A Closer Look at the Struggles of Vanderbilt Basketball

Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletics

Vanderbilt has endured a sluggish start to SEC play.

While there are some positives, many issues plague this squad on a nightly basis. If the Commodores can correct these issues, expect the wins to start coming in. If not, the season will continue to look like a rebuilding season for second-year coach Jerry Stackhouse.

The Positives

The biggest positive this season has been the outstanding performances of Scottie Pippen Jr. The sophomore guard has stepped up this season and provided the ‘Dores with most of their offense, averaging 21 points and five assists per game. Pippen currently sits second on the SEC leaderboards in points and assists per game. 

Fellow sophomore Dylan Disu has been able to provide help offensively for the team in multiple ways. The Pflugerville, Tex. native has averaged almost 17 points and just over eight rebounds per contest, which currently sits at third-best in the conference.

As a team, Vanderbilt does a few things very well. Currently, the Commodores sit at second in the conference with a 76.9 free throw percentage. The team is also an above-average three-point shooting team – hitting just about 37 percent of their threes. That’s good for sixth in the conference. Vanderbilt is in the middle of the conference in assists and points per game.

The Negatives

Aside from Pippen and Disu, the Commodores have struggled to find more scoring. Stackhouse has tried multiple starting lineups to increase production – without much success.

Myles Stute and Jordan Wright have been outstanding from three-point land this season, shooting 46 percent and 58 percent, respectively. It might be time to give someone like Wright, who averages just over 17 minutes per game, some more time on the floor to get those scoring numbers up and provide Pippen and Disu some help offensively.

Another area where the ‘Dores have struggled is on the defensive end of the floor. In the four conference games so far, Vandy has been outscored by an average of 11 points. This is due to a combination of things, including turnovers, allowing the opponent to shoot 53% from the floor, and — outside of Disu — really poor rebounding numbers.

How it can be fixed?

The biggest thing that could be fixed is Vanderbilt’s defensive aggressiveness. Far too often, the team’s lack of energy is apparent, like not closing out on shooters. Adding energy to Vanderbilt’s defensive game will create steals and improve its rebounding, which likely will end in more scoring.

Offensively, there are some personnel options to improve the overall scoring. Freshman guard Trey Thomas has come alive during conference play, reaching double figures twice. Giving Stute and Wright more time will help continue the trend of efficient three-point shooting. Wright has also shot exceptionally well from inside the arc this season, hitting just over 50% of his shots.

It’s a tall order to ask for all of this to happen this season, especially in a highly-competitive conference like the SEC. Vandy fans can only hope that this young, talented team with an up-and-coming coach will emerge from its growing pains to become a contender on a yearly basis.