Nashville, TN – In a battle of mentor versus underling, Kevin ranked Vanderbilt Commodores into battle against year head coach of the Monmouth Hawks.
Rice spent the last five years on the bench for the 'Dores, and while he certainly learned a great deal from Stallings, it will likely take a while to get the Monmouth program to the level he expects. So far this season, the Hawks have lost all five of their games, relying on a roster with limited collegiate experience. After four straight setbacks by 32 or more points, Monmouth was competitive in its most recent affair, though the 79-71 loss to Brown on Tuesday was still disappointing.
Since suffering its only loss of the season to Cleveland State, Vanderbilt has responded with three consecutive wins. On Monday, the squad captured the Legends Classic title with a 64-62 decision over Oregon State of the Pac-12 Conference. The Commodores compete in the SEC and figure to be locked in a three-way battle for Eastern Division supremacy with Florida and Kentucky all season.
Monmouth and Vanderbilt met on just one previous occasion in a 2001 tournament, and the Hawks won the game.
It is obvious that Monmouth has struggled mightily at both ends of the court, as the team is averaging a mere 55.0 ppg on 33.8 percent shooting from the field, including 21.7 percent from three-point range. The club is surrendering 86.4 ppg on 55.2 percent efficiency by opponents, including 48.2 percent from behind the arc. There is not a single double-digit scorer on the Hawks' roster, as Ed White is tops with 8.6 rpg. In the eight-point loss to Brown, Monmouth got a big effort from Andrew Nicholas, as he shot 11-of-18 from the field en route to 24 points. Mike Myers Keitt added 14 points for the Hawks, who surrendered 61.2 percent shooting from the field to the Bears.
Vanderbilt guard Brad Tinsley was the hero against Oregon State on Monday, as his jumper with 4.5 seconds remaining was the difference. John Jenkins paced the Commodores with 14 points, while Jeffery Taylor pitched in 13 points and eight rebounds. Coach Stallings can't be happy about the fact that his team turned the ball over 22 times, but the 'Dores did shoot 56 percent from the field in the second half. Jenkins is the top scorer on the roster so far this season to the surprise of no one, as the First-Team All-SEC performer is netting 20.8 ppg on the strength of his 42.5 percent accuracy from three-point range. Taylor checks in with 14.8 ppg, while Tinsely (11.0 ppg) and Lance Goulbourne (10.8 ppg) provide balance.