, but they were Stallings recruits.

This year, though, is a different story. Drew’s recruits are on the team, and while I think Saben Lee and Maxwell Evans and Ejike Obinna will be good players in time (hell, Lee already is), the negative here is that Lee and Evans are joining Jeff Roberson, Riley LaChance, and Matthew Fisher-Davis in the rotation.

This isn’t meant as a slight at any of them, but I doubt Bryce Drew would have recruited any of those if he’d been the coach at the time — and I doubt that Kevin Stallings would have recruited Lee or Evans. Drew has gotten most of the holdovers to buy in on the defensive end, but the offense just isn’t clicking.

So maybe this is going to be a lost year. Vanderbilt could still get it together and threaten to finish with a .500 record, but right now this looks like a team that will finish around 12-19. That’s not good, but then Mike Krzyzewski went 10-17 in his second year at Duke (and he inherited a program that was coming off a 24-9 season!)

Individual Stats

Saben Lee 31 6 11 3 5 2 4 0 2 2 5 17 2 3 0 1 20.3 0.65
Djery Baptiste 24 3 7 0 0 4 5 1 4 5 5 10 0 0 0 3 20.1 0.84
Matthew Fisher-Davis 27 4 11 2 6 2 2 1 4 5 1 12 2 3 4 0 19.6 0.73
Jeff Roberson 33 2 6 1 5 4 6 2 7 9 4 9 3 3 0 1 15.5 0.47
Payton Willis 16 2 6 0 3 0 0 1 2 3 2 4 1 1 0 1 4.1 0.26
Maxwell Evans 23 1 4 1 3 2 2 3 1 4 4 5 0 4 0 1 0.9 0.04
Larry Austin Jr. 0.02 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.00
Joe Toye 9 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 -3.4 -0.38
Riley LaChance 25 1 5 1 5 0 0 1 0 1 5 3 2 3 0 0 -6.8 -0.27
Clevon Brown 12 0 3 0 2 0 1 0 2 2 4 0 0 1 0 0 -10.3 -0.86
  • Going with the positives first: this was the second game in a row that Djery Baptiste was effective, and he was even out of foul trouble for much of the game (while he fouled out, he didn’t pick up his second foul until there were seven minutes left in the game.) We’re grading on a bit of a curve, obviously, but this is some nice progress.
  • Oh yeah, and Saben Lee scored in double figures for the fourth game in a row, after doing that three times in the first eleven games.
  • Matthew Fisher-Davis and Jeff Roberson were fine, I guess. They weren’t getting shots to fall (nobody was, really), but at least they weren’t actively hurting the team. Unlike some people.
  • I generally like what I’m seeing from Max Evans, but so far the numbers aren’t really backing up what I’m seeing. He’s not hurting the team, but the stats say he’s not really helping either. We’ll see which starts to catch up with which — sometimes, like with a guy we’ll get to in a minute, the performance gets visibly worse the longer the numbers continue to be bad.
  • That said, most of the time I can’t really make an argument for Evans to be playing ahead of Payton Willis.
  • Larry Austin Jr. played exactly one second according to the Gamebook, and he actually made only the fourth-fewest contributions to the team last night.
  • Of the three guys with negative Game Scores, Joe Toye has been here for a while, and this is who I was referencing above: for most of his first two years at Vanderbilt, Toye’s actual performance didn’t really match the skill set he displayed to the naked eye, and this year the skill set he displays to the naked eye seems to be matching the statistics (bad; I’m shocked none of our commenters has created a GIF of that missed dunk from the Houston Baptist game.)
  • Toye was better than Riley LaChance, though some of that just had to do with playing time: LaChance was playing 25 minutes and doing little to help the cause. He still didn’t post the worst performance on the team, though.
  • Clevon Brown... just, ugh. That almost completely erases whatever good mojo Djery Baptiste brought.

What’s Next

A team from three hours to the east that wears a hideous shade of orange will pay a visit to Memorial Gym on Tuesday night. No, I won’t name them, but I can tell you that the game will be televised at 8:00 PM CT on the SEC Network.