Men's hoops: Stallings reflects on Arkansas loss

Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings spoke Thursday about Wednesday evening's 60-50 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks, and looked ahead to Saturday's road game at South Carolina. "We're pretty disappointed in this camp right now," said Stallings. USC Assistant Coach Larry Nestor also spoke about the psychology of playing Vanderbilt for a second time.

Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings spoke Thursday on the SEC Teleconference about the Commodores' 60-50 loss to Arkansas:

"We're just not a very good team right now, which is obvious by our record, and obvious our performances," said Stallings.  "It's pretty discouraging.  We thought that we would be better, and we thought that we would have more to show for it by now.

"We're pretty disappointed in this camp right now, but all we can do is keep battling and keep fighting and trying to get better."

How will Stallings approach the last three regular-season games, knowing that most of the team's preseason goals have pretty much gone by the wayside?

"That's a tough question to answer," replied Stallings.  "At this point in the season you've pretty much tried everything, or at least I have.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, apparently.  Obviously there's not a lot to play for in terms of finishes or postseason or anything like that.  All we can do is try to get better.  We've got this same team coming back next year.  Our focus has to be on improving and on doing the best job we can, and still trying to scratch out some wins."

South Carolina defeated Vanderbilt 84-72 on Feb. 8.  Will Stallings be able to use payback as a motivation in the teams' second meeting this Saturday in Columbia?

"It's really tough to say, because South Carolina had beaten us badly the year before in here, and that didn't seem to matter when they came in this year.  Like I said, I'm not sure what really gets to these guys.  It's kind of tough sledding right now.  I would have thought, being in the condition we were in, having lost five in a row that we would have come with a much better effort, and that was not the case.

"We've had some problems that are pretty consistent.  We've tried to, as a coaching staff, work around those and coach around those, and help those.  But we've not been able to solve them entirely, obviously.  You hope they're getting better, and that over the course of time we'll grow out of this.  But there are shortcomings and problems.  Certain ones flare up.  You might shoot the ball well for a while and not get much inside, or then you might start getting the ball inside and doing something with it and not shooting the ball well, not taking care of the ball, not getting the kind of on-the-floor leadership that you need.  Not guarding, not rebounding, different things pop up at different times.

"We don't spend too much time in the locker room, after a win or a loss.  I usually reserve my comments for the next day, and such was the case last night.

"I think that every season you wonder if you're getting through to them at different times.  When things work, you always feel like you're getting through to them.  When things don't work, you never feel like you're getting through.  So it's kind of that all-or-nothing feeling that you get.

"It was just surprising to me that last night we weren't a little sharper.  Again, it's not like we were in a position to be having a mental letdown.  We should have been in a position where we're doing whatever it takes to get a job done.  For me, emotionally I go through every season and wonder sometimes whether I'm getting through to them or not.  But that's been when our team's been 25-5, and with the way our team is right now.  I think that's probably always the case for me."

South Carolina Assistant Coach Ernie Nestor talked about the psychology of playing Vanderbilt for a second time.

"Vanderbilt is a good basketball team.  They're a challenge for us to play," said Nestor.  "We're coming off two pretty debilitating losses.  So right now you're just sort of licking your wounds.  You're anxious to go back and play, so your guys can give a good effort.

"You have to come with great preparation, because everybody we're playing is capable of beating us.  We have to play at our maximum to have a chance to beat anybody on our schedule.  That is so key at this time of the year, because guys' legs are getting tired.  When you're 20-5, your legs may not be as tired as if you're going through the type of season we've had.

"We had good energy when we played Vanderbilt the first time, and that was what was so essential.  They're a very, very capable basketball team.  They have great offensive players in Freije and Thornton.  Both those kids have really given us tremendous problems over the last couple of years.  The Moore kid is a great addition, that little speed-guard who can score well from the perimeter.  So they have a lot of weapons.  It will be a challenge for our team to get back up and play against them." Top Stories