This is a general college basketball site, but hey, we all have a team that we root for. My team? Vanderbilt. Which makes this upcoming rant even tougher.
We had our first big upset in college basketball this season, as seventh-ranked Vandy was dismantled at home by Cleveland State by a score of 71-58, leaving a lot of concerned fans in Nashville.
And rightfully so. Where do you even start after a game like that?
Vandy’s defense is a huge liability right now, as they’re still unable to stop penetration by quick point guards, which is something that has hampered them for years.
They turned the ball over 21 times, with four players at least having three.Jeffery Taylor had six to go along with an extremely disappointing nine-point, four-rebound performance.
They’re clearly not the same team without Festus Ezeli inside, as although Steve Tchiengang had 11 rebounds on the day, they aren’t getting any production from him or Josh Henderson on the offensive end of the floor.
Those are just a few problems that came to the forefront today. Bad part is, none of those are the real reason why they lost the game.
If you watched that game from start to finish, the theme was simple. Vandy got outplayed.
Cleveland State was all over the place. They’re a hard-nosed team that is scrappy and they weren’t even gonna begin to back down from the challenge of facing a Top 10 team. That’s the mindset that you have to have when you go on the road against a team that most people believe is better than you.
Vandy might still be better than them, but they weren’t on this day. The Vikings outplayed the Commodores from the tip, and that’s something Kevin Stallings can’t be very happy about.
Speaking of Top 10, this team isn’t even in the discussion anymore. Not after a loss like that.
With Ezeli, they are without question capable of being ranked there, that is, if these other problems don’t rear their ugly heads on a consistent basis. Without him though, they simply don’t have it right now.
Ezeli isn’t gonna cure the turnover problems or the general getting outplayed problem, but he’ll be a game-changer in the paint. He’ll at least be able to cause trouble when those quick point guards find their way inside. But again, Ezeli isn’t gonna completely make all these concerns go away by himself.
From a talent standpoint, Vandy is probably a Top 10 team. Ezeli, Taylor, and John Jenkins all have the ability to play in the NBA next season, so why in the world is it so hard for them to get it together and beat teams the way they should beat them?
These tweets from ESPN’s Jay Bilas and SI’s Andy Glockner are telling:
Like it or not, Vandy has been labeled as a soft team. We’ve heard that word for several years now. And today, they certainly didn’t get rid of that label. Which is why the question continues to repeat itself: At what point is this group going to live up to their potential?
It’s still early and there are a lot of games to be played. This is not panic mode.
But there’s been too many games like this for this group in recent years. There have been too many games where they simply haven’t shown up and played to their ability. It’s a very concerning trend that most Vandy fans hoped would be gone entering this season. Is it toughness? Is it coaching? What exactly is it?
The answer is unclear. However, if this team wants to live up to the hype, they better find it soon.