Eli Horowitz | Medium Talk Co-Creator
The nation’s most disappointing team, now known as the Vanderbilt Commodores, blew a 17-point lead last night at Mississippi State to fall to 15-11 overall and 7-6 in the SEC. To add insult to injury, the game was lost at the buzzer. With Vanderbilt leading 74-72 with 20 seconds left, they failed to corral a rebound which led to a second-chance opportunity for MSU and a wide-open corner three. Quinndary Weatherspoon calmly knocked down the game-winning three, effectively ending Vandy’s hopes for March Madness.
Going into the game, Vandy had to finish at least 4-2 to be considered for the Big Dance. But with upcoming games against Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, and Texas A&M, the 'Dores could ill afford to have one of those two losses come against Mississippi State or Tennessee. The loss marks their second “bad loss” by resume standards (Arkansas and Mississippi State), and leaves them with the task of either winning out or going 4-1 against superior competition. Given the trajectory of this season, a rallying finish is all but a pipe dream.
While last night’s loss was utterly infuriating, it came as no surprise. In this season alone, Vanderbilt blew a 13-point second-half lead at Baylor, a 10-point lead on a neutral site against Kansas, a 16-point lead at home against Dayton, and numerous halftime leads against the likes of South Carolina, LSU, and Purdue. This team has squandered countless opportunities to build a tournament resume, and they have played their worst basketball during crunch time. The team looked laughably incompetent during the last eight minutes of last night's game, turning the ball over regularly, failing to run succinct plays, and allowing easy baskets to an SEC bottom-feeder.
While college basketball analysts have already dubbed Vanderbilt the Nation’s Most Disappointing Team, that title hardly does the disappointment justice. Since 2000, only four teams with two first-round draft picks have failed to make the NCAA tournament. This year, Vanderbilt has two likely first-round picks in Damian Jones and Wade Baldwin IV. If they fail to make a late-season surge to qualify for the tournament, Vanderbilt will effectively be one of the five most disappointing college basketball teams in over 15 years.
Moreover, Vandy’s Luke Kornet is now on 2017 NBA draft boards, making him a third potential draft prospect. The four teams that missed the tournament prior were plagued by season-ending injuries--a justifiable demise. With that in mind, it's not a stretch to call the 2015-2016 Vanderbilt