Vanderbilt enters tonight’s game with a record of 8-11, 0-6 in the Southeastern Conference. The Commodores have now lost 24 consecutive SEC games dating back to March of 2018. About a month ago Vandy lost their best player, Aaron Nesmith, to a foot injury that will probably end his season. Nesmith was averaging 23 points per game which was leading the SEC and his shooting splits were absolutely ridiculous at 51.2/52.2/82.5. Since losing their future 1st Round pick, Vandy has been a completely different team, especially on the offensive end. Without Nesmith they have only averaged 55.2 points per game which would rank them 348th out of 350 Division I teams in offensive production. Also, their team offensive shooting splits look drastically different than their season totals having dropped to 41.2/26.7/65.2 in the 5 games they have played without their leading scorer. Quite simply, this has been one of the worst offensive teams in the country since losing Aaron Nesmith. Coach Jerry Stackhouse is still seeking his first SEC win, and with this game sitting in between an emotional road win at Texas Tech and College GameDay at Auburn this is a potential trap game for Kentucky. Let’s dive in and go over the game plan for defeating the Commodores.
#2 Scottie Pippen Jr.: 6’1” 170 lbs, Freshman Guard
11.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.0 apg
Point Guard. Aggressive offensive player. Play him straight up. No catch-and-shoot 3’s. No right hand drives. More of a driver than a shooter, but will knock then down when he has his hands and feet ready. Really wants to drive it right and finish with his right hand. Get over the ballscreens. Chase him off downscreens and get over the flares. No help off of him when he doesn’t have it. When he has the ball you need to pressure him as much as you can without getting beat to his right. He dribbles a lot and can be a little loose with it. Make him uncomfortable when he has the ball. Don’t over help when he drives it. Not a very good finisher and he likes to kick out to shooters the deeper he drives it. Stay between him and the basket and make him finish over you. He is right at 40% from 2 this season. Just play with your hands up and contest everything. No layups!
#0 Saben Lee: 6’2″ 183 lbs, Junior Guard
15.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.6 apg
Athletic guard. Driver. NO RIGHT HAND DRIVES!!! Closeout short to guard against the right hand drive. He is 20/68 from 3 this season, but he is MUCH better from 2 than 3. Have to closeout short to stay between him and the basket. Make him take 5+ 3-point attempts. If he makes a couple that is okay. He handles the ball a lot and will bring it hard in transition some. Have to get back and get the ball stopped. You can hop under the ballscreens when they are set for him. By far their most aggressive offensive player. He is looking to make plays off the dribble. Really wants to get to the rim and finish with his right hand. Just back up and keep him in front of you. No layups!!! Force him to shoot jump shots.
#3 Maxwell Evans: 6’2″ 190 lbs, Junior Guard
7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Lefty. Play him straight up. Capable 3-point shooter. 62 of 116 shots have been 3’s. Just be there to give a hard contest on the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Tighten up as the ball comes towards you so that you can contest the easy catch-and-shoot 3’s. NO LEFT HAND DRIVES!!! Once you take away the 3 he is looking to drive it left. Not really thinking about passing as he drives it. Wants to finish with his left hand. Closeout to stay between him and the basket. Just be close enough to give a hard contest if he shoots it. Make him score over you. No layups!
#4 Jordan Wright: 6’5″ 226 lbs, Freshman Guard/Forward
4.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Strong, athletic wing. Non-shooter. Driver. No right hand drives. He is 3/34 from 3 this season. Closeout short and make him shoot. If he makes a couple that is okay. Do not get beat off the dribble. He is 50% from 2. Stay between him and the basket and make him score over you. Not thinking about passing when he drives it. Good offensive rebounder. Box out! No layups!
#1 Dylan Disu: 6’9″ 220 lbs, Freshman Forward
6.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg
Stretch forward. SHOOTER!!! No 3’s! 90 of 121 shots have been 3’s. Have to be there to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Be tight on him. If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t close enough. He will drive it right once you take away the 3, but you want to make him drive it. Get out to him as he is trailing in transition. Really likes the trail spot 3’s. No help off of him. Looking to pick and pop when he sets ballscreens. You can switch the ballscreens when he sets them if you need to. Get over the flare screens when they are set for him. His whole game is facing up and looking for catch-and-shoot 3’s. Contest everything. Box out.
