Adams: Stallings' pep talk worked

I guess the best part about being a sports fan is the emotional rollercoaster that your favorite team can put you on. I mean seriously, how bad did you feel after the Georgia loss? In retrospect, it was a trap game, but it still felt like a punch to the stomach while it was happening. Then, Vanderbilt comes out and crushes Tennessee by 19.

When Jermaine Beal hit that cross-over step back three in the second half, I felt like the Memorial was going to explode. Who knows how meaningful that win will be in March, but man it was fun to watch.

The story from the game was easily the emergence of Jeffery Taylor's full offensive arsenal. I've been very critical of his outside game and inability to consistently knock down jumpers. Against the Vols, he gave us a glimpse of how high his ceiling is. With his quickness and jumping ability, he may be unstoppable if he his perimeter shots.

Coach Stallings gave him a funny pep talk before the game:

"He and I had a little discussion yesterday before practice," Stallings said. "I told him that he's one of the only guys I've ever coached who is a better shooter than he thinks he is."

That seemed to do the job. Taylor finished with 26 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

"(Coach Stallings) wanted me to shoot the way I do in practice," Taylor said. "He wanted me to believe in my shot as much as he does. Just getting confidence and shooting, that really worked."

Taylor also drained all 12 of his free throw attempts. With his ability to draw contact, his free throw percentage will be huge in March.

I think we can all agree that Jermaine Beal is the leader of this team, but the length of the Commodores' tournament run is in the hands of Jeffery Taylor.

Above all, the season sweep against Tennessee helps solidify Vandy's tournament resume. The ‘Dores are currently ranked in the top 25 in both polls, and are in the top 20 in a number of key tournament committee resources. Both Ken Pomeroy and CollegeRPI.com have Vanderbilt at #19. Some have them even higher. CBSSposts.com RPI has the Commodores listed at #11.

What does this all mean?

Well, realistically Vanderbilt has positioned itself for a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. That would give the squad a great chance at making a Sweet 16 run. To be honest, given the talent this team has, I would be very disappointed if they weren't playing in the second weekend of the Big Dance. The seeding process is always in flux, but I am pretty confident that their spot in the field is secured. Although it would be a stretch, wins over Ole Miss and Kentucky next week would put Vanderbilt in the conversation for a 2 or 3 seed.

That's the problem that Coach Stallings will be facing. The LSU game this Saturday is a classic trap game. The Tigers are really bad. A media personality on a local Nashville radio station said that LSU is the worst SEC team in the last couple decades. They are 9-15 overall and 0-10 in conference play. If my research is correct, the Tigers have only beaten three teams with a winning record: Indiana State, Western Kentucky, and Southeastern Louisiana. Not really a murderers' row. Much-improved Arkansas just beat LSU by 35 points. The Commodores cannot take this game off. I don't see any way in the world that LSU comes to Memorial and walks away with a victory, but stranger things have happened.

On a closing note, it looks like John Jenkins will be out against LSU, still recovering from a nasty stomach virus. The freshman sharpshooter began to feel ill before the Georgia game and had to be admitted to the hospital before the victory over the Vols. It will be up to Beal and Brad Tinsley to pick up the majority of the slack. Also expect to see more minutes from Lance Goulbourne.

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