Awesome stuff coming from Vanderbilt today. If for some reason you have yet to see, be sure to check it out above. Go ‘Dores!
Awesome stuff coming from Vanderbilt today. If for some reason you have yet to see, be sure to check it out above. Go ‘Dores!
Good afternoon readers. My plans for today involve you.
I have been wanting to update the website here for a little while. In the past month or so, some font colors have been changed, the navigation bar has been moved to the top of the screen, the comments section button was moved to the end of the post (to inspire commenting after reading, but that failed), and the logo/header was upgraded a little bit. All four of those things, although minimal, improved the browsing experience in my opinion. However, it recently occurred to me that, in this situation, my opinion doesn’t really matter. My goal here is to give readers the best experience, so it is really you guys that should have a voice around here.
So, what is it that you would enjoy?
And not just visually either, but the whole package, feel free to criticize even. Am I doing something wrong? Call me out on it. Does the site look bad? Tell me how to make it better. Is there anything you want me to write about? Just tell me. Is there some type of weekly piece you want to see? I can make it happen. Maybe you want to see more general college football or SEC stories? I would love to. Want to add a widget or anything else to the sidebar? Absolutely.
Arkansas is certainly a sight to see in this conference. Not just because it is really weird not seeing Rotnei Clarke in a red uniform, but also because Mike Anderson has really brought that classic Missouri brand of basketball to this Razorback team. Offensive possessions are plentiful due to high confidence and very quick shots. It is not always pretty, but it is kind of like all their guards are Dee Bost and they show no fear of shooting regardless of what the defense shows. You may think this is a terrible strategy, but we have said it before that one wild shot can completely change the momentum of a game, and the Hogs are just that type of team that is going to hit something crazy. And their defense of course has that same type of aggressiveness. Mike Anderson loves his pressing defense and has taught his team to have very quick hands, which is why they are among the best teams in the nation at stealing the ball and on top of the league at every steal category we calculate. All of this high tempo game has its downsides, like poor rebounding and usually terrible scoring defense but it certainly makes for an interesting game. Also, they are much better in their gym. Good thing for us is that we have actually been more effective on the road this season. Moreover, the fact that Arkansas only has ten scholarship players (two of which are not going to play) really makes a difference.
A huge factor in the game is really going to be rebounding. Not because it is going to be a close stat, but because we should destroy them in that part of the game. Arkansas is by far the worst team in the conference at grabbing a rebound. And this is especially evident when they are on defense. The Razorbacks struggle to establish any kind of good positioning to grab a defensive rebound, and that could really be the kicker in this game given how well our own Festus Ezeli and Lance Goulbourne have been lately. Not to mention, Jeffery Taylor is one of the better offensive rebounders in the conference. You can expect us to make some noise on the glass for sure. I would say that is the biggest negative of their tempo, especially in a game like this one.
Julysses Nobles is the starting point guard for the Hogs. Really, he is one of the least threatening players that will see the court for them though. He jacks up too many shots and he just cannot find his stoke to save his life. And that especially goes for when he is inside the three-point line, where he is awful. I would not let his one decent game against Mississippi State fool you into thinking he is offensively gifted. I know that sounds harsh, but his inconsistency is just so glaring. Nobles does lead his team in assists, but none of those are really special anyways. Arkansas is really not a great passing team to begin with, and he is not anything breathtaking as is. He can certainly steal the basketball though, and that is without a doubt where he fits into the Arkansas equation. Matter of fact, he has averaged four steals a game in his last two outings. What is really crazy though, is that he is second on his team in rebounds due to the fact that no one in the frontcourt gets many minutes.
It would be the guards that play next to him that pose a major threat offensively. Mardracus Wade and Rickey Scott, two sophomores, shoot much more efficiently than their aforementioned teammate. I would say Wade is the better of the two with his consistency and his work to fight for the better look. Actually, I really think he has a good game if you ask me. Scott can play a big role as well though, and is certainly more effective than Nobles. He is also second on the team when it comes to assisting the ball, but I still do not put much value on that when it comes to this team. As you could probably guess, both of these guys can cause issues for oppositions with their ability to steal the ball. Wade actually leads his team in steals this season, but Nobles is on a pretty good streak at snatching the ball and worries me a little bit more. Arkansas also gets a lot of backcourt help from the bench, but that can be talked about later.
Arkansas’ frontcourt has suffered two injuries. One was to Marshawn Powell, who looked great in his first two games of the season but went down with knee injury that put him out for the season. And the other was to Marvell Waithe, who went down two minutes into the first start of his career two weeks ago against Michigan. I really like him as a role player, but he will probably miss this game unless he can recover quite quickly. So the probable starters are now Michael Sanchez and Hunter Mickelson. Sanchez is a decent player but he is not starting material in my eyes. He does not get many minutes for a starter, nor does he make much noise with them. He may have torched us last season, but I just don’t see it happening again. Mickelson is a freshman who possibly would be a decent player if he was not the master of fouling. I have not seen too many starters attract the whistle like this kid. It really blows my mind, and he does not get many impressive scoring or rebounding stats because of it. His aggressiveness does have something to show for it though, as he is a terrific blocker. Still, the frontcourt for the Hogs is extremely low in depth at this point and only has one player coming off the bench right now.
