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Vanderbilt Basketball Preseason Mailbag: Answers to your Questions

Wherein we answer the most pressing questions.

Briefkasten in Lanersbach Photo by Hohlfeld/ullstein bild via Getty Images

jessecuster44 asks:

The NCAA changed a uniform rule, allowing players to wear any number from 00-99.

With this in mind, what players on the roster should change numbers and who ought to wear #69? (nice)

The truth is, based on the few schools I’ve seen assigning numbers outside of the traditional ones that only contain digits from 0 through 5, all that’s going to happen is that they’re going to start issuing the remaining single-digit numbers. You knew this was how this was going to work, because there’s something about a single-digit number that makes a big man say:

I should not wear 44 like God intended; instead, I must have a single-digit number

Seriously, Arkansas took advantage of this rule change just so they could assign uniform numbers 6 through 8 and called it a day. But if it were up to me, somebody would wear some completely off-the-wall number like 57, particularly if his last name were “Heinz.” Tennessee should assign someone the number 98, for obvious reasons. You get the point.

And I don’t know that I would assign anyone 69, but Lee Dort should wear 99 for the same reason that a defensive lineman does. SEC schools get this all wrong by having a freakin’ kicker wear a number in the 90s while the defensive linemen wear single-digit numbers for some reason.

Vandyfan1! asks:

Season prediction?

VandyOptimist asks:

Just a simple one: are we dancing this year?

So I’ll answer this with a range of outcomes for the season.

I can definitely see Vanderbilt going 11-2 in the nonconference portion of the schedule: there are two games in Vegas (against NC State and one of BYU or Arizona State), a neutral-site game against Texas Tech in Fort Worth, and a trip to Memphis. KenPom thinks we’d be underdogs to all of those except Arizona State, but if we can go 2-2 in those four games, the rest of the nonconference schedule consists of home games that Vanderbilt can win. There are a couple of potentially tricky games in there (specifically, UNC Greensboro and San Francisco), but 11-2 is definitely on the table.

As for SEC play, I think the league is really deep, but I also don’t think there are any teams that are particularly unbeatable. If last year’s team could go 11-7, then I don’t see why this year’s team can’t. Put that together and Vanderbilt is 22-9 in the best-case scenario, which is definitely a NCAA Tournament team.

In the “floor” scenario, Vanderbilt gets swept in those four games above and then drops a couple more out of conference (to UNC Greensboro, San Francisco, and/or Boston College) and enters SEC play at 7-6... and then the depth of the SEC means there aren’t many easy wins on the schedule and they go 4-14.

ComestippleSacksoun asks:

It is undeniable that the nickname quality for our basketball players has declined from the lofty days of Ejike “Opabinia” Obinna. What are we doing, collectively, as a blog, to rectify this?

We are offering all available sacrifices to Vocokyteps and Pinman.

dynamite2omaha asks:

What are the odds that Brad Calipari fights his dad during our matchups with Kentucky?

I don’t know about the relationship between Brad and his dad. What I do know is that if anybody on the coaching staff is going to fight an opposing coach, it’s definitely Stackhouse.

WestEndMayhem asks:

I am Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse from the year 2523, and ARE YOU EXCITED for the team to be the most competitively ranked non-tourney team for the 500th season in a row?

All joking aside, barring a complete collapse Stackhouse is probably getting another year, but next year will be put up or shut up if he doesn’t make the tournament this year. (I don’t have any specific information on this. I do think that if it’s another NIT-type year, they’ll throw up their hands and give him another year, unless it’s an NIT-type year of the variety “were on track to make the tournament in January and then fell apart.” Hell, I don’t know. The point is they fired Bryce Drew for going 0-18.)

jessecuster44 asks:

Our current unis are tidy but a bit plain. I do not like the black and white throwbacks. What would it take to go back to the Shan Foster era tiffany font and gold jerseys for every home game?

Given what else is out there now, our current uniforms are fine. I’d prefer that we stop de-emphasizing gold as an athletic department, but it seems that the options that Nike currently gives you are “extremely traditional” (our current uniforms) or “ten different alternate uniforms a year, most of which are gray and hideous.” My basis for this is the uniform transition on the football side from Derek Mason to Clark Lea.

Yeah, I would definitely prefer the Shan Foster-era uniforms but it seems you can’t do that any more because The Kidz like their gray uniforms or something.

KnockinOnHeavensDore asks:

1) We are one of the smaller teams in the SEC with only one player at 6’10” (most have 3-5). Should we combat this by playing the biggest possible lineup we can, or should we commit fully to the small ball play style with our superior guard play?

2) Dort and Lubin seem to have similar skillsets (lots of shot blocking) but Dort is a bit taller and bigger while Lubin is a bit more athletic and versatile. Who do you see getting the start at the 5? And if the injury-prone Dort does go down mid-season, how will we deal with the loss combined with a preexisting lack of depth at that position?

3) Last year we had 22 wins and still didn’t even make the next four out IIRC due to our lackluster OOC. What does this team have to do pre-SEC play to give ourselves a good shot at making the tournament?

I think I’ve pretty much answered question three above (though I would also point out that last year’s team had 20 wins on Selection Sunday, with two of the 22 wins coming in the NIT.)

Anyway, small-ball is the name of the game these days and length is more important than height when it comes to protecting the basket. Ven-Allen Lubin might be “only” 6’8” but he had a pretty good block rate at Notre Dame, so I’d guess he’ll rotate with Dort at center.