Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

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Jason94
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Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by Jason94 »

While to this point the performances have been pretty bad outside of the UNC-G game, the game against Bama A&M represented an outcome that was more in line with how we should handle the bad teams on our schedule. It wasn't a masterpiece, but it also wasn't a burning pile of excrement either.

The lineup we saw was a lot closer to what we would have expected at the start of the season, with health. No walkons starting, 4 of the 5 most talented players starting and playing the most minutes, and the 5th starter the post player who has done his best to play like a post player in Carter Lang. Off the bench we are starting to see more of Rivera-Torres, due to his willingness to put up shots, and his overall activeness. The rest of the players got time to spell the starters, and everyone was generally efficient, though not in a gaudy manner.

Lawrence played like we all were expecting him to play when it was announced that he was returning. He needs to do this consistently and against better opponents, as it is on him to carry the offensive load. Manjon has been the lone consistent bright spot, and is living up to his end of the "best backcourt in the SEC" deal. 12 points on 8 shots, 7 assists and 1 TO plus 2 steals. It is better when he doesn't have to carry the offensive load and can run the offense but pick his spots to be efficient. Lubin was also good and showed strength on the glass. Lang and Rivera-Torres also were strong on the glass, and their minutes will increase as they show consistency in getting after it on the glass. There is still some turnover issues, but as the responsibility of the offense moves to Lawrence, I anticipate that those turnovers will become less frequent.

I am a little disappointed with the play of Lewis, less that his shot is off, than his turnover issues. There is a pretty large dropoff from Manjon to Lewis, but Lewis is way ahead of Williams, who probably shouldn't see much PT outside of mop-up action. I'm not sure why West didn't see the court at all - while he hasn't been significantly better than Lewis and has been hesitant to shoot the ball, I do like that he has hit 9 of his 13 shots inside the arc and has gotten to the line 10 times so far in about 115 minutes. To put that into perspective, Thomas shot a total of 17 FTA all last season in about 750 minutes. West appears to have more raw talent than Lewis does, and has a lot more talent than Williams. Kamateros makes shots he is comfortable with, but isn't an offensive focal point. Good bench option as a stretch 5. We do miss Smith.

When Smith gets back and we are at full strength, the rotation should be some version of the following:

Manjon, Lawrence, Taylor, Smith and Lubin starting with Lang, Kamateros Rivera-Torres, Lewis and West off the bench. If Lewis' shot doesn't start falling I would be inclined to put him behind West, who is more talented and probably has a better chance to be a really good guard in the SEC. Roberts and Presley will play as needed, but at the moment are really far behind in terms of being ready to contribute against good competition. There is likely a good chance that they transfer out anyway, as at least two freshmen will do if past history is any indication.

Rivera-Torres is a little unpolished, but very talented and plays with a confidence that most Vandy players do not possess. The ability to put up shots is a little underrated even if the efficiency isn't there. Right now he is taking over 30% of the shots when he is only the floor. That is Scottie Pippen levels as a sophomore or junior. That is a higher percentage than any freshman we've ever had, even higher than that of Darius Garland during his short stint. The only two players who have taken a higher percentage of the shots while they were on the floor over the last 20 seasons than Rivera-Torres has so far has been Scottie Pippen as a sophomore and junior and Matt Freije as a junior and senior. One of two things are likely to happen with Rivera-Torres. 1 is that he becomes a bit more selective and his efficiency shoots up as a sophomore. 2 is that he continues to dominate the ball but starts making more of the shots he is taking. Route 1 describes a player like Shan Foster and route 2 is a player like Freije or Pippen.  I'm not saying he will be as efficient as Foster or Freije, but he could easily be as efficient as Pippen. Overall there are a lot of signs that Rivera-Torres could be a really good player for us.
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dore74
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by dore74 »

Honest question: without a true center and with the caliber of players we have are we better than a .500 team this year? As noted earlier by you you, D hasn’t been very good and to my untrained eye we’ve seen slow, not to mention our shooting issues.
vandamnit
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by vandamnit »

Good post, Jason. I liked watching the rotation this past game. It seemed planned and orderly. Players came in using a largely staggered entry and exit, and it seemed like each player supported the overall gameplan. I did wonder about West's playing time a little. He does seem to have a good upside, though I am not sure he surpasses Lewis in terms of shooting. After watching the first 7 games, I am also quite confident that the return of Smith into the lineup will be no small addition. Been pleased with Lang's effort and Lubin's talent. Really appreciated the detailed discussion of Rivera Torres's gameplay and contributions. Hurt a little to read about your future transfer prediction for Roberts as I think he is also showing some real potential, but you are probably right given overall transfer rates and trends.
Jason94
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by Jason94 »

dore74 wrote: Mon Dec 04, 2023 4:50 am Honest question: without a true center and with the caliber of players we have are we better than a .500 team this year? As noted earlier by you you, D hasn’t been very good and to my untrained eye we’ve seen slow, not to mention our shooting issues.
My disappointment is how far below (my impression of) our talent level we've played so far. There is no reason why we should have lost to Presbyterian, or gotten blown out of our own gym by a very average BC team. Like last season, we have started very poorly, and to the chagrin of many on this board, our final efficiency numbers reflected that poor start.

