#13 Vanderbilt: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #13
Conference Rank: #2 Southeastern Conference
2009-10: 24-9, 12-4
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kevin Stallings (213-137 at Vanderbilt, 336-200 overall)
Vanderbilt may have lost their top two scorers, but they are in position to replace both Jermaine Beal and A.J. Ogilvy. Certainly their offense will be missed, but the Commodores have ball handlers that are capable of running the show and big men who can do a little bit of scoring and be more of a physical presence in the paint than Ogilvy ever was.
Key Losses: G Jermaine Beal, C A.J. Ogilvy
Replacing Ogilvy will be a group effort and the newcomers will play a role in that. Rod Odom is the most physically ready to play at this level as a true freshman. He may not be ready to do a ton of scoring, but he can hit the glass and play solid defense right away. Power forward James Siakam and center Josh Henderson will need a little more time before they turn into major contributors. Kyle Fuller is a speedy combo guard who will likely have to play some quality minutes as a backup point guard during his freshman campaign.
Brad Tinsley will step into the starting point guard role and take over the leadership left behind by Beal. Tinsley started last season with Beal by his side, but now Tinsley will feel a little more pressure without another quality and experienced ball handler in the backcourt. The 6-3 junior has never been asked to do too much scoring, but he does have a decent mid-range game and can certainly increase his 6.9 points per game average of a year ago. John Jenkins was a superb sixth man a year ago and is more than ready to step into a starting role. At 6-4 Jenkins has the size to attack the basket, but he spent most of his freshman campaign knocking down three-pointers. Jeffery Taylor will start on the other wing and he does everything quite well. On top of his 13.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest, Taylor is a fine passer and a great defender. Lance Goulbourne should provide most of the depth for Jenkins and Taylor on the wings.
The frontcourt returns their fair share of talent as well, most notably Andre Walker. The 6-7, 220 pound junior went largely unappreciated last season, but he did all the dirty work to free up space for Ogilvy. It was also Walker that played the best defense in the paint. Without Ogivly, Walker will need to continue to develop his offensive game and turn into an interior scorer. After averaging 6.1 points per game with Ogilvy taking a majority of the touches in the paint, Walker could turn into a surprisingly effective player on both ends of the floor. Darshawn McClellan will not be the scoring answer in the paint, but he is an experienced post player who can eat up some minutes at the four or five spot.
Who to Watch:
The real question is who is going to replace Ogilvy at the center position. Festus Ezeli has the size at 6-11 and 255 pounds. He is a bruiser under the basket and has slowly developed into a decent interior scorer and a strong rebounder and defender. Yet, whether or not he can keep it up while playing 20 to 25 minutes per game remains to be seen. Steve Tchiengang is the other option. He has not been as effective as Ezeli on the glass or in the shot blocking department, but he is a tough player who can battle with anybody in the paint.
If this team gets production from Ezeli and Tchiengang, they will not only make it back to the NCAA Tournament, but do some major damage once they get there. The scoring of Beal and Ogilvy can be replaced, but it will not need to be since this group will be much tougher on defense. Everywhere on the court Vanderbilt has a shutdown defender and players like Taylor, Jenkins and Walker can do more than enough scoring for the Commodores to be a major player in the SEC.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Brad Tinsley, Junior, Guard, 6.9 ppg
John Jenkins, Sophomore, Guard, 11.0 ppg
Jeffery Taylor, Junior, Guard, 13.3 ppg
Andre Walker, Junior, Forward, 6.1 ppg
Festus Ezeli, Junior, Center, 3.8 ppg
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