So far for Commodore fans it has been a season that hasn't quite lived up to expectations. Sadly many on the VandyMania boards are negative. However, thinking about the season thus far, I thought I'd put together mid-term grades for the team and the program.
The Record 8-6 Grade - B-
Seriously this is a tough one to figure out. In my heart I honestly believed we'd be better than this when I considered the team prior to October 15. Notre Dame was a road game I figured we'd have a shot at. Little did anyone know they'd be a top 10 team. UConn was expected to be tough, so was Indiana. So lets look objectively at the 6 losses. Four have been to top 20 opponents (UConn, Indiana, Notre Dame, and Kentucky). The other two losses have come on the road to Michigan (possibly one of the hottest teams in the country at present) and at Auburn an SEC road game that we all know can be difficult those games can be. Honestly I had expected to win on the road and thought that Michigan and Auburn were good chances. Considering the losses a few minor bounces in our favor and we could easily be 10-4.
Our wins. Alabama is our best win, no doubt. Throw in College of Charleston, Tulane, and East Tennessee State, as decent wins, and things are all right. The other four wins were really teams we should beat and did, without much of a problem.
Coaching Staff - B-
Again, this is very tough. Losing Coach Janckovich within a week of the beginning of the season hurt us far more than many care to state. The whys and wonderment will continue to swirl around the program until we can have a season start without losing a player or coach. The staff has had to adapt to its new chemistry without coach J, and help develop a youth team, and yes folks we are very young at this moment. Game management has been a problem for me. The recent Kentucky game was an excellent example of where I played coach and was begging for a timeout to be called as UK began their run. However, I am not a coach, I am a fan, and I cannot say why those things don't happen. It does frustrate me a great deal. Also watching this team squander leads is troublesome too, the Michigan game is the one that hits me. On the other hand, watching the team grow is noticeable too. There is clearly quick development going on with the freshmen and all three are contributing to the team this season. Again, playing the "what if", had we taken the Michigan and Auburn games I'd be happy as heck with the staff.
The fans. C.
No I don't grade myself a ‘C’, nor do I intend to go at many of the Vandy faithful. I just am disappointed at things like the Belle Meade section being basically empty during most of the season, only to see many of the seats filled over the last two games with Alabama Crimson, or Kentucky blue. Seeing season ticket holders sell their seats to visiting fans is bothersome too. On the plus side those who are faithful cheer like crazy, and still make Memorial one of the loudest courts in the country. For those who join me up in 3F...we were outnumbered big time against Kentucky, but we stayed with them volume wise nearly all night. The students have been out in force the last couple of games and that is great to see.
Now the players (in order of class)
Matt Carter - No Grade
As a walk-on he cannot expect much. His energy on the bench is great, and he is a fine person. He has gotten very little playing time. Matt given my choice I'd give you an A for heart and sticking to the team, even though you get little or no glory.
Matt Freije - A-
Matt always gives 100%. Sometime though he looks out of sync and lost. I cannot say if it is the offensive pattern, or if he is tired. I really want him to step up just a bit more in the big games, especially on the road when we need his leadership.
Russell Lakey - B-
Point guard is the hardest position on the court. Russell plays well, but when he doesn't really drive the lane and look to score some points, it decreases his performance and creates fewer assist opportunities. Russell is a quite leader and was a key to victory in the Alabama game. He needs more consistency every night. His defense is great and fun to watch.
Scott Hundley - B+
Scott is a player you have to love to watch. The best thing he does is hustle - all the time. It appears that Scott has improved his offensive game, and is one of the few Vanderbilt players who look to drive to the hole. He shows no fear. His defensive play is great and unrelenting. Consistency holds Scott back just a bit. I believe that Scott should get a chance to start and play more than 20 minutes. I think he'd put up so good number offensively.
Brian Thornton - A-
Brian has done so much more than I expected. He battles down low and has been doing a better job of staying out of foul trouble. He is much better producing points down low. I'd like to see a jump shot enter into his game a bit more. Brian used the weights to his advantage more than anyone else. Holding him back right now (in my opinion) is that he doesn't move in the post that much to work and get himself open. He is our best rebounder and gives us a presence down low. Certainly he is the most improved player on the team this year.
Jason Holwerda - C+
I have been a Jason supported since day one. &n