- Tennessean: Vanderbilt basketball opens season with disastrous Presbyterian loss
- The Vanderbilt Hustler: Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball suffers nightmare loss to Presbyterian, 68-62, in season opener
I mean, really, what else am I gonna say about this?
Vanderbilt opened the season Tuesday night with what was supposed to be an easy win and, instead, the Commodores got themselves into a dogfight with Presbyterian, a team that went 5-27 last season. Actually, early on, Vanderbilt looked sluggish but it didn’t seem like the Commodores would have any trouble: an early 12-1 run gave Vanderbilt a ten-point lead at the 12-minute mark, and at that point I figured Presbyterian was overmatched and this would end up being about a 20-point game, leaving few satisfied but still the kind of game you expect against a bad team on opening night. Hell, it was 28-18 with a little more than two minutes left in the first half.
Then Presbyterian cut it to four at halftime, and about midway through the second half the Blue Hose went on a run and built a 51-39 lead. And you just knew how this was going to end, didn’t you? Ezra Manjon nearly willed Vanderbilt to a win, but it was too little, too late. Manjon, by the way, sat most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls and that... well, in hindsight was a very questionable decision. I somewhat understand the urge to do that but for a guy like Manjon, who averaged 2.7 fouls per 40 minutes last season, it was probably overkill to have him on the bench that long — odds were that he wasn’t going to pick up another foul (and, in fact, he finished the game with two fouls in 24 minutes.)
Now, this all comes with a big asterisk because Tyrin Lawrence, Lee Dort, and Ven-Allen Lubin didn’t play. That’s probably Vanderbilt’s best player and the two specific guys on the roster who are A Problem for a team like Presbyterian. I’m just going to throw out there that Presbyterian probably doesn’t shoot 21-of-37 on twos if they’re having to go up against Lubin and Dort. And on Vanderbilt’s end, the absence of any real source of easy buckets meant an 8-of-33 shooting performance from three.
You could blame Stackhouse for playing so many guys; that doesn’t explain Colin Smith, Evan Taylor, and Paul Lewis going 7-for-28 from the floor — and 4-for-21 from three. None of it explains losing to this team. This is a bad loss, and fortunately there are 30 more of these to make the case that Vanderbilt basketball isn’t this. Unfortunately, if Vanderbilt basketball is in fact this, I’ve got to watch 30 more games.
- I was told we were going to tighten the rotation.
- Actually, Stackhouse said in the postgame that he’d planned on playing a bunch of guys because this was the type of game where you think you can play a bunch of guys. Which, sure, but once Presbyterian was still hanging around midway through the second half, maybe that’s the time that you stop screwing around.
- Ezra Manjon was doing all he could, but the help was pretty minimal. Carter Lang grabbed 11 rebounds and didn’t do a whole lot else; Tasos Kamateros hit a couple of early threes and then basically disappeared. Those were Vanderbilt’s second- and third-best players. I am betting this will be the only time all season that happens.
- Paul Lewis and Evan Taylor... meh. Neither of them were hitting shots, and in Taylor’s case that’s what he’s supposed to be here for. Meanwhile, Colin Smith was... not good.
- All five freshmen played and none of them really made much of a case for being in the rotation. Lang, as mentioned above, was decent, but he’s not going to be playing this much once Lee Dort and Ven-Allen Lubin return. Jason Rivera-Torres is probably the closest guy to being ready, and he’s going to have nights like this.
A visit from USC Upstate on Friday night at 6 PM on the SEC Network+. USC Upstate lost by 29 to South Carolina on Monday night. If this one’s even close, well, the Presbyterian game probably isn’t a fluke loss.