Vanderbilt Basketball: You Know You Missed It

December 2, 2009

One of the many reasons that I like college basketball season is that it gives me an excuse to rant about Vanderbilt’s basketball team. If I wrote or talked about Vanderbilt basketball during baseball season, people would listen to me even less than they normally do, because really, who cares about how good the Commodores will be this year? But when the season is in full swing, I feel like my discussion is warranted and that you have to listen to what I say. So, be prepared for another season of my complaining about Festus Ezeli’s perpetually outrageous assist-to-turnover ratio (1:43 last season, 0:5 this year), shameless overrating of Commodore players, and my newest crusade, which is Steve Tchiengang and Brad Tinsley’s inability to do anything useful on a basketball court. You’re going to love it.

For now, I just want to tell you that ESPN’s Jay Williams and Rob Stone are not good broadcasters. This explains why they’re doing the Missouri-Vanderbilt game on ESPNU at 9:30pm. Nevertheless, that doesn’t give them the right to make up words, which they’ve done with remarkable regularly in the first half. Most notable was Stone’s constant classification of the game’s pace as “frentic,” which I can only assume is some heinous and indecisive combination of “frenetic” and “frantic.” Williams has gotten involved as well, saying Jermaine Beal’s most important contribution to the team is his “veteranship.” I would argue that it’s his 15.4 points per game, 48.1% shooting, and 2.33 assist-to-turnover ratio that make him good, but reasonable minds can differ.

This brings us to the following image, which is undoubtedly the first of many to be issued this season:

Go ‘Dores!

EDIT: Upon further review, my newest crusade might be the Commodores’ penchant for turning over the ball. Going into tonight’s game, the team’s assist-to-turnover ratio was 1:1.4, which is just terrible. Then, of course, they turned the ball over 23 times tonight against Missouri. I know Missouri plays fast – or “frentic” – basketball, which means more possessions, which means more opportunities for turnovers. But that also means there are more opportunities for assists, and the Commodores only had 13 of them tonight. It’s early, but this is not good.


Final Thoughts On Jimmy Dykes & The SEC… Until March

February 6, 2009

If you’re sick of me talking about Jimmy Dykes and his feelings about the Southeastern Conference, I understand. Feel free to go do something else – explore my blogroll, make yourself a sandwich, or whatever makes you happy. I have a hard time apologizing for revisiting this subject, however, because I think it exemplifies some important shortcomings in the sports media’s treatment of its subjects. Specifically, Dykes’ comments about the SEC highlight a lack of accountability and analysis from which sports journalism far too often considers itself exempt.

As fate would have it (and by “fate,” I mean “ESPN’s regional broadcasting assignments”), Dykes and his partner Brad Nessler did the Alabama-Vanderbilt game last night. I greeted Dykes’ amiable visage not with loathing, but with bemusement, as I wondered to myself if the night held yet another impassioned endorsement of the SEC. I expected that Dykes would not oblige, because surely he would not risk becoming a caricature of himself; surely, he would not want to become known as “the paranoid guy who can be counted upon to defend the SEC during every one of his broadcasts.” I was wrong. Read the rest of this entry »


ESPN Sideline Reporter: “All Black People Are African-American”

January 20, 2009

Tonight’s Tennessee-Vanderbilt game had few pleasant moments for Commodore fans. AJ Ogilvy was held to seven points on 1-6 shooting. Two promising freshmen fouled out. The team played no defense. It was an ugly game. There is, however, a demographic for which the game was even less pleasant: fans of accurate geographical and ethnic terminology.

As was probably inevitable, broadcasters Jimmy Dykes and Brad Nessler turned their attention to President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Ruminations on the historic nature of the day ensued, followed by the team throwing it to sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards. Edwards then filed what is simultaneously the greatest and most discouraging sideline report of my young life: 

“I talked to Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli – who is from Nigeria – before the game about Obama’s inauguration. He told me that it isn’t as big of a deal to him as it is to most people, because all they have in Nigeria are African-American presidents.”

There was a pause. Then, my friend, couchmate, and fellow Vanderbilt graduate incredulously says “African-American presidents?” 

I am insatiably curious about who is at fault here. Did Ezeli actually say “African-American”? Or did he say “black presidents” and Edwards replaced it with the seemingly safer but completely inappropriate “African-American”? Forgive me for my skepticism, but I would bet that Edwards dropped the ball on this one. I have a hard time believing that the African-born Ezeli would call his country’s presidents “African-American.” 

Finally, because we leave no stone unturned here at Fan Interference, I can most assuredly tell you that all of Nigeria’s national leaders have been Nigerian.

EDIT: If you dare, you can venture into the ESPN conversation for this game to verify that I am not making this up. Look at the second comment made at 10:30. Then leave quickly before your brain cells start deteriorating.


Do Not Give Festus Ezeli The Ball

January 20, 2009

While I hope a great many of you find the information in this post as hilarious as I did, I recognize the amount of people who will actually do so is quite small. The group is probably limited to (a) Vanderbilt basketball fans or (b) nerds excited by assist-to-turnover ratios. I, unfortunately, fall into both of those categories.

So does one of my college friends, who fifteen minutes ago told me to go to this page, and look at center Festus Ezeli’s assist-to-turnover ratio. Dutifully and giggling uncontrollably, I obeyed. I came upon Ezeli’s name in the leftmost column, and scanned to the right until I came upon that fateful number.

1 : 25

I guffawed for about a minute straight. I let the total ineptitude and failure that that ratio represents wash over me, and then I laughed some more. That ratio is terrible. My friend said jokingly “he probably has only had one assist all season.” He was right. Ezeli had one assist against the University of South Florida, and that is it. 

So, next time you think one of your team’s players turns the ball over too much, remember that it could always be worse, because Festus Ezeli could be on your team. 

Time for me to watch Tennessee-Vanderbilt, while keeping a special eye on playmaker extraordinaire, Festus Ezeli. Go ‘Dores.


Alex Gordon Is Not Better Than Jonathan Wallace…

January 19, 2008

…but he isn’t much worse either. I say this because of this brief feature ESPN just broadcast on the top college point guards in the country. The anchor narrated highlight reels of Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, Jonathan Wallace, D.J. Augustin, and Derrick Rose. Each of those seemed acceptable as a top point guard. But then they showed each player’s points and assists per game. To my surprise, Wallace is averaging 10.3 PPG, 2.3 APG, and 2.0 RPG. My first thought was “those are not elite numbers.” My second thought was “actually, those look a lot like Alex Gordon’s numbers.”

Staying with the recent Vanderbilt-centric bent of this blog, Alex Gordon is our starting shooting guard. Compare his numbers to Wallace’s:

  • Gordon: 10.2 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.8 RPG, 2.5 TO, 1.3 SPG, 41.9% FG, 41.6% 3P
  • Wallace: 10.3 PPG, 2.3 APG, 2.0 RPG, 1.5 TO, 0.9 SPG, 50.5% FG, 44.9% 3P

Now, I think Wallace is better than Gordon. He’s clearly a more efficient player. I don’t know a ton about basketball, but Gordon’s points, rebounds and assists all probably benefit from slightly more minutes than Wallace in a faster-paced offense. So unless I’m really missing something (which happens a lot), Wallace is better.

I’m not sure, however, that Wallace is clearly one of the top five point guards in the country. Sometimes sports media outlets give the edge to seniors in things like this, but Wallace is the only senior in that group, so it’s not that. And also, where the heck are Jerryd Bayless (18.8/4.4/3.2), Scottie Reynolds (14.8/4.0/2.8), and Tyrese Rice (19.5/5.3/3.8)?

I’m trying to take my understanding of basketball to the next level, so if anyone thinks Wallace deserves to be included on this list, I would love to hear a thoughtful explanation. Until then, I shall remain slightly incredulous and very curious.


Shan Foster Might As Well Start Packing For Europe…

January 11, 2008

…because according to ESPN’s draft rankings for amateur shooting guards, Mr. Foster has no shot at being drafted.

In the interest of full disclosure, I go to Vanderbilt and am therefore more than slightly biased towards this guy. But come on. He’s averaging 20.6 PPG, 1.7 APG, and 5.1 RPG in the SEC. He’s also shooting 53% from the field, and an obscene 51% from long-distance, so he’s definitely got the numbers. Foster is also 6’6, energetic, and athletic. In other words, he’s not someone like Joe Forte or JJ Redick, who clearly had questions about how their abilities (height, ball-handling, athleticism, etc.) would translate to the next level.

Again, perhaps this is homerism, but you’d have a hard time convincing me that Jon Scheyer, Vasily Zavoruev, Austin Freeman, Nolan Smith, and Milenko Tepic all have a better chance at getting drafted than Shan Foster.