Three thoughts: ‘Dores defeat Union

Vanderbilt women’s basketball wrapped up its exhibition slate on Sunday by dominating the Union University Bulldogs 93-43. Here are three thoughts about the game and how they could affect the season.

Three-point shooting

Last season Vanderbilt led the SEC in three-point percentage at 36.9 percent. However, they were tenth in three point attempts, taking about 14 per game. In the two exhibition games this season, Vanderbilt has taken a total of 45 shots from behind the arc, including a massive 27 Sunday against Union, and shot at a 33 percent clip. This appeared to be by design, as many Commodore possessions included repetitive slash-and-kicks until someone was open on the wing.

The frontcourt players also often looked for open shooters in the corners while they were inside. I don’t expect Vanderbilt to take more than 20 threes a game, but it certainly looks as if this will be a much bigger part of its offense. It also should be noted that in new head coach Stephanie White’s final season as coach of the Indiana Fever, the Fever were third in the WNBA in three-point attempts with 21 per game.

Freshman play

One of the most interesting subplots to this season is the development of the freshmen on the team (there are no sophomores). Unsurprisingly, most of the buzz has surrounded 5-star recruit LeaLea Carter. However, its seems that wing Erin Whalen could have just as large in impact. Whalen tore up the preseason, averaging 17 points per game on a 52 percemt clip. This is a scorching start for anyone, let alone a first-year. Forward Kayla Overbeck has also gotten off to a great start, averaging 14 points per game, while shooting 55 percent from the floor and 89 percent from the free-throw line. Lastly, first-year guard Kaleigh Clemons-Green led the team in minutes and did a splendid job as the floor general, especially in the second half. If these performances are a sign of things to come, the women’s basketball program will be in good hands this season and beyond.

Full-court defense

Vanderbilt held Union to a miniscule 14 made field goals in the entire game. They also held the Bulldogs to 24 percent from three and 25 percent from the field altogether. That being said, the most impressive numbers were in the turnover category. The Commodores forced the Bulldogs into 24 turnovers, with 16 coming in the first half. A large part of this was Vanderbilt’s full-court press and trap. White has repeatedly said that she wants this team to run on both ends, and this game certainly displayed that. The players were quick to trap and did their share of gambling for steals. The big question will be how aggressive White will be against better teams especially in conference play. Only time will tell, but this was surely a dominant defensive performance for the ‘Dores.

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