I’ve probably written enough about the ending of the Streak, so let’s talk about the actual game in which it happened. What really made the end of the Streak frustrating was that:
(1) it happened against UT, and
(2) it happened in a game that was totally winnable if Vanderbilt had been able to make baskets.
I do not think this can be emphasized enough: Outside of the shooting performance, Vanderbilt played well enough to win — or, at least, Tennessee played poorly enough to lose. The turnover rate wasn’t great, but it was somehow better than Tennessee’s. In terms of raw rebound margin, Tennessee won, but that was obviously influenced by the fact that a lot more of the missed shots were on Vanderbilt’s end, and that’s borne out by the offensive rebound percentages. And Vanderbilt was not only getting to the foul line at a healthy clip, they were making their free throws — 21 of 26, in fact. Oh yeah, and Tennessee only made one three-pointer, though they did shoot 25-of-41 inside the arc.
And none of this really matters, because Vanderbilt shot 0-for-25 from three-point range, not only ending the Streak, but killing any chance they had to win the game. All of this is bad. And now, we get into the team’s response.
I’m not going to say that the team intentionally allowed the Streak to end, because I have no evidence of this and that’s an incredibly bad accusation to make, but there is one potential positive specific to this edition of Vanderbilt basketball. Since Aaron Nesmith was lost to a stress fracture, Vanderbilt had attempted 75 three-pointers and made 10 of them. That’s 13.3 percent, which is very bad. (One thing I will point out here: if they were trying to end the Streak, why on earth were they attempting 25 threes?) Before the injury, Vanderbilt players not named Nesmith were shooting 33 percent from three. You can probably assume that even this team is going to shoot better than 13 percent, but even then, it’s probably not going to be a good three-point shooting team at any point from now until the end of the season. And it was a minor miracle that the Streak survived last season, when Vanderbilt shot 31.1 percent from three (a number, by the way, that dropped to 30.5 percent when you moved Darius Garland’s contribution to that percentage.)
In short, prior to last night, this was a poor three-point shooting team that was nonetheless attempting a ton of three-pointers. And while you might argue that making three-pointers is the only way for this team to have any hope of winning, you could also argue accurately that hoisting 25 threes a game is not the best idea with this roster.
Put differently, perhaps the fact that this team no longer has to worry about continuing the Streak will be liberating, in the sense that it means that it can now play more to its strengths. (Whatever the strengths of this team are, and there aren’t many, three-point shooting is decidedly not one of them.)
(DISCLAIMER: None of this is intended to be a statement that I am glad that The Streak is over. I am not, and anyone who is should be ashamed of themselves.)
|Scotty Pippen Jr.||29||3||6||0||2||10||10||1||1||2||16||4||1||6||0||2||9.1||30.79||1.06||-15|
- Normally, I just use the Adjusted Game Score in the individual stats. But in this case, I’m leaving in the raw Game Score, because the Adjusted Game Scores are getting a little weird. As I’ve noted before, this can happen when guys are posting negative Game Scores, which throws off the adjustment (you get to Adjusted Game Score by multiplying the raw Game Score by the total number of points scored divided by the total of the raw Game Scores.)
- It’s hard to single anybody out last night for poor performance. The four players with negative Game Scores (Maxwell Evans, Braelee Albert, Matthew Moyer, and Dylan Disu) weren’t playing well, to be sure, though in Disu’s case if you ignore all the missed shots he was doing fine. (Yes, yes, “but other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”) I mean, obviously, I’ve said before that Disu’s defense is way ahead of his offense at this point in his career, and it’s not really his fault that the team needs him to attempt 13 shots anyway. So, I don’t know.
- And, yeah, Weird Oton Jankovic played six minutes and was the team’s fourth most-valuable player. It was that kind of a night.
- Scotty Pippen Jr. and Saben Lee were the team’s best players on Saturday, but neither of them was playing particularly well. And of course Ejike Obinna and Jankovic dodge any blame for the Streak ending by simply not attempting any threes.
- The most notable moment for Jordan Wright? He made a three-pointer that didn’t count because of a shot clock violation. Yeah, it was that kind of a night.
Alabama comes to Memorial Gym on Wednesday night at 8:00 PM CT on the SEC Network. There was a time when Alabama just absolutely could not win at Memorial Gym: Vanderbilt won 11 straight against the Tide at Memorial Gym from 1991 to 2011. Of course, Alabama won at Memorial Gym last year because everybody except Vanderbilt won at Memorial last year. You all may be checking out on the season, but since I have to continue to watch and write about this team, I’m interested to see how the team responds.