clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A dangerous-but-flawed Vanderbilt team awaits NC State in Chicago

A 10:30 tipoff??? Let me speak to your supervisor!

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 09 Grambling State at Vanderbilt Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time once again for the Legends of Basketball Showcase. People! Please, hold your applause. Thank you. Ahem.

NC State is playing Vanderbilt in Chicago Saturday night as the last of a quadruple-header, which is to say that we may be torturing ourselves well into Sunday. We all need to cross our fingers that the 8 p.m. game between Dayton and Wyoming does not go into overtime, as that would render our current tip time of 10:30 as merely vague estimate.

Late Night with Wolfpack Hoops! Kinda looking forward to the oddness of it, honestly.

Anyway. Vanderbilt.

Look at all this unremarkable stuff

Vandy in '23 Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
Vandy in '23 Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
Offense 105.0 (118) 50.2 (169) 19.9 (232) 28.5 (191) 49.1 (204) 34.5 (138)
Defense 98.2 (91) 47.6 (100) 17.1 (276) 25.1 (61) 48.2 (129) 31.1 (89)

Vanderbilt comes into this one at 5-5 overall, a victim of some aggressive non-conference scheduling. The Commodores have a one-point home win over Pitt (show-offs) and completely acceptable losses to Memphis and St. Mary’s—but they also scheduled a handful of teams in that KenPom 100-150 Danger Zone and got burned a couple times.

Give Jerry Stackhouse credit for the willingness to play a lot of tough games, I guess, despite losing his best player to the NBA. If this Vanderbilt team finds a way to turn a corner in SEC play, it might even matter. Probably not, though. The whoopsie at home to Grambling last time out did not help.

The Commodores have four players averaging in double figures this season, but none more than big man Liam Robbins’ 12.3 PPG. Do not let that modest number fool you, though, because Robbins is doing that in about 23 minutes per game. (He tends to get in foul trouble.) The seven-footer is shooting almost 70% inside the arc and finds his way to the free throw line often. Now, if only somebody on that coaching staff could convince him to stop shooting threes (after this game).

A game-within-the-game early will be Robbins vs. DJ Burns in a battle to see who can get the other into foul trouble first. Both guys average almost five fouls per 40 minutes. Robbins has the height advantage, but Burns the width. This one could go either way.

The guy assuming the largest workload for Vandy is veteran wing Jordan Wright (6’6, 220). who did not play in the team’s last game after suffering a hip injury against Pitt. His status isn’t a decisively good or bad thing for either team since he’s never been an efficient scorer.

The man to really keep an eye on is Miles Stute (6’7, 215), who led the SEC in three-point shooting at 43.2% last season and is shooting better than 51% from outside this year. He’s made six or more threes in a game twice already.

The good news is that he’s one-dimensional; in fact, his stat line looks like a basketball simulation gone haywire: 33-64 from three, 8-27 from two. He’s also confoundingly turnover-prone for someone who is primarily a jump-shooter. The bad news is that the whole one-dimensional thing hasn’t mattered, turnovers aside.

The giveaways are a sign of a larger problem, though. Turnovers have been a problem for Vandy in general because the backcourt lacks playmakers. It’s not a good passing team. UC Davis transfer Ezra Manjon (6’0, 170) is undersized for a lead guard and has a problem in that he’s 1-10 from three and can’t get downhill (12 FTAs).

Trey Thomas (6’0, 160) is a three-point specialist, not a distributor. Tyrin Lawrence, who at 6’4 runs 200 pounds, seems to have a solid bull-in-China-shop mode, but isn’t creating much offense outside of his own and has the turnover rate you’d expect from somebody trying to get downhill a lot.

There are good pieces on this team, clearly, and on the nights they do limit turnovers, they tend to be successful. This matchup looks rough for them, though. Almost 11% of Vanderbilt’s offensive possessions have ended in a steal, a rate that ranks 284th. NC State’s defense ranks 14th in steal rate.

Vandy will take a lot of threes, and that’s always a wild card. But State has to like the matchup in this one.

KenPom likes State by five.