By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the statistic, but it’s worth repeating: last night, Jarred Vanderbilt grabbed 11 rebounds in 11 minutes. Of his 11 rebounds, seven were offensive boards. In just 11 minutes of action, Vanderbilt became the team’s leading rebounder; he was followed by Wenyen Gabriel, who grabbed nine boards in a much-longer 28 minutes. He played tough basketball, he allowed other guys some bench time and he played with as much energy as anyone on the court.
He just couldn’t get the ball through the net.
Vanderbilt finished the night with one lonely point, a free-throw made with 6:24 remaining in the first half. He went 0-5 from the field. Last night’s single-point performance bumps his season average down to 3.25 points-per-game.
Calipari said it best:
How can such an athletic guy, a guy who’s been called everything from the spark to a game-changer, provide his team with so little in terms of actual points? Of course, he’s only played 49 minutes of basketball this season, which obviously plays a role in the lack of shooting efficiency. He’s out of shape and he’s still getting comfortable with his shot, especially in a rowdy, road environment like last night’s.
And, sure, last night’s win once again showed Kentucky can win even without Vanderbilt contributing on the offensive end. But, man, wouldn’t it be fun if he got hot?
“I gotta figure it out offensively. I’m losing my mind,” Calipari said after the game. “I called Jarred in and I said, ‘Listen, I need you on the court. I need your rebounding. I need your toughness. I need your ability to pass and be that guy.'”
And Kentucky definitely does need Vanderbilt on the floor – he’s by far the team’s leading rebounder, averaging over seven rebounds per game while simultaneously averaging just over 12 minutes per game.
According to Calipari, he’s doing everything he can to get Vanderbilt involved offensively. They just haven’t quite figured out that perfect role just yet.
“What do you want me to run? Write up a play,” Calipari said regarding what he told Vanderbilt in their aforementioned meeting. “Tell me how you want me to use you offensively so that you’re comfortable.”
Does Cal think Vanderbilt changes the team’s dynamic while he’s on the court?
“Yeah. He brings that toughness. He’ll go get balls. We just gotta figure him out offensively.”
At this point, I think it’s safe to assume Vanderbilt’s comfort level will only increase with time and experience. As he gets back into prime basketball shape and starts earning more and more minutes, I genuinely believe we’ll finally see his shots starting to fall. I just hope it won’t be too late.