2009-2010 Vanderbilt Commodores Basketball Preview
In the past five seasons, the Vanderbilt Commodores (19- 12 overall, 8- 8 SEC) have had their ups and downs. Last season, they were down, finishing fifth in the SEC East and not even earning an invite to the NIT. The two seasons before, they won 10 games in the SEC and both times went to the Big Dance, making it to the Sweet 16 in 2007. This year look for Vandy to turn the corner and get back to the NCAA Tournament.
Scoring was a major problem for the Commodores last season as they knocked in just 70.5 PPG, ranking them 11th in the conference. They were helped by a fine defense, which help opponents to 65.6 PPG (2nd in SEC). They hit field goals at the rate of 45% (4th) and frees at 72% (3rd). And the club rebound margin of plus-4.7 placed them third in the league. Where they failed was in the three-point region where they connected on just 34% (8th).
Last season, center A.J. Ogilvy (15.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.3 APG) had a decent sophomore season. Perhaps more was expected of the Australian in his second season, but he did well especially considering that he was dealing with health issues for the first two-thirds of the season. Six-foot-eleven center Festus Ezeli (3.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.0 APG) has promise. This is his second season and it’s hoped that he and Ogilvy can team up and tower above opponents. The small forward spot goes to the athletic Jeffrey Taylor (12.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.7 APG). Last season as a freshman he started in all 31 games. Better perimeter shooting from Taylor would be helpful.
There’s a new kid in town. It’s John Jenkins. In his senior prep year, Jenkins led the nation in scoring with 42.3 PPG. He can hit from outside and slash to the basket. Jenkins could be the one who is the difference maker this year. But Jenkins won’t start. That role of point guard goes to reliable senior Jermaine Beal (12.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.2 APG). The shooting spot is the purview of sophomore Brad Tinsley (11.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.8 APG).
Head coach Kevin Stallings has a deep and talented team that should finish in second or third in the SEC East and garner an NCAA berth. Vet point man Beal and Ogilvy in the low post help to make this team a true contender. Honestly, due to the fact that Kentucky and Tennessee are loaded, this looks like a third-place club. Then again, Jenkins is a wild card. After the regular season look for the Commodores to make it into the Sweet 16. Anything more is simply gravy for this team.