Know Your (Temporary) Rival: Vanderbilt Commodores


By most accounts, Vanderbilt is probably a better overall team than anybody Mizzou has faced this season, including Richmond.  Does that mean a loss is in store for the Tigers, or do they match up pretty well with the Commodores?  Let's find out.

Vanderbilt: 4-1

VU Opp
Points Per Minute
1.89 1.62
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.06 0.91
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.30 1.03
2-PT FG% 51.8% 39.8%
3-PT FG% 34.8% 33.7%
FT% 65.3% 61.6%
True Shooting % 55.3% 45.8%
VU Opp
Assists/Gm 11.2 11.0
Steals/Gm 7.4 6.6
Turnovers/Gm 15.6 16.8
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.19 1.05
VU Opp
Expected Offensive Rebounds 62 75
Offensive Rebounds 58 86
Difference -4 +1


VU's season thus far:


@Vandy 95, Lipscomb 73
Vandy 72, @St. Mary's 70
Cincinnati 67, Vandy 58 (in Maui)
Vandy 68, Chaminade 41 (in Maui)
Vandy 84, Arizona 72 (in Maui)

Where the Commodores are solid

They are efficient shooters--none of their overall percentages are that great, but anything at 1.30 points per shot or better is solid, and that probably means they get to the line quite a bit.  Playing on the road, against a team good at drawing fouls (even if they're not great FT shooters), usually isn't a good combination for Mizzou.

They also play good defense, especially around the basket.  Holding opponents to under 40% on 2-point shots is a difficult accomplishment, but the 'Dores have pulled it off so far this season (I'm sure the game against Chaminade didn't hurt their percentages, but still).  That also doesn't bode well for Mizzou, considering how poorly they shot 2-pointers (and 3-pointers) in South Padre.

Where the Commodores are less than solid

Vandy plays at a faster-than-average pace, which gives them a few more opportunities for turnovers, but 15.6 is still too many.  Mizzou thrives on the BCI concept, and Vandy is only average at best at that game.  Since the Commodores are prone to moving relatively quickly, Mizzou might have a shot in this game by speeding them up faster than they're comfortable going, forcing turnovers, and creating easy scoring opportunities.  This probably isn't a game Mizzou can win in the halfcourt.

For a team with decent size (they have seven guys of 6'7 or taller in the rotation), they sure don't rebound very well.  It's not a huge weakness, but they are basically -1.0 rebound per game in terms of expected rebounds.  Mizzou has held its own on the boards so far, and putbacks (hello, Laurence Bowers) could be another opportunity for easy points.

In the end, this game presents some very interesting matchups -- it appears both that Vandy is capable of taking advantage of Mizzou's weaknesses, and Mizzou is capable of taking advantage of Vandy's.

Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Jermaine Beal (6'3, 205, Sr.) 17.2 0.54 31.8 MPG, 15.4 PPG, 2.8 APG, 1.8 RPG, 1.6 SPG
Jeffery Taylor (6'7, 210, So.) 15.9 0.58 27.2 MPG, 14.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 1.2 APG, 3.0 TOPG
A.J. Ogilvy (6'11, 250, Jr.) 12.2 0.53 22.8 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.8 TOPG
Andre Walker (6'7, 220, So.) 9.0 0.38 24.0 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.8 TOPG
John Jenkins (6'4, 215, Fr.) 7.3 0.36 20.4 MPG, 9.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG
Brad Tinsley (6'3, 210, So.) 3.8 0.15 25.6 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 3.4 APG, 1.4 RPG, 2.8 TOPG
Lance Goulbourne (6'8, 225, So.) 3.3 0.33 10.0 MPG, 3.6 PPG, 1.4 RPG
Darshawn McClellan (6'7, 240, Jr.) 2.5 0.20 12.4 MPG, 3.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG
Steve Tchiengang (6'9, 240, So.) 1.5 0.18 8.4 MPG, 3.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG
Festus Ezeli (6'11, 255, So.) 1.3 0.12 11.2 MPG, 2.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 BPG
Jordan Smart (6'6, 180, Fr.) 0.9 0.45 2.0 MPG
Chris Meriwether (6'0, 180, Sr.) 0.0 0.00 2.0 MPG
Aaron Noll (6'7, 220, So.) -0.1 -0.03 2.0 MPG
Charles Hinkle (6'6, 195, So.) -0.5 -0.13 3.8 MPG, 0.8 PPG
Joe Duffy (6'8, 225, Jr.) -0.5 -0.24 2.0 MPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Vandy's top five players are from Texas, Sweden, Australia, Illinois and Tennessee.  Throw in a Nigerian (Ezeli), a Kentuckian (Noll), a Brooklynite (Goulbourne), a couple of Californians (McClellan and Hinkle), and a Cameroon...ian (Tchiengang), and you wonder what they must talk about during downtime.  (Then again, this is Vandy, so they're probably talking about how hard their classes are, huh?)
  • For the most part, this team is based around three rock solid players -- Beal, Taylor, Ogilvy -- and a deep cast of role players.  They've got a couple of shot blockers (Ogilvy, Ezeli), a couple of fearless long-distance shooters (Beal, Jenkins...notice I didn't necessarily say "great" long-distance shooters), a couple of well-rounded scorers (Beal, Taylor), a good passer (Tinsley), and in the end, everything you need to have to be successful.
  • Ogilvy in particular presents Mizzou with another interesting test.  Thus far, they have fared pretty well against bigger players, but Ogilvy is a particularly rugged player who puts numbers in the box score despite the lack of what you would consider a true big man's numbers (he shoots under 50% from the field, grabs an only decent 0.25 rebounds per minute, has only five offensive rebounds in five games, etc.).  Taylor is the more active (and better) big man, and he is more to the size of Keith Ramsey, Bowers, etc., but Ogilvy is a unique matchup.

Keys to the Game

  1. Fouls.  As is often the case when Mizzou is playing on the road, how the game is called will go a long way in determining how good a chance Mizzou has.  They probably can't beat Vandy playing a halfcourt game right now, so they'll need easy buckets ... which means they need to trap and bump and get in the passing lanes, and if the refs allow for physical play, they'll have a very good shot to win.  If they're calling ticky-tack fouls, Mizzou will lose by 15-20 (with Vandy probably pulling away late with free throws).

  2. Pace.  Unlike Richmond or Old Dominion, the Commodores probably will not try to take the air out of the ball, take 9.5 seconds to get across halfcourt every trip, etc.  They are content to play relatively fast, and that could be a good thing for Mizzou.  If they are not consciously trying to slow things down, Mizzou might be able to bait them into picking up the pace faster and faster.  If this game is 70 possessions or lower, Vandy probably wins; but if Mizzou can up that to the 73-80 range, they will have a very good chance of escaping Nashville at 5-1.

  3. Rebounds.  For their size, Vandy is not a great rebounding team; if Mizzou wins the battle of the boards and gets more second chances than the Commodores, they will give themselves a much better shot at the upset, especially considering how poorly they shot first-chance shots last week.

Prediction

There is a clear path to victory for Mizzou here, and it rests on their ability to push the tempo, avoid fouls and grab rebounds.  Still, it wouldn't be tremendously smart to put a lot of money on Mizzou right now.  Even though I'm not too worried about this team long-term (yet), this isn't a game Mizzou should be expected to win.  Vanderbilt 71, Missouri 66.

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