There wasn’t really a ton to complain about in Vanderbilt’s 92-79 win over Winthrop to open the regular season, but there are a few things to nitpick.
For one thing, Winthrop managed to shoot 24-of-44 inside the arc — that the Eagles still had a 46.3 percent effective field goal percentage was a reflection of the fact that they couldn’t hit anything from outside. The latter tends to be much more variable and less influenced by the defense. (Ken Pomeroy’s work suggests that defenses can exert some influence on the number of three-point attempts but can’t really do much about the percentage, so banking on every opponent shooting 21 percent from three isn’t a great idea.) For another, the Eagles grabbed 13 offensive rebounds. Those aren’t awful numbers by any stretch, but against a team with one player taller than 6’6”, they’re a little troubling.
Some of that may eventually correct itself. There’s no particular reason why Vanderbilt shouldn’t be able to keep opponents off the glass or defend the paint, though the Commodores are a little thin in the rim-protection department: the Commodores blocked seven shots in the opener, but three of those were courtesy of Darius Garland and Matt Ryan. For all that he is, Simi Shittu isn’t really a rim protector, and Clevon Brown won’t play much more than 15-20 minutes a game unless his offense improves significantly.
The other nitpick is that 30 of Vanderbilt’s 63 field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, which is weird in light of the fact that the Commodores went 24-of-33 inside the arc and 10-of-30 beyond it. Unlike in years past, Vanderbilt actually has a bunch of guys who can attack the basket.
Still, there really wasn’t a lot to complain about. This was a 79-possession game, so Winthrop scoring 79 points isn’t all that worrying.
Not really much to point out about the starting five. Darius Garland and Simi Shittu are already the team’s two best players in their first game, but we already knew that.
The depth, though, well... Clevon Brown is a nice defender and had a decent offensive night in the opener. It would be great if he could improve on the offensive end to the point that he can be on the floor 20 minutes a game. I think Aaron Nesmith will get better as the season goes on, but he didn’t do much in his first game other than a four-point play.
But with only nine scholarship players available with Ejike Obinna redshirting, well... we’d better pray that no one gets hurt.
Vanderbilt visits USC (the real USC, not the pretend USC who will be on the SEC schedule) on Sunday. That game will be on the Pac-12 Network, which you probably don’t get. Sorry.