Vanderbilt's win over Western Kentucky was the Commodores's tenth consecutive win over the Hilltoppers, in a stretch going back to the mid-1960s. Hilltopper fans may excuse the loss on the grounds that 7'1" center Chris Marcus did not play, but Marcus is expected to be out for about six weeks and will miss a considerable part of the season, so they had better get used to it.
The Commodores unveiled an effective trapping defense that they are likely to want to keep, and shot well, but continued to have problems getting the ball off the boards. Coach Kevin Stallings seemed as happy with the Commodore effort as he was displeased with the lack of focus in the previous game, with California Poly.
The Southeast Missouri Indians of Cape Girardeau, MO have lost their first four games this season. Only three years ago they represented the Ohio Valley Conference in the NCAA tournament, and had an 18-12 record last year. But Coach Gary Garner lost four of his starters, plus two other regulars, and his team is struggling. The losses were to Birmingham Southern, Arkansas-Little Rock, and Western Illinois (all home games), and to Southwest Missouri on the road. The losing margins were from nine to thirteen points.
By far the top scorer is 6'2" freshman guard Derek Winans (19.3 ppg). Winans hasn't been making many of his points on three-point shooting (he is just 23-5 to date), so presumably he is a driving and slashing type of player. The other starting guard is another freshman, 6'3" Brett Hale, who is averaging 9.0 ppg. Since neither Winans nor Hale has many assists, presumably they share point guard and shooting guard duties. 6'4" junior Demetrius King (a transfer) also starts and averages 9.8 ppg and 4 assists. The only other guard who has seen significant action to date is 6'4" freshman Kevin Roberts (4.3 ppg), a walk-on. 6'6" sophomore guard Damarcus Hance has appeared in only one game so far. One can begin to see why the Indians are off to a rocky start.
There is greater experience in the front court. Tim Scheer, 6'7" junior, is scoring 11.8 ppg and grabs 6.3 rebounds. He is also the leader in assists and fouls (nearly four per game), and the only player who has shot the ball well from outside, hitting 7 of 14 threes. Drew Demond, 6'7" junior is the leading rebounder (7.3 per game) and scores 7.0 ppg. 6'8" sophomore Daniel Weaver is scoring 5.3 ppg and his average for rebounds is exactly the same figure, so the Indians do have three players who can get the ball off the boards. 6'11" freshman Adam Crader (2.3 ppg and 1.3 rpg) is playing about 7.5 minutes per game.
Plainly the Indians are thin, small (except for Crader), haven't shot the three well, and are inexperienced at the guard positions. They expected to have 7'1" senior center Kostos Avgerinos, but he isn't on the roster. 6'3" sophomore Justin Smith, a transfer from Arkansas State, doesn't become eligible until after the fall semester. Monte Gordon, 6'5" senior, is on the roster but didn't appear in any of the first four games.
Southeast Missouri is probably the weakest game on the Vanderbilt schedule, with the exception of Liberty. As their young players gain experience, and Smith becomes available, they should improve, but right now they are undermanned.
If Vanderbilt doesn't win this one by 20-30 points, or more, Stallings is likely to be in a bad mood again. Also, this is one game in which the Commodores should win the boards.