Three Keys Revisited – Vanderbilt at Stanford

The Commodores men’s basketball season ended just short of a trip to Madison Square Garden and the finals of the NIT as the team went down 78-75 in Stanford on Tuesday night. The loss should not overshadow a strong and spirited end to the year, which the ‘Dores should be able to parlay into an invigorated offseason and an exciting 2015-16 campaign.

Before we get to that however, let’s put a lid on the season just gone by looking back at the three keys for the game against Stanford.

1. Stop Chasson Randle - Pass

With Randle coming off a 35 point game in the previous round of the NIT it was stopping him that was going to be the focus for the ‘Dores. For the most part that goal was achieved as Vanderbilt closed in on Randle any time he had the ball, denying his space and generally making his game far less effective than normal. On the night Randle was 6-of-15 and he was able to score just 16 points.

The problem was that with all the defensive focus on Randle his backcourt mate Anthony Brown was able to get his game going. Brown was 9-of-15 from the field, with trio of three-pointers to his name, for a total of 26 points. Perhaps just as impressive was the fact that Brown was able to do this while playing every minute of the game this late in the season.

2. Keep Stanford off of the free throw line - Fail

Though Stanford did not get close to matching the 49 free throws they attempted against Rhode Island, Kevin Stallings will still think that the 27 trips the Cardinal took to the charity stripe is entirely too many. Admittedly some of these came from fouls in the waning few minutes when Vandy was trying to extend the game, but in a game that was decided by just three points it is worth noting that Stanford scored 20 points at the line to Vanderbilt’s 17.

One thing Vanderbilt did do an excellent job of was putting the right person at the line late. Both Brown and Randle were perfect from the line on Tuesday night, so the Commodores made sure that the fouls were put on Marcus Allen who was just 5-of-10 from the line and looked like he was going to miss every single time up. That is the kind of smart play which kept the ‘Dores in the game.

3. Feed Damian Jones - Fail

Jones was as ineffective as he has been in a while for Vanderbilt as he went just 3-of-6 from the field and contributed just eight points to the Commodores cause. He was continually bothered by the Cardinals senior center Stefan Nastic who, despite dislocating his pinky in the first half, used his experience and knowledge of the low block game to keep Jones further away from the basket than Vanderbilt needed him to be.

For the first time in this NIT run the ‘Dores looked tired. Matthew Fisher-Davis again came to play, finding his stroke from downtown and scoring 18 points all on threes. Senior James Siakam also contributed with 14 points in what would turn out to be his final game as a Commodore. This though was an excellent learning experience for Vanderbilt and with so much youth on the roster the future is very exciting indeed. Top Stories