Alabama; the good and bad

It's amazing how important a single free throw can be. Jeffery Taylor hit one of two free throws with six seconds remaining to knock off Alabama 65-64 in Tuscaloosa.

The reaction to that game would have been polar opposites based on the outcome. Since Vandy walked away with the win, people are describing it as a gritty, tough, hard-fought victory. Well if the Commodores would have lost, everybody would be up in arms about the team's poor free throw shooting, inability to stop Mikhail Torrance, and their inability to capitalize on ample opportunities. Taylor's shot kept the squad's winning streak alive, now sitting at seven games.

The win over Alabama helped expose a few things about Vanderbilt, some good and some bad:

Vanderbilt's poor free throw shooting in close games

In the three Vanderbilt defeats (Cincinnati, @Illinois, Western Kentucky) the team shot a combined 66% (47-for-71) from the charity stripe. That's not going to get it done. Individually, Vandy has some really good free throw shooters. Typically John Jenkins, A.J. Ogilvy, Jermaine Beal, and Brad Tinsley can all be counted on to knock down shots. The problem is that the team is still giving away too many points during the course of a game.

Stallings is only going to give seven or eight players quality minutes

Stallings let it be known that he was going to stick to a nine-man rotation for the majority of the season. In the Florida and Alabama games, we were able to see the distribution of minutes when things were close. If he could, Stallings would never take Beal or Andre Walker off the floor. Each will play around 35 minutes in any tight game. Ogilvy, Tinsley, Taylor, and Jenkins will each play 20-25 minutes a contest. That leaves about 30 minutes to split between Lance Goulbourne, Festus Ezeli, and Steve Tchiengang.

Jeffery Taylor has become Vanderbilt's Darrelle Revis

Just as Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets has built a reputation as the NFL's premier shut-down corner, Taylor is quickly becoming Vandy's defensive MVP. Alabama's Mikhail Torrance was torching the Commodore defense. Stallings then put Taylor on Torrance and was able to slow him down. The same thing happened in the Florida game. Taylor's athleticism, quickness, and size helped slow down the Gators guards. It will be fun to see how quickly Stallings decides to have Taylor guard Kentucky's John Wall.

In Coach Stallings' post-game radio show, he told a fun story about the leadership and confidence that is developing amongst the players. The whole week, Stallings had preached about how important this week was to the season. They needed to win two tough road games to establish themselves as a league contender. After the game, Stallings said that Festus spoke up. He said something to the effect of: "That was only Part 1."

Part 2 will come against South Carolina this Saturday. Vanderbilt is establishing themselves as a player in the SEC East. With road games against Kentucky and Tennessee waiting at the end of January, it's vital that Vandy beat the Gamecocks and Auburn next week. Top Stories