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Vanderbilt Basketball Mail Bag #6: Answers to your Questions

You ask, we answer.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Arkansas
Hadouken!
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Question from Force10JC:

It’s been so long since Vanderbilt has been competitive in basketball that I forgot how to act when they win an SEC road game. Can you provide a refresher?

Answers from AoG:

Paul: I usually go straight to the opposing team’s twitter base, which was extremely entertaining Tuesday night. In particular, I found a “Boo This Guy at Bud” account that listed Myles Stute as Bud Walton Arena’s designated victim of the night before tipoff. Obviously, Stute would go on to make the game-winning block for us, so the comments on that thread are pretty great.

Aside from internet pettiness, just bask in it, my friend. We’ve been on the losing end of way too many of those.

DoreOnThePlains: My personal course of action is typically just throwing verbal jabs at any opposing fans or even the unnecessarily negative and angsty Vanderbilt fans. No, I am not a good role model.

Maybe try sitting back and basking in the joy of victory with your favorite beverage.

Andrew VU ‘04: I’ll use my editing privilege to simply quote the first response to this in the comments:

Comstippplesacksoun: “burn whatever pants you have left and raise the two-drink minimum to four.“

Oh, and I will add one more thing. Make sure to completely deride your opponent’s coach via name-based puns for no reason whatsoever, other than him behaving like an ass all game, i.e.:


Question from VandyLuke:

with lasts nights victory I may have just entered into a dangerous level of optimism. Do I squelch my hopes or ride them out?

Answers from AoG:

Paul: I was very optimistic until I looked at the SEC schedule that we have coming up. I still firmly believe that this team can compete with anyone if we hit some outside shots, but it’s unfortunate that the year that Stack’s club takes a tangible step forward is also a historically deep year for SEC basketball. The upside here is that we’ll have plenty of chances for resume building wins, but Vandy does not go more than 3 games in a row without playing a ranked opponent for the rest of year.

DoreOnThePlains: Life is probably going to kick you below the belt. Why kick yourself there first? Ride positive feelings of any type until there is not logical reason to do so. Maybe even after the logic has run out and it is pure fandemonium.

Andrew VU ‘04: The Emily Dickinson Velociraptor has now morphed into the Emily Dickinson Velocipastor, and like Frankie Mermaids, he’s swimming in feathers. Ride the winged beast with all that you have!


Question from JesseCuster44:

During exam week, I tweeted at Coach Stack that he should consider running a motion offense. Since then:

a) He didn’t block me

b) MBB has gone on a bit of a win streak

How much credit should I give myself or Coach Stack (or Chatman) for this extremely fun turn of events?

Answers from AoG:

Paul: This carries a similar aura to 2015 when coach Derek Mason found the missing sheet of paper that promised to hold the secret formula that would successful football team. While that, along with your plea for Stack to run a motion offense, are relatively trivial silver bullets to pin our recent success on, I’ll allow you to take some credit here. After all, we are 4-0 since you suggested it to him.

DoreOnThePlains: We know Stack name searches himself on Twitter, so of course he saw it if you tagged him. Definitely claim the credit.

Andrew VU ‘04: This question has been blocked and then unblocked by Stack. Go ahead and tell everyone you are the reason we’ve turned things around. You have the blessing of the Emily Dickinson Hope Velocipastor. Praise be. Hail Pinman. OO.


Question from Comstipplesacksoun:

Robbins has to come back now, right?

Answers from AoG:

Paul: I’m still taking the “believe it when I see it” approach to Liam Robbins playing for us this year. Stack’s latest said early February, but at that point will Robbins feel any obligation to come play for 2 months for an NIT team and risk further injury before testing the pro waters? I’m skeptical and will also use this as an opportunity to appreciate QMB for stepping up this season.

DoreOnThePlains: With the early February possibility Stack brought up after the Arkansas game, I definitely think Robbins playing for us this season relies on 1 of 2 things being true. He either needs to have gotten information that health questions if he does not play will make an appreciable change to his draft stock and/or have information that he can appreciably upgrade his stock by showing out. I have no idea where any of that stands.

