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Anchor Drop, January 30, 2024: The waiting game

What the hell happened to this year’s basketball team?

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

Good morning.

Optional Musical Accompaniment

With nothing really going on today in the Vanderbilt sports world, I thought I’d dedicate this morning’s Anchor Drop to a question that we’ve kind of put off.

Just what the hell happened to this year’s basketball team?

Look, we might have been a little too optimistic entering the season, but I don’t think any of us really envisioned that we’d be coming to the end of January looking at 0-18 in the SEC as a real possibility. There’s been a season-ending injury and a suspension, but Colin Smith and Lee Dort missing time just isn’t the kind of thing that explains a 5-14 record. Or, at least, it shouldn’t. (What’s more, the team wasn’t playing particularly well with Smith early in the season. This isn’t an instance of Darius Garland getting injured and a team that looked legitimately promising going in the tank.)

So, let’s just go with the simplest explanation: this team can’t shoot. Vanderbilt, per KenPom, ranks 346th nationally in three-point percentage, a number that is making C.M. Newton roll over in his grave.

And uh, it might really be that simple. (Oh, yeah, and in spite of that, Vanderbilt also attempts 41.7 percent of its shots from beyond the arc.) So they shoot a lot of threes and they’re bad at them. What’s most glaring, though, is that the rest of the numbers aren’t that much different from last season’s NIT team. No, really, Vanderbilt’s offense is turning the ball over at the exact same rate. They’re slightly worse inside the arc, and slightly worse at offensive rebounding, but the big glaring difference is that they can’t shoot. (On the defensive end, they rank 340th in opponents’ three-point percentage, but that’s much more variable, and anyway the defense hasn’t dropped off that much from last season. Then again, last season’s team wasn’t great at defending, either.)

Then again, didn’t we pretty much already know this? Myles Stute didn’t have a good year shooting the ball last season, particularly in SEC play, but he was at least a guy who other teams had to respect. This year’s team has Tasos Kamateros, who’s shooting 3-of-20 from distance since SEC play started. And Evan Taylor, who’s shooting under 30 percent on the season.

Those were supposed to be the shooters. Sometimes, it really is that simple.

I think we’ve all decided that we’re watching the last days of Jerry Stackhouse here, and as we’d long assumed, it was recruiting that did him in.

Bad Gambling Advice

Season to date: 115-89-5 ATS, 110-93-4 totals

  • South Carolina at Tennessee (5:30 PM CT, SEC Network): South Carolina +14, Under 136
  • Mississippi State at Ole Miss (7:30 PM CT, SEC Network): Ole Miss, Over 138.5

Sports on TV

All times Central. College basketball schedule here.

  • 10:00 AM: AFC Asian Cup: Saudi Arabia v. South Korea (Paramount+)
  • 11:00 AM: Africa Cup of Nations: Mali v. Burkina Faso (beIN Sports)
  • 2:00 PM: Africa Cup of Nations: Morocco v. South Africa (beIN Sports)
  • 6:30 PM: NBA: Pacers at Celtics (TNT)
  • 7:00 PM: NHL: Blue Jackets at Blues (NHL Network)
  • 9:00 PM: NBA: 76ers at Warriors (TNT)
  • 5:30 AM: AFC Asian Cup: Bahrain v. Japan (Paramount+)

Scoreboard

SEC Women’s Basketball: Mississippi State 77, LSU 73 ... Auburn 67, Georgia 49.

NBA: Knicks 113, Hornets 92 ... Cavaliers 118, Clippers 108 ... Celtics 118, Pelicans 112 ... Nets 147, Jazz 114 ... Suns 118, Heat 105 ... Rockets 135, Lakers 119 ... Kings 103, Grizzlies 94 ... Timberwolves 107, Thunder 101 ... Wizards 118, Spurs 113 ... Mavericks 131, Magic 129 ... Nuggets 113, Bucks 107 ... Trail Blazers 130, 76ers 104.

NHL: Senators 4, Predators 3.

Asian Cup: Iraq 2-3 Jordan ... Qatar 2-1 Palestine.

Africa Cup of Nations: Cape Verde 1-0 Mauritania ... Senegal 1-2 Ivory Coast.