Anchor of Gold's Christian D'Andrea educates us on the Vandy three-point shot and that crazy raised floor they call home in Nashville. Auburn meets Vanderbilt on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT at Memorial Gymnasium. The game will be aired on ESPN3, and audio broadcast is available on the Auburn IMG Network / XM 199.
At the end of the season last year, a significant portion of Vanderbilt's roster either graduated or left early for the NBA. Given that, what were your expectations for this season?
Vandy fans knew that this season was going to be a rebuilding year. Unfortunately, a relatively low-rated recruiting class meant that it was going to be more painful than we expected. We expected a few guys to step up that haven't yet (Rod Odom and Kyle Fuller, the team's elder statesmen as juniors, have been inconsistent), but Kedren Johnson and Dai-Jon Parker, both sophomores, have shown the flashes of growth that Commodore boosters were expecting.
We were ready for a handful of losses, so this season hasn't been too bad yet. Those last second defeats to Ole Miss and Kentucky still hurt, though.
With Vanderbilt shooting almost 50 percent of its shots from behind the arc (and making good on just over 30 percent of them), is it safe to say that the 'Dores live and die by the three? Who is your favorite three-point guy?
Vandy has to live and die by the three because they have no one who can score inside. Parker and Johnson are athletic enough to get to the rim but not polished enough to finish there. Big men like Shelby Moats and Josh Henderson can't score efficiently in the paint. This team is forced to settle for jumpers when they can't gain ground in the paint, and that's led to a ton of threes, even for a Kevin Stallings team.
My favorite three-point guy right now is freshman Kevin Bright. Bright played on the German National U-18 team and has been solid in his first year, though he's faded a bit as the season wears on. He's hitting half of his 3-pointers so far and has played hard-nosed defense on the other end. He's got a lot of room to grow, but he'll be a steady contributor for the 'Dores over the next three years.
Do you think that uniqueness of Memorial gives an edge to the Commodores?
Absolutely. Putting the benches on the end line makes things much more difficult for opposing coaches, and the Vandy students have traditionally done a good job of creating a hostile environment for opponents from their seats below the court on the sideline. Memorial has definitely become a weapon for the Commodores in SEC play.
What does Vanderbilt have to do to win this game? Are there weaknesses that can be exposed?
Vandy's defense has been solid this year, but their offense has been terrible. Their passing stagnates and they have difficulty creating open shots. This game has all the makings of a slopfest, and it may come down to the Commodores limiting Frankie Sullivan's effectiveness and hitting their free throws down the stretch. Vanderbilt has been impressively awful at the free throw line this year. Only one team in Division I basketball is worse than them.
Give us your thoughts on the final score.
Vanderbilt 54, Auburn 51. Neither team shoots over 40 percent and bars broadcasting the game note record sales of alcohol for fans of either team trying to forget that this one ever happened.