Andrew VU ‘04: The latest update I have is that we should get him back in February. Think of him as a “trade deadline acquisition.” As long as we keep playing like we have against BYU and Arky with the guys currently available, Robbins could well be the missing piece which gives us the edge in a late season push to some form of tournament play (I still think it’s likely the NIT, but you never know). I’m getting way ahead of myself, but that is something tournament selection committees are supposed to consider...


Question from ionlyrootforbadteams:

The announcers seemed very complementary [sic] on the Arky big man, but I thought despite being thin (and short) at the position, we defended the post well. Was this a legitimate test for our front court that we passed, or more of a blip that will be exposed when we face the better and bigger SEC teams?

Answers from AoG:

Paul: Trey Thomas was perhaps the most explicit example on the court on Tuesday, but Vandy looked extremely outsized against Arkansas. The team made up for these physical differences defensively by switching and rotating extremely well and forcing Arkansas to take (and actually make, for most of the game) contested deep twos. Can this scheme hold up against bigger and faster teams that shoot better than Arkansas did from three? We’ll see.

DoreOnThePlains: QMB is working hard and getting the most out of his talent. Especially without Mann available, it was a good team effort in the post. The quality of post play down the stretch will obviously depend on which bodies are available. If it is just QMB and Frank as the 5s, we could struggle. Mann is only listed at 6’ 6”, but he plays big and physical. Robbins slotting in obviously would be a huge boost. The key, at least until then, is going to be the aggressive, hounding defense they have played to make up for a lack of individual size by putting post players under load of pressure.

Andrew VU ‘04: I hate to give the Magic 8 ball “ask again later” response, but honestly, I don’t know. Probably the strongest frontcourts we’ve faced thus far belonged to SMU, Temple, and Arky, but none of them had a truly dominant big man. Of course, does anyone? Shaq is no longer patrolling the hardwood of the P-Mac (well, not in uniform, at least). At this point, the best thing we can say about our frontcourt is they play hard and defend well. They’ve not been truly dominated. That’s a good sign.


Question from VandyFan1:

i thought the team played well and obviously that was a pretty big win and so after the game what are your on the team and placement in sec at end of year?

Answers from AoG:

Paul: I think middle of the pack remains the prediction for most out there. Think of it this way: Tuesday’s win was essentially a coin flip that we won, so now we enter a 17 game SEC schedule with a game of house money. I’d personally be thrilled if this team finishes 7th or better.

DoreOnThePlains: Maybe a game or two above .500? This team appears to be growing and gelling on this 4-game winning streak. They will probably be inconsistent still, so even with an unexpected road win, they could still drop a game or two they would be expected to win to cancel it out.

Andrew VU ‘04: In the last mail bag, I answered a form of this question:

“Does the Diamond Classic Tourney Win (though one was by Covid forfeit) change that prediction? I would think so. Now I can see us going 8-10 in SEC play (give or take a game; give or take a Liam Robbins return), which would give us a 16-14 season and a possible NIT bid. That work for you?“

This road win vs. Arky was not a win on my prediction matrix, so at the very least, we should amend that to 9-9 in SEC play and 17-13 overall. Of course, the Emily Dickinson Velocipastor just exploded those numbers like so much Doug Jones’ parents...

..., and I’m now going with 10-8 in SEC play and 18-12 overall (on the bubble, ladies, so an SEC tourney win or two could tip things in our favor)!!!


Question from Parlagi:

That was the most fun I’ve had watching Vanderbilt basketball in a long time.

Do any specific VU basketball games stick out in your memory as favorites, and if so, which ones?

Answers from AoG:

Paul: Dang, it’s been too long. SEC Tournament Championship over UK in 2012 probably takes #1 for me. Beating Tennessee on the last second Shan Foster tip in in 2007 and Routing Kentucky 93-52 in Memorial in 2008 will also always have a special place in my heart.

