The Vanderbilt women were overmatched in their SEC home opener as they went down 81-52 at the hands of Georgia. It doesn’t get any easier for the Lady Commodores as they now travel to Knoxville to face No. 7 Tennessee.
Here are the three keys:
Stop the big runs
The biggest problem for Vanderbilt so far this season has been that the Commodores have a habit of allowing big scoring runs to the opposition at inopportune times.
This bit Vandy against on Thursday night as their game against Georgia was blown apart by a 12-1 Bulldogs run late in the first quarter. This took a game where the two teams had been happily trading baskets, and turned it into a 22-9 Georgia lead entering the second quarter.
Vanderbilt has to find a way to stop these runs happening. When they are missing shots on offense the ‘Dores need to have a better transition defense game to keep things close. If they can do this – holding out until shots begin to fall again – then this team is good enough to upset other SEC teams.
No more turnovers
The other way to quickly fall out of games is by turning the ball over too often. Vanderbilt is a team that can score the basketball, but in order to fo that the Commodores have to take better care of the ball.
This has been a problem all season, but it is a problem that came to a head on Thursday night against Georgia. The Commodores turned the ball over 28 times – setting a new season-high in the process – allowing Georgia to pick up its largest winning margin ever against Vanderbilt in a 64-game series that began in 1979.
Vanderbilt cannot win games when turning the ball over at that rate, no team can. To stay in the game against Tennessee that turnover number needs to be cut in half at the very least.
Build around Chelsie Hall
Vanderbilt has two scorers in Chelsie Hall and Rachel Bell that can hit the shots to keep Vandy in games. Bell is a senior, while Hall is a freshman with years of eligibility ahead of her. Hall scored 17 points against Georgia, including 11 in the third quarter where she put the Commodores on her back and tried to pull them back into the game.
This is the kind of moxie that Vanderbilt needs if the 4-12 Commodores are to win games. Tennessee is a very, very good team – as always – so Vanderbilt needs to find a player to rely on and build around for the rest of this season and for the future of the program.