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Vanderbilt Basketball Mail Bag #3: Answers to your Questions

You ask, we answer.

NCAA Basketball: Temple at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Question from WestEndMayhem:

Why are the basketball loses making me angry? I’ve been numb to this sport for a few years now, just like football. What about this team is making me emotional again?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: It’s because you have expectations again. Expectations are the thing that happens when you return a first-team All-SEC selection and the preseason SEC Player of the Year. It means that you actually expect to beat teams like VCU and SMU and Temple, whereas for the last couple of years you would have just said “eh, fine, whatever.” Always remember, folks, when you have expectations for a Vanderbilt sports team that is not coached by Tim Corbin, you may be disappointed.

Stanimal: Because they shouldn’t have lost the last two games. Blowing a 12 point lead against SMU in spectacular fashion followed by a very disappointing loss to Temple is not how you make your way onto the bubble, which is what you should expect from this team, and it is an entirely reasonable expectation. In years prior, the expectations were so much lower and so you were less passionate. You’ve got every right to be mad about the last two performances.

Doreontheplains: Because, at least in the case of the Temple loss, the team look completely lost for 34 minutes of regulation. The first 5 minutes or so looked good. The last minute was wild and crazy but had about as much organization to the chaos as can be expected. The rest of it was stagnant offensive sets that either died in someone's hands much too early or were passed from open looks to worse scoring opportunities. It was about as frustrated and annoyed as I have ever been at a Vanderbilt basketball game.

Paul: Because we’re in Stack’s third season and the amnesty period is far over for these kinds of losses. For so long we’ve given Stack the benefit of the doubt for 1) the learning curve of coaching NCAA basketball and 2) the time it takes to get some of his own players. I had some hope going into the season because we were returning some solid guys and a top 5 scorer in Vanderbilt history. Now, I’m disappointed and almost disinterested as this team keeps losing and isn’t even fun to watch. I do respect that Stack still wears suits to our games though. The dress code in NCAAB has also slid into the Work from Home era and it appears that none of these coaches respect their craft anymore.

Andrew VU ‘04: I’m with Stanimal on this one, but I’ll double down on it. As Red tells Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” The end of the first half in the SMU game and coming back to tie it to send things to OT against the Wet Hets just had to get your hopes up. Then, you know... the other shoe dropped. We’re this maddening combination of just enough juice—especially when Scotty Pippen, Jr. just completely goes off like 29 points and 8-14 from 3 against SMU—to get your hopes up, and then the inevitability of getting destroyed by the runaway train that is the reality that this team just doesn’t have enough talent to compete right now. In other words, you can squint and see a cromulent team. Then, stop squinting, and see a mirage. Worse yet, if friggin Dylan Disu doesn’t transfer, we have enough talent to make a serious run at a tourney bid. (Screams into pillow.)

Question from Comstipple Sacksoun:

QFTMB: how wet are our hets?

Answers from AoG:

Andrew VU ‘04: I’m on it.


Question from Blue Dore:

I haven’t seen much on this in a bit, but will Robbins play this year? I didn’t notice him on the bench last night but wasn’t really looking.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Who the hell knows. Whatever the original timetable was for his return, it keeps getting pushed back, which is never a good sign. First it was “he’ll be out for a few weeks,” then it was “maybe he’ll be back for SEC play,” now it’s “eh, stop asking me about it.” Seven-footers with foot injuries are always a weird, scary thing, because some of them will just never get past it, or at least not in time for them to actually make a difference.

Stanimal: About all anyone can say is that he’s supposed to. But no one really knows when.

Doreontheplains: Ask your Magic 8 Ball.

Paul: He’ll come back just in time for our (NIT) final four run. Buckle up!

Andrew VU ‘04: He’s in a boot right now, but it’s a long way until March. So... I hope so. Ah hell, I ignored Red Redding’s advice again.

Here’s what the beat reporter says about the subject:

Questions from JesseCuster44, Force10JC, & VandyFan1:

Remember when everyone on the roster could shoot WELL? Heck, even Steve Grant drained a 3 to beat UGA back in 1991.

