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Vanderbilt falls to Bucknell 75-72: Three takeaways

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Vanderbilt falls to Bucknell 75-72: Three takeaways

Jordan Grapentine

Vanderbilt fell to Bucknell 75-72 on Monday night, sliding to 2-2 on the season. Here are three takeaways from the shocking loss.

1. Defensive Rebounding

Vanderbilt allowed offensive rebounds on 30.8 percent of Bucknell’s missed shots. If taken as a season average, that’d be good for 198th in the country according to KenPom.com, and Bucknell is well below the average quality of teams on Vandy’s schedule. If Bucknell of the Patriot League can do this on the offensive glass, I don’t want to know what SEC schools will do to Vanderbilt every week. Overall, Vandy lost the rebound battle 33-27. The absence of Damian Jones was painfully obvious, leaving nobody left to suck up close misses. Guards struggled to block out too, letting shooters dart past and make plays on the ball. Maybe an all-but-empty Memorial Gym and early lead created malaise on the defensive end. Regardless, rebounding is a mindset and the Commodores weren’t in it.

2. Penetration

Without Wade Baldwin IV flying past defenders, Vanderbilt struggled to created penetration off the dribble, shown by the fact that Vandy attempted fewer free throws (nine) than Bucknell made (13). Early on, Vandy didn’t need to drive hard in the lane, making its first five shots from the field and jumping out to a peak lead of 11 points halfway through the first half. Shooting then regressed toward the mean (as shooting does) but the ‘Dores kept firing jumpers, attempting only three layups — of which they missed two — over the rest of the half. They entered the locker room down 40-38.

Woes continued in the second half. Nobody in black and gold seemed able to beat his defender one-one-one, leaving the offense stuck in a loop of perimeter passing, finding either shaky post-up situations for Kornet, Baptiste and Roberson or contested jump shots from farther out. Hard cuts to the rim create energy on the court, energy a sparse Commodore crowd couldn’t create for them. If this team wants more high percentage chances, it’ll need veteran handlers like LaChance or young talents like Peyton Willis and Joe Toye to take the responsibility. Someone needs to get opposing defenses turning heads and collapsing.

3. Struggling youth

In 46 combined minutes, Vandy’s three freshmen (Willis, Djery Baptiste and Clevon Brown Jr.) plus sophomore Joe Toye registered the following stat line: four points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and two turnovers. That’s, um, not very good.

Additionally, none of the young guys started, disappointing many Vandy faithful hoping Toye would play a larger role in the offense coming off a freshman year filled with stretches of promise and moments of brilliance. Today, he looked frantic and overwhelmed. Willis took care of the ball well during his nine minutes at point guard but scored just two points and failed to register an assist. Baptiste snagged five boards during his 13 minutes relieving Kornet, but three were during offensive scrums stemming from his own missed shots. Someone needs to remind Baptiste he’s the biggest man on the floor (6’10″, 240 pounds of pure muscle), because he looked timid, getting bullied by his smaller Bucknell counterparts. He will learn to use his size and strength as he gets more playing time under his belt, but if Coach Bryce Drew wants any depth at the center position, Baptiste needs to learn. Fast.

Vanderbilt plays undefeated Butler on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Las Vegas. Coverage is on Fox Sports 1.

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