Friday, January 15, 2016

Sleeping with the enemy, Vanderbilt Commodores

I reached out to Tom Stephenson from Anchor of Gold to give us his thoughts on the Commodores and tomorrow's game.  His response is below.  If you visit Anchor of Gold, please follow their site's rules and be a positive representative of the University of Alabama.

Strengths: Vanderbilt has a bunch of guys who can shoot the lights out, though perhaps the best one (Matthew Fisher-Davis) is out with a foot injury, but opposing teams still have to deal with Wade Baldwin, and even in a shooting slump Riley LaChance is still shooting 41 percent from three on the season.  And with two seven-footers (Damian Jones and Luke Kornet) in the middle, opposing offenses haven't been able to get much going at the basket; Vanderbilt ranks second in the country in defensive effective FG%.

Weaknesses: The Commodores have a tendency to beat themselves with turnovers, and in spite of the size they aren't an exceptional rebounding team. 

Keys to the game: For Alabama, luckily Vanderbilt's carelessness with the ball plays into their hands.  Since the Tide don't have the personnel to match up with Vandy in the paint, forcing the Commodores into empty possessions is probably the one way they have to limit Vanderbilt's offense.  But even that's fraught with peril; earlier this week Auburn forced Vandy into committing 17 turnovers but Vandy still buried the Tigers under a barrage of threes.

On the other end, Alabama's best bet is to hope that the jumpers are falling and, if not that, attack the offensive glass.  The latter hasn't been a strong point for the Tide, but Vanderbilt's defense has struggled the most when opponents have been able to generate extra possessions for themselves.

Players to watch: Of late, Damian Jones has begun to resemble the lottery pick people thought he would be going into the season... when he's been able to stay on the floor, that is.  Jones had 24 and 15 against Arkansas, 12 and 6 (in 16 minutes!) at South Carolina... but also fouled out of both games.  He didn't foul out against Auburn, but foul trouble limited him to just 13 minutes.  If Jones picks up a couple of early fouls, the trajectory of the game could change entirely -- though Luke Kornet is now back at 100 percent after missing a month with an MCL sprain.

Sounds like a typical Vandy team, a guy shooting 41% from the 3-point range is considered to be in a "slump."  We need to get Jones in foul trouble and have another shooting night like we did against South Carolina to stay competitive in this one.

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