... What the heck happened? Why isn’t shooting well important to VUMBB anymore? Do we not like recruiting kids who can shoot? Why isnt there a Riley LaChance, Frank Seckar or Scott Draud on this team?


Are we really this poor of a shooting team, or do we just have a confidence problem?


These bad shooting nights are getting awfully consistent arent they? When do we start thinking that we are just bad a offense?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: The thing is, we shouldn’t be this poor of a shooting team. I mean, we know damn well that Trey Thomas is capable of making more than 19 percent of his threes, and that’s what he’s shooting right now.

That said, we’re now on the second consecutive coaching staff that doesn’t seem to emphasize shooting on the recruiting trail. Bryce Drew didn’t, though he also inexplicably turned Aaron Nesmith into a bad shooter, so maybe that was more of a coaching issue than a recruiting issue. And aside from Thomas, I’m not sure who on this team was recruited specifically as a shooter. Now, college basketball is all about attacking the basket and players like Riley LaChance and Dan Cage and Sam Howard just aren’t really a priority for anyone at the power conference level. Why that is, I have no idea. But when the end result so far has been literally the worst three-point shooting team in Vanderbilt history, well, something needs to be fixed.

Stanimal: They are an inconsistent bunch to say the least. To be clear, none of these guys were recruited as sharpshooters. Several have shown the ability to hit when they are hot, but honestly I thought Disu was about the best shooter we had last year. Wright has gotten better, but that’s not his game. Stute is the definition of streak. Pippen’s game isn’t really to nail threes though he can. We just haven’t put a premium on marksmen, or, other teams have in this 3 and D age and the premium marksmen are going elsewhere.

Doreontheplains: Based on my first answer, you can guess I am going to blame Stackhouse mostly. You would be right. If the players miss open looks, you can chalk it up to a bad night or their shooting ability. When the sets look like THAT and the looks are not clean, either the coaching is bad or the players are not cutting and screening like they have been taught.

The fact this team looked more structured and in sync in the first few games (VCU not withstanding) points to coaching decisions for a more on-ball focused offense. Especially with Pippen ill, that plan will not work.

Paul: Mix of both. This team does have some solid shooters. People forget that Jordan Wright shot 43% from three last season, which is as high as anyone really ever has in a Vandy uniform. Mix that in with SPJ, who poses a threat, and the pleasant surprise that has been Myles Stute (shooting 40% so far) and this team should be able to knock down enough shots to then catalyze a reliable offense.

We all see that what was on paper coming into the season hasn’t translated to anything resembling a consistent offense so far. I see it as a confidence/culture issue that certainly could be fixed because the talent on this roster can string some shots together. After all, don’t you remember when Ross Neltner or Steve Tcheingang would occasionally knock down threes for us? Anything is possible.

Andrew VU ‘04: This is legitimately a crootin’ problem and a system problem. Kevin Stallings and his Shine-O-Ball-O of a head specifically crooted for shooters—as his original plan was a modified Princeton Offense filled with threes and backdoor cuts—whereas Bryce “Please Clap” Drew and Jerry “Ghost of Anton Lavey” Stackhouse have gone more after pure athletes. No one really knows what their system or offensive strategy is. Case in point: Riley LaChance. Relatively sure the story goes that LaChance was overlooked by pretty much every D1 program, but a coach who knew Stallings called him up and told him he had one of “his guys.” There’s something to be said for having a system.

Question from Ionlyrootforbadteams:

QFTMB: when does the pain stop?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Some time around baseball season.

Stanimal: Never. Prepare accordingly.

Doreontheplains: After the 5th shot of barrel strength whiskey.

Paul: Never until we bring Kevin Stallings back. We were kidding ourselves for ever thinking we deserved better. I don’t think attendance for a game has broken 1,000 fans this year.

Andrew VU ‘04: I yield my time to the teaches of Peaches.