DoreOnThePlains: The 18-point win over THEM in Memorial in 2012 sticks hard just because it was my senior year of high school, and I was there. It also probably meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, but the win over LSU, who was like #5 at the time, in 2020 was a lot of fun. It was a pleasant surprise to break the losing streak against a highly-ranked opponent.

Andrew VU ‘04: 1) Shan Foster going off on Senior Night against Clanga. 2) The Corey Smith NIT full court buzzer-beating layup. 3) Walsh, you suck! 4) Noah is ugly! 5) That time we beat the Chuggers when they were #1. 6) That time we got a Biggie Smalls profile style Kevin Stallings T Shirt (I don’t remember the game, but I still wear the shirt). 7) Josh Henderson’s pop-corn game. 8 through infinity) All things Ted Skuchas.

*In no particular order.


Question from Your Uncle Mike:

Stack made an imposing figure with the all black in the Arky game. Why do the other Head Coaches continue to look like Phys-Ed teachers? And if the other coaches continue with the “Casual Friday” look, why won’t they at least find school swag that fits?

Oh, and what in the Sam Hill is up with this...?!?!

Answers from AoG:

Paul: This is the biggest boomer take I’ll have on this website, but I hate seeing coaches ditch the suit and tie for polos and sweats on the sidelines. College basketball has always held such a classy and retro feel to it that is unfortunately phasing out right now. I get it, suits are uncomfortable and most business execs even work in PJs from their living rooms now, but there’s something about coaches like Stack and Buzz Williams respecting their craft enough to suit up that adds some elegance to the game and takes me back to the early days of the sport.

DoreOnThePlains: Stack’s suit game is elite. His typically stoic nature just adds to the effect. Most coaches are not nearly as outwardly calm. I cannot imagine wearing a suit and coaching. The ones that do often lose the jacket early in the game because of how animated they are on the sidelines. I do not want to see things get to “cutoff sleeve hoodies” levels of dress, but I am completely okay with the polos. Folks, it’s sports, not church.

Andrew VU ‘04: I, for one, could not imagine coaching in a suit. I view it similarly to the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia wine in a can thing. I get far too worked up not to make a mess of things, so would just ruin all my suits. No thanks. Also, I actually like that Memphis court design, as their prom theme is “Under the Sea.”


Question from VandyImport:

QFTMB: which Infinity Stone has Scotty Pippen Jr taken possession of?

Answers from AoG:

Paul: He’s still putting up big time numbers despite being double and triple teamed on defense. Watching him on the court, I think half of his turnovers are just due to his making elevated plays and passes that the guys around him simply aren’t ready for. Soak it up, we only have 20 or so more chances to watch him play in a Vandy uniform.

DoreOnThePlains: Reality. He can take over a game at a moment’s notice. The scoreboard and opposition bend to his will.

Andrew VU ‘04: This one of those West Coast Goddess Party things for middle-aged divorcees?


Question from DoreJam:

I have a heart condition. Should I avoid watching the next few Vandy games? (Fortunately I missed last night’s game. Dodged a bullet apparently!)

Answers from AoG:

Paul: You could do what my dad does and record the game to your DVR and watch it later. If the game gets too tense and your chest tightens up, you can relieve yourself of the stress and just check the score online. If we’ve won, it’ll be a joyous thrill to see how we got there. If we lose, then you save yourself the slow process of watching the game slip away from us and dedicate that time to some more serene activities like painting or meditation. Maybe I should start doing this?

DoreOnThePlains: It would probably be for the best. Unless you can find a medicine or other elixir that helps keep your stress down and heart rate steady.

Andrew VU ‘04: I think you’ll be okay (*note: this is decidedly not medical advice, as my doctoral work was in long 18th century and postmodern literature), but I would keep the cardiac risk in mind when turning on the game, as this team seems to want every game to involve a last-second shot. If you’re expecting it, you’ll be more prepared for it, right? Like how I know every M. Knight Shyamalan movie will suck before even hitting play, so I am not surprised by the twist ending that it was a terrible film.