I would prefer that we had a little more height in the frontcourt, but it appears that we should be able to rebound the ball well. As we observed last year, we did pretty well even after Robbins went down for the 2nd time, due to the excellent play of our guards. We have more talent than we did last season IMO, we just have to play closer to it. My overall view is that when CJS messes around with the lineup (even when he has good reason to do so - namely motivational) we typically play much more poorly than when he has a set rotation. He probably feels that he needs to use PT and starting as a means to get his players in the proper mindset, but while the end results are great, the immediate effect of the lineup shuffling has been poor play.

IMO, the sooner the rotation tightens up (or the sooner that CJS feels he can tighten up the rotation) the sooner things will turn around, and it will very likely be a stark difference from the first 7 games.
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by bhoyal »

Jason94 wrote: Mon Dec 04, 2023 9:22 am
dore74 wrote: Mon Dec 04, 2023 4:50 am Honest question: without a true center and with the caliber of players we have are we better than a .500 team this year? As noted earlier by you you, D hasn’t been very good and to my untrained eye we’ve seen slow, not to mention our shooting issues.
My disappointment is how far below (my impression of) our talent level we've played so far. There is no reason why we should have lost to Presbyterian, or gotten blown out of our own gym by a very average BC team. Like last season, we have started very poorly, and to the chagrin of many on this board, our final efficiency numbers reflected that poor start.

I would prefer that we had a little more height in the frontcourt, but it appears that we should be able to rebound the ball well. As we observed last year, we did pretty well even after Robbins went down for the 2nd time, due to the excellent play of our guards. We have more talent than we did last season IMO, we just have to play closer to it. My overall view is that when CJS messes around with the lineup (even when he has good reason to do so - namely motivational) we typically play much more poorly than when he has a set rotation. He probably feels that he needs to use PT and starting as a means to get his players in the proper mindset, but while the end results are great, the immediate effect of the lineup shuffling has been poor play.

IMO, the sooner the rotation tightens up (or the sooner that CJS feels he can tighten up the rotation) the sooner things will turn around, and it will very likely be a stark difference from the first 7 games.
I hope it will be different. Team rankings . com gives us less than a 30% chance of beating San Fran this week. :o :shock:
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ForeverHopeful
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by ForeverHopeful »

I think he holds players out when they aren't "getting" his defensive schemes in practice or in the games. I know that was the case with Noah Shelby, and he has alluded to JRT needing some work on that.
Jason94
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by Jason94 »

bhoyal wrote: Mon Dec 04, 2023 9:32 am
Jason94 wrote: Mon Dec 04, 2023 9:22 am
dore74 wrote: Mon Dec 04, 2023 4:50 am Honest question: without a true center and with the caliber of players we have are we better than a .500 team this year? As noted earlier by you you, D hasn’t been very good and to my untrained eye we’ve seen slow, not to mention our shooting issues.
My disappointment is how far below (my impression of) our talent level we've played so far. There is no reason why we should have lost to Presbyterian, or gotten blown out of our own gym by a very average BC team. Like last season, we have started very poorly, and to the chagrin of many on this board, our final efficiency numbers reflected that poor start.

I would prefer that we had a little more height in the frontcourt, but it appears that we should be able to rebound the ball well. As we observed last year, we did pretty well even after Robbins went down for the 2nd time, due to the excellent play of our guards. We have more talent than we did last season IMO, we just have to play closer to it. My overall view is that when CJS messes around with the lineup (even when he has good reason to do so - namely motivational) we typically play much more poorly than when he has a set rotation. He probably feels that he needs to use PT and starting as a means to get his players in the proper mindset, but while the end results are great, the immediate effect of the lineup shuffling has been poor play.

IMO, the sooner the rotation tightens up (or the sooner that CJS feels he can tighten up the rotation) the sooner things will turn around, and it will very likely be a stark difference from the first 7 games.
I hope it will be different. Team rankings . com gives us less than a 30% chance of beating San Fran this week. :o :shock:
San Fran is not a bad team, but we should beat them if we aspire to make the tournament. They also did lose to ASU and did get beat by Grand Canyon, btu they blew out Minnesota. Our margin for error is pretty small at this point.
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by bhoyal »

Tournament? Which one? We certainly won't make the big dance.
Jason94
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by Jason94 »

bhoyal wrote: Mon Dec 04, 2023 1:02 pm Tournament? Which one? We certainly won't make the big dance.
I'm afraid you are probably right, but the team should play as though they think they can still make it.
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Re: Progress and rotation thoughts (long)

Post by UltimateVUFan »

ForeverHopeful wrote: Mon Dec 04, 2023 9:45 am I think he holds players out when they aren't "getting" his defensive schemes in practice or in the games. I know that was the case with Noah Shelby, and he has alluded to JRT needing some work on that.
This is the only knock on JRT, as he is often out of position on defense. Offensively he is one of the best freshmen I can remember in a looooong time. I really hope Stack can hold onto him when other programs come with NIL offers.
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