Back From Break

Vanderbilt returns from week off to host Austin Peay on Saturday

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As Vanderbilt looks to close out the nonconference portion of its schedule with four games in eight days, it is hopeful a weak-long break in the campaign has allowed for some self reflection and self assessment.

The Commodores (5-4) have fallen on a three-game losing streak and seen their offensive production slide. But the silver lining for third-year head coach Jerry Stackhouse is he’s been able to sit back and really study why his squad has strayed from the path in recent outings. 

“I was able to see some things on tape that we can get better at. That’s the most exciting part for me is that we’re figuring things out that are going to help us against teams in our league,” Stackhouse said this week. “That’s what these nonconference games are for. Yes, we’d love to win ‘em all. We’re not happy about it, even though we understand that there’s growth and disappointments in the last three outings, the good thing about it is we’re learning some things about ourselves and we’re getting better for the long run. That’ll be really good for us down the line.”

Vanderbilt returns to the court at 1:30 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Austin Peay. It then heads to Hawai’i for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic starting Wednesday in Honolulu, Hawaii, where it is guaranteed three games.

“Just like we’ve talked about, just making shots, just getting better rhythm, and we’ve put in some plays to get us more movement,” Vandy junior guard Jordan Wright said about the offense. “We’ve gotten stagnant at times throughout the last three games, really. Just getting more movement of the ball, just getting people in the right places, just getting open shots.

“I think everything is fixable. We’re definitely a better team than we’re showing right now. We have better players than what the numbers are showing right now. Everything is fixable, it’s really just being stagnant on offense, letting it stick. But it’s all correctable errors. We had three assists the last game — Scotty (Pippen) averaged that by his self last year. Everything is fixable.”

Austin Peay (4-5) comes to Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday having lost back-to-back games and three in a row against Division I competition. The Governors will also be playing their third -straight road game.

Senior guard Tariq Silver (14.1 ppg) is pacing four Governors who average more than 11.9 points per game while freshman center Eli Hutchins-Everett is collecting more than seven rebounds per contest. Austin Peay makes more than nine 3-pointers per game as a team.

Stackhouse noted that his team has not only been allowing too many made 3s in recent games but also allowing too many 3-point attempts. To try to combat that issue he may change lineups Saturday and next week to help turn the Commodores’ fortunes in the other direction.

“I think it’s just (about) overall confidence and morale, honestly,” Wright said. “Guys are getting a lot of individual work in now that they’re done with school. So it’s getting that confidence back, getting that groove back. I know it’s been helpful for me, just getting back in the gym myself – I haven’t played well yet.

“I can speak for everybody when I say just getting that confidence back has been the biggest thing.”

• Vanderbilt and Austin Peay have met 18 times with the Commodores winning 17 of those matchups.

• Vandy has won 14 in a row in the series with Austin Peay last winning in 1939.

• Vandy has used the same starting lineup in all nine games this season.

• Vanderbilt is 64-9 all-time against programs from the Ohio Valley Conference.

• The Commodores have now made at least two 3s in 48 straight games.

Trey Thomas has played in 34 straight games for the Commodores.

• Wright has started 24 straight games for Vanderbilt.

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.