It’s hard to imagine that the unofficial start of the Jerry Stackhouse era could have gone better than it did.
Vanderbilt clobbered Clark Atlanta, 95-55, in front of 8,975 fans at Memorial Gym last night. It wasn’t televised, it doesn’t count in the standings, and Clark Atlanta is a Division II team (and not a particularly good one; the Panthers went 14-12 last season.) But the alternative would have been a lot worse.
It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from an exhibition game. Vanderbilt’s starters were Scotty Pippen Jr., Maxwell Evans, Aaron Nesmith, Matthew Moyer, and Oton Jankovic. Not included in that group: Saben Lee, though he played 22 minutes (three more than nominal starter Evans.) Lee also led the team in scoring with 19 points; Nesmith had 17, and Pippen had 15 (to go with 6 assists and 4 steals.)
Clevon Brown didn’t play, presumably because of injury, and Ejike Obinna played just eight minutes — and fouled out. Freshman Dylan Disu did have four blocks in 18 minutes of action, and Brown should provide some defensive presence down low.
I’m actually starting to get excited, and not just because the season is getting closer (the official start to the season is on Wednesday, against Southeast Missouri State.) I think I’m starting to get on board with the idea that this team won’t be terrible. It’s still probably the worst team in the SEC, but it should win a few games, and if it can pile up enough wins out of conference it might even finish over .500. That would be real progress. We’ll see starting on Wednesday, but at least there are some positive signs.
The Week in AoG
The week started with a load of stupidity, with a rumor that former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is a potential candidate for the not-currently-open Vanderbilt head coaching job. (This rumor was quickly shot down by Malcolm Turner on a podcast with the Hustler, by the way.)
Shawn previewed South Carolina’s offense and I previewed its defense. Derek Mason had a press conference, Shawn posted about beer, and we all gave our predictions for the game. We also picked the rest of the SEC games against the spread.
There really isn’t a ton to like about the early window of games. FOX has run with the idea of putting a big game in the early slot, but this week, they have Nebraska-Purdue. ABC has Michigan-Maryland, ESPN has NC State-Wake Forest — and those are the big games. The SEC Network has UTSA at Texas A&M. You guys really should take parlagi up on his offer to watch the NAIA game between Grand View and Graceland. This week, that might actually be the most interesting game on. At noon, ESPN+ has Northern Iowa at Illinois State, which, why not? And at 1:30, Virginia Tech at Notre Dame is on NBC.
Somehow, at 2:30, Florida-Georgia is of course on CBS, while ABC has Miami-Florida State. One of these games is far more appealing than the other. If you’re not interested in the SEC (which also has Mississippi State-Arkansas at 3:00 on the SEC Network), well, TCU-Oklahoma State is on ESPN, Kansas State-Kansas is on FS1, Rutgers-Illinois is on the Big Ten Network, and the NFL Network is evidently showing what’s basically the opposite of an NFL game (UTEP-North Texas.) At 3, Washington hosts Utah on FOX and Tulsa is at Tulane on ESPN2.
And at 4, may I throw in a word for the Division II matchup between West Texas A&M and Texas A&M-Commerce, which were formerly known as West Texas State and East Texas State. Why they changed I will never know.
Of course, in the evening, we’ll all be watching Vanderbilt-South Carolina, but if you want to flip over to watch Tennessee try to not lose to 6-1 UAB (6:00 PM, ESPNU), this is also acceptable. And maybe flip over to SMU-Memphis (6:30 PM, ABC) and then come back for the late shift of BYU-Utah State (9:00 PM, ESPN2), Boise State-San Jose State (9:30 PM, CBSSN), and New Mexico-Nevada (9:30 PM, ESPNU.)
Have fun, and Anchor Down.