Vanderbilt had two players that it expected to start miss a good chunk of the season to injury, and of the two, Rodney Chatman’s absence hurt more. That wasn’t expected, but the difference was that without Chatman, Vanderbilt replaced him with some combination of Tyrin Lawrence and Shane Dezonie, which didn’t go so well.
Robbins’ absence led to Quentin Millora-Brown starting 30 games. That actually worked out pretty well.
Millora-Brown, in his second season playing for Vanderbilt after transferring from Rice and sitting out a year, wasn’t an offensive force, averaging just 5.3 ppg. He did shoot 65 percent from the floor and got to the foul line a lot (though, uh, what he did at the foul line needs some work), but he wasn’t a player that Vanderbilt was running offense through.
What he was was a warrior. He was a good rebounder and a solid defender. He was a guy who went into Rupp Arena and held Oscar Tshiebwe — the freaking National Player of the Year — to one of his worst games of the season, and had commenters at A Sea of Blue calling him a “thug” in the postgame thread. (When Kentucky fans are calling you a “thug,” you are probably doing very well.)
Plus, off the court, he was doing stuff like this:
Among those in the Vandy contingent behind the bench -- Clark Lea, Joey Lynch, Justin Lustig, Norval McKenzie, Quentin Millora-Brown— Robbie Weinstein (@rwweinstein) March 2, 2022
(For the record, that tweet was from the women’s team’s game at the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena.)
So basically, Vanderbilt had a backup center who due to circumstance had to become the team’s starting center and performed credibly, and also pissed off Kentucky fans and off the court was... not quite Ted Skuchas (no one is), but was somewhere around a Josh Henderson level of fan favorite and supporter of all things Vanderbilt. That gets you a...