#50 Ejike Obinna: 6’10” 243 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore Forward/Center
3.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Post player. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Wants to score around the basket. Sets ballscreens and rolls to the rim. Will look for opportunities to duck you in. The deeper he catches it the more likely he is to make a move and score. His percentages go down the further off the block he catches it. Bad free throw shooter. Foul if you are beat. No And-1s. Be physical with him. BOX OUT!!! Very good offensive rebounder. Just make him score with you between between him and the basket. No dunks, no layups.
#13 Matthew Moyer: 6’8” 229 lbs, Redshirt Junior Forward
1.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Stretch 4. Willing shooter. 24 of 44 shots have been 3’s. Only 3/24 on the season. Be there to give a good contest on the catch-and-shoot 3’s because that is what he wants to do. Will drive it right once you take away the catch-and-shoot 3. You can help off of him when he doesn’t have it, but closeout and contest the 3. Pressure him when he has the ball. Make him uncomfortable.
#11 Braelee Albert: 6’5″ 220 lbs, Freshman Guard/Forward
1.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg
Strong wing. Play him straight up. 10 of 13 shots have been 3’s. Contest the obvious catch-and-shoot 3’s. Stay between him and the basket. No right hand drives. No layups. Box him out!
Vanderbilt is primarily a Motion offense team that will fluctuate between 4-around-1 and 5-out depending upon their lineups. Coach Stackhouse does a good job of spacing the floor and trying to create 1-on-1 opportunities for his playmakers. They do a lot of creative stuff to get their guards into middle ball screening actions and a lot of their offense is playing off of that. Regardless of what they are in, the name of the game is just staying between them and the basket. If you can limit their easy baskets they simply won’t be able to score enough to win. Here are some of their favorite offensive actions that you will see this evening.
Over/Under Middle Ballscreen: They run a lot of their half-court actions out of a 1-4 High alignment and begin with the guards on the wings interchanging with each other. As the guard from the left wing cuts over top the forward on the left elbow will clear out as well and the other forward will set a flat middle ballscreen. This is actually decent defense by Alabama and we will live with Pippen taking these long 2’s.
Secondary Handoff to Ballscreen: From Secondary they will swing the ball to the trail spot as the guards interchange along the baseline. The trail spot forward dribbles into a handoff and then the ball is moved ahead and they set a middle ballscreen for them to drive it downhill. This is a VERY bad closeout on #0 Lee that allows him to get into the paint and dump it off for a dunk. We should be closing out short to #0 and making him shoot it from the perimeter.
Staggered Double to Flare: This is something they run a few times each game. They set a staggered double for the ball side corner to run a little Iverson cut to the top of the key for a catch. Then, the first screener flares in for the second screener (usually Disu) for a 3.
Staggered Ballscreen to Staggered Double: They set a staggered middle ballscreen and then set a staggered double for the guard in the corner. If they don’t have a shot off the double they handoff back to the point guard and set a ballscreen for him. After the ballscreen they will downscreen again to try and get a shot. In this clip Alabama guards those actions well, but then allows #0 Lee to get his shoulders past them and get to the rim.
Horns-Flex: From a Horns alignment they will call “Horns Down” and run through some Flex screens. They will hit an elbow and then the point guard cuts down to the ball side block to set a back screen. Then, they screen-the-screener and will stay in Flex as the ball is reversed.
They are primarily a man-to-man defensive team. They really try to keep you on a side when the ball is on the wings and will look to force you baseline similar to how Texas Tech did on Saturday. They will “ICE” the ball screens as well. They have mixed in some possessions of 2-3 Zone, but for the most part they are going to be an aggressive on-ball, half-court man-to-man team.
Keys to the Game
- Stay between them and the basket. Since losing leading scorer Aaron Nesmith they have been terrible offensively. They are shooting just over 41% from the field since his injury and averaging just 55.2 points per game. They simply can’t score enough to win if we don’t give up easy buckets.
- No Layups. This is very similar to the above point, but it is such a key in this game that it deserves another mention. If we can limit their easy baskets they won’t be able to score enough points to be in the game.
- Dominate the boards. Vanderbilt has struggled on the glass and is minus three in terms of rebounding margin this season. This is an area that we need to take advantage of tonight.
- Be ready to catch-and-shoot. Vandy will guard on the wings in a similar fashion to Texas Tech in terms of forcing you to drive it towards the baseline. The skip passes will be there and we need to be ready to knock down some open looks from the perimeter.