So let’s talk about their depth then. You may know that Arkansas had quite a good recruiting class last season, and you also may have noticed that only one of those guys have been recognized so far. And that is where guards BJ Young and Rashad Madden come into play. Young has been the leading scorer on the team since Marshawn Powell went down with an injury, and really proves his five-star rating with his minutes. His offensive game is stellar and he is constantly on the attack. He should be a great player by the time he is done playing ball and we will probably be worrying about this guy for a while. Madden is no slouch either, and the four-star prospect has turned into one of the better scorers on the team as well. It is funny, these two freshman play more minutes than any Arkansas frontcourt player on the roster. So yes, the top five guys averaging minutes for the Razorbacks are indeed backcourt players. How wild is that? And the only scholarship player left on the roster is freshman Devonte Abron. He is certainly a solid player in his own right and actually leads all active forwards in both points and rebounds. He should see a lot of minutes due to injuries and fouls.
Honestly, not much scares me about this game now that I have analyzed the Razorbacks. I just worry that our carelessness will really show itself against their aggressive defense, but even then my confidence is still pretty high going into this one. Kevin Stallings knows all about Mike Anderson and will not have our guys unprepared by any means. While their guards can be dangerous, our offense should crush them in the halfcourt when we pound the ball in with Festus or set up some plays for Jeffery Taylor, who should have a great game if he continues showing his high confidence and driving instincts. I suspect we can grind this game out and kill the high tempo game of Missouri with tough basketball that they simply cannot handle due to foul issues and even bigger injury problems.
Vanderbilt wins this game despite a huge crowd in Fayetteville. Should be pulling away late if Jeffery Taylor keeps it up and John Jenkins shows some more game around the basket like he has lately. Having Festus Ezeli back on his game is the big difference maker though.
Our struggles against Oregon were certainly excusable. Our squad had never been given so much preseason recognition and first game issues are bound to happen. What happened against Cleveland State is a different story. While it is nice to point out how well the Vikings played, there is no place for that kind of talk when a team is at the level we are. We are better than those guy, regardless of if we have our big man or not, and we had our chances to grab victory throughout the contest.
Nevertheless, it was game two of the year. We will have more chances, and basketball is not like football where one game can kill a season for the top teams. Cleveland State was just a bump in the road and Bucknell is our first step towards getting back on track. Some things need to change though. We need to clean up our truly embarrassing ball handling and miscommunication issues first and foremost. Considering one of our strengths is being one of the experienced teams in the nation, there is no place for all that. Moreover, our post defense needs some real improvement because we are going to be facing some very respectable opponents very soon and they will not be holding back just because we are missing Festus Ezeli. In fact, even Bucknell will have a talented post man tonight. Nearly seven footer Mike Muscala was Patriot League Player of the Year last season and will have his way if we get soft.
I trust in the team though. We are not #7 in the nation without Festus Ezeli but we already knew that. We still have a lot of talent and should get back on track. Upsets happen.
An exhibition basketball game may not be the best evidence, but we saw a lot of good things from the squad tonight. Not only did we take care of Xavier (LA) in expected fashion, but without any minor slips midway through to disappoint the fans. Moreover, one freshman in particular really stood out among a game of great statistics.
Kedren Johnson would be that freshman. He contributed a solid sixteen points, nine of which came from the free throw line after Johnson put that much mentioned driving ability to work against the Gold Rush defense. What really stands out from all his other numbers though, was the fact that he put them all up without committing a single turnover. Not only is that amazing because this was his first game and exhibitions are known for their high turnover marks, but it also says a lot about his ball handling abilities as he was able to drive multiple times and attract multiple fouls without giving the ball up. While stats put up against the NAIA’s finest will not translate to regular season action, it was still rather impressive to me.
Nothing really too exciting other than that. As a team, a lot of guys went the way of Johnson and drove the ball in to get points in the paint with the absence of Festus Ezeli. Check out the notes on the top twelve players below:
I didn’t write a story about the Kentucky game. Normally, this means I hated the game and I don’t want to about. However, that was not the case at all. I thought we played well for the most part and it was certainly a loss I can take without being upset. While I would have liked a few more buckets, we still played with heart and that is good enough for me.
So now this tonight is an even bigger game than we than you could have imagined. Kentucky, Georgia, and even Tennessee are now breathing down our neck and we need a win today to get out of playing on Thursday. Here are all the scenarios for each of the teams still in the hunt for the bye (or all of the scenarios I am sure of, at least):
Nothing else to say.
That was one of Dai-Jon Parker’s final words today when he committed to the Commodores. Personally, I’m pretty excited to have this top-notch prospect. We are really going to be super deep next season and that will be the year that we have a real shot at going deep in the tourney.
Preview of next season’s squad (no particular order):
PG: Brad Tinsley, Kyle fuller, Kedren Johnson
SG: John Jenkins, (Parker/Tinsley)
SF: Lance Goulbourne, Rod Odom, Dai-Jon Parker, (Shelby Moats)
PF: Steve Tchiengang, Darshawn McClellan, (James Saikam/Moats)
C: Festus Ezeli, Josh Henderson, (Tchiengang)
Now let’s give a big round of applause to Kevin Stallings.
Vandy ain’t no joke.
In next winter… man, this is very tough… In next winter I am going to take my talents to Nashville. That was the conclusion I woke up with this morning.
Not only is that the first LeBron James reference I have ever made on this site, but it is also the quote that I am expecting from Dai-Jon Parker. If you want to see his announcement first-hand, then head over to courtcred.com at 8:30 tomorrow night.
I feel a lot more confident about chances in this one than I did on Wednesday. I have been reading a lot of reports and most people are saying that this one is going to go our way. Nevertheless, don’t be too disappointed if we don’t get Parker. Kevin Stallings has already won Kedren Johnson over, and that was our big target in the 2011 class. Dai-Jon Parker would just be a bonus (a really big bonus).
By the way, their calling his announcement “The Decision.” That’s why I pulled out the LeBron James reference.
Yet another story on our simplifying offense was posted today. It seems pretty certain that some changes are going to be made. In case you missed any of the stories, here they are: