The Vanderbilt Hustler | Commemorative minutes: breaking records and rising high in the SEC game

“Don’t take a bad shot, but you’ve got one more.”

That’s what the Vanderbilt coaching staff told rookie Iyana Moore during the Commodores’ final timeout against Alabama State on Tuesday. Moore needed a 3-point – which would be his ninth in the game – to break Vanderbilt’s 3-point record previously tied by the current chief of staff Christina foggie in 2012 after initially being set in 2005.

With 3:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, Moore stood up for a final 3 and smashed not only the one-game individual record, but also Commodore’s team record for the 3s made in a game with 17. .

“You have goals as a freshman, but you never really imagine yourself doing it until it happens,” Moore said of breaking the record since 2005. “You’re a little bit impressed. really just did something, set a record that’s probably been around for a long time, so that’s kinda cool.

The Commodores shot a season-high 3-point 31 in their 94-42 beating of the Hornets, notching their most points of the year and scoring their biggest winning margin of the season in the process. While the records broken were nothing short of staggering, what might be most impressive for Commodore fans about Vanderbilt’s non-conference final is that they have proven their ability to win in different ways.

Throughout the non-conference list, the Commodores have leaned on their defense. They maintained a ranked Arizona team at 48 points in a close loss and beat Rutgers and Saint Joseph’s keeping only 40 points each. But Tuesday, it was all about the offensive.

The victory over Alabama State capped a strong four-game streak for the Commodores, in which they beat their opponents by an average of 27 points per game. For context, Vanderbilt has won just five games in the past two years with over 25 points.

As they prepare to travel to College Station, TX to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in their first SEC game of the year, they should get a good taste of the momentum and a bit of good. shooting mojo to start.

Murfreesboro Bucket-Gitters

Moore and Brinae Alexander, a pair of Murfreesboro, Tennessee products, were the keys to Vanderbilt’s dominant four-game winning streak; offensive catalysts in every sense of the word.

Going into this season, it was obvious that Alexander and his senior colleague Jordyn Cambridge were going to have the keys to Ralph’s first offense. The two have produced in different ways, but Alexander’s rise in score lately has been more than noticeable.

The forward has scored in double digits in each of her last six games, a streak in which the Commodores have gone 5-1. While she had some success at the start of the year, what really opened up her game was a steady dose of 3-point shots. In that six-game stretch, she went from 18 to 45 (40%) behind the arc en route for 19 points per game.

Prior to this streak of games she had only taken 18 shots from beyond the arc, but now she has totaled five straight games with multiple 3s made. What this did was not only open up the offense for her to play the dribble, but it created more space for slashers like Cambridge and De’Mauri Flournoy to step into the paint and kick off. of foot to the shooters.

And speaking of kicking shooters, Moore seems like a hell of a good one.

I sang the first year praise just a few weeks ago, after some really solid performances at Paradise Jam, but she took her game to a whole new level in her record breaking performance on Tuesday night.

She scored 32 points in her first career start – her ninth double-digit effort of the season – but most notably, she knocked down nine of her 11 attempts from 3. Her 32-point outing is tied for fourth over. large number of points in a game by a freshman in Commodore history and with that, she now has over 11 points per game, second on the team behind Alexander.

“I told her she was going to stay until she was successful,” said head coach Shea Ralph with a laugh after the game. “It’s always exciting to have a game like this where you can set records and improve. It’s fun for the players, it’s definitely fun for Iyana. It’s exciting to see them being so passionate and so happy when she actually broke the record – we talked about it in one of the caucuses and then she didn’t shoot like the next three times she was open. I was like, ‘I shouldn’t have told him.’

Moore has a terrific mix of 3-point touchdowns with veteran-level patience that has allowed him both to chase punches but also to cut. She has the best 3-point shooting percentage among the Commodores with 10 or more attempts, but has also shown an ability to get into the dribble paint and score on the rim in transition.

“[We needed] to get a win over the break by entering the SEC, ”Moore said. “You have to have this good positive momentum. And I think tonight we’ve shown that we can play defense after a break, still be mentally focused, prepared. And I think it’s a good thing that we have as a team.

Commodore fans should be more than excited about the 5’8 “guard. She is Ralph’s cornerstone for the future and will be a stallion in the West End for years to come.

Team ball

While the individual scoring efforts have been impressive, the Commodores have continued to demonstrate their ability to play basketball as a team. There are aspects of Ralph’s system that should refresh basketball purists in an age of hoops that often lacks ball movement and team defense.

Vanderbilt continued to improve offensively with sharper offensive sets and shared basketball. After totaling 19 and 15 assists respectively in their last two games, they had 24 assists on Tuesday night against Alabama State. Using nice jump passes, ball reversals and extra passes, Vanderbilt was able to consistently find the open shooter, which in part led to the record-breaking night.

Take possession below for example.

Outside of the inbound pass, there’s pretty much anything you want in a possession – over five passes, multiple iterations of penetration, a good missed shot for better shot, and an easy layup deep into the clock. shootings.

Cambridge and Moore both tackle the paint, there are several turns of the ball and Sacha Washington finishes an easy layup with an extra pass under Moore’s basket. I’m not sure Vanderbilt had many possessions like this all last season.

Defensively, Vanderbilt continues to play as a unit. Ralph’s commodores have now forced 20 or more turnovers in new consecutive games. Cambridge became one of the best defensemen in all of college basketball with eight games over four steals and Ralph eased his team’s biggest weakness, height, by bringing every player to buy in a system that relies on the team’s rebound and a stingy area.

“We talk every day about using this day to improve ourselves, whether we’re playing games or training,” Ralph said after Tuesday’s win. “The fun thing about basketball is playing a team game where you improve everyone on your team. You highlight their strengths, you hide the weaknesses of the other. It’s fun, and it’s also a great way to be a good team. So, coming into the SEC game, I’m delighted that today I think we made it.

Combine a click attack using long, sharp ball motion with a defense that is top 40 in the country in forced per-game turnovers, and Vanderbilt could scare off a number of conference enemies in January.

Set expectations, stay healthy

“Our goal will always be us first. But obviously preparation is essential and important too. And every team we play will be a little different, ”said Ralph of his team’s preparation for the SEC competition. “We will always be ourselves, we will focus on what we are doing and try to do it really well every day.”

Seems familiar? Well, that’s pretty much exactly what football coach Clark Lea preached all fall in his own inaugural season.

Vanderbilt is set to embark on a grueling SEC roster that currently includes eight games against ranked opponents. Six SEC teams are in the Top 25 PA, but Vanderbilt only plays one of those teams in his first four conference clashes.

A clash with number 23 from Texas A&M will be the first taste of Ralph’s conference game. The Aggies will be more of a challenge for their squad as they beat Depaul, a team Vanderbilt lost to at the Paradise Jam after having a big, double-digit lead. So how will Ralph and the company measure success this SEC season?

“I don’t want our team’s confidence to come from our performance,” said Ralph. “I want this to come from what I just told you guys, I think it’s important: making everyone better on and off the basketball court, who you are every day, no matter what. is happening on the dashboard. “

Again, it looks a lot like Lea. Both programs were at their lowest when the two first-year head coaches took over. Victories cannot necessarily be the barometer. Improvement and competition in difficult games can be.

With the basketball brand of Vanderbilt, they should give yourself a chance most nights. Using a swarm defense, the Commodores should be a team that most SEC opponents have no interest in playing.

One of the biggest keys to achieving this, however, will be navigating the delicate COVID-19 landscape that is currently distress major sports in the United States. As of Tuesday, Vanderbilt was without Flournoy and Bella LaChance in sophomore due to health and safety protocols – Ralph only had nine players available against the Hornets despite his entire squad being fully vaccinated.

“I’m just going hour by hour. I told our team after the game that we are in control of what we can control and right now we are doing everything we can, ”Ralph said of his team’s COVID-19 outlook. “Our whole team is vaccinated and most of them are boosted, all of our staff are vaccinated and boosted, we are doing everything we can to try to stay safe.”

After Texas A&M No. 23 on Thursday, Vanderbilt has three unranked conference opponents in his first four SEC games. Chances are this team will get ahead of the big dogs in the SEC and staying healthy they just might.

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