Men's Hoops: A view from 3F

Sitting up in 3F and watching Friday night's game, you got a feeling that last year's 3-point bombers had come back to play in Memorial, but the undertone was completely different. Vandy put up 23 3-point shots Saturday and hit 8, but the bigger key was 30+ points in the paint. Kevin Stallings has finally made his mark.

This team is unlike many we've seen in Memorial in the last 10+ years. For four years we have heard about Coach Stallings' desire to get this team to a point where they will be a better team night in and night out, by hitting shots down low, close to the basket, and having a team that is unselfish with the ball. He was smiling last night. Vanderbilt racked up close to 40 points in the paint last night, most on either backdoor/slashing cuts, or offensive putbacks, or banging down low. The Commodores also dished out 20 assists.

What does this add up to? A whole new team. Matt Freije was spectacular in 19 minutes of play. He hit for 21 points, grabbed 7 rebound and the Upstate New York team could not find a way to shut him down. The only way to stop Matt Saturday was to put him on the bench for the last 13 minutes of the second half and let some of the younger players get more experience.

David Prybyszewski had his best game in Memorial, hitting for 17 points (one 3-pointer), grabbing 7 rebounds blocking 2 shots and adding a couple of nice assists to players cutting the lane. Scott Hundley scored 9 points in about a 5 minute span in the first half, grabbed a couple of rebounds and played some excellent defense in his 17 minutes of work. Jason Holwerda played good defense last night, and finished 2 very nice drives (one a reverse layup) but still looked tentative on offense.

The freshmen did their part too. Mario Moore had Memorial rocking. He scored 12 points (two 3-pointers) and had by my account 3 assists. He changed the tempo of the game. Julian Terrell had an up and down game, grabbing 9 rebounds, scoring 6 points, blocking 2 shots, but he turned the ball over 7 times. Adam Payton showed his quickness by coming up with 3 steals, one leading to a breakaway slam dunk.

In fairness, the Upstate New York team looked tired, and only dressed 8 players. Coach Stalling plan was to substitute often (no one for Vandy played more than 23 minutes) and get everyone into the game. Even walk-ons Geoff Peck and Matt Carter saw action. Carter's 3-pointer in the last 1:30 of the game probably got the loudest cheer from the crowd of 4,374.

Game Notes: Bryson Kruger did not dress for the game. Brian Thorton looked a bit slow (although in fairness to him he was often doubled down low). Corey Smith had 6 points and several rebounds... he played some excellent defense against Lawrence Moten (the all-time leading scorer in the Big East when he played at Syracuse). Everyone who played scored except for Geoff Peck.

All in all it has been interesting to watch this team in the exhibition season, but the true test starts next Friday. It is a different style of basketball, and the season should bring some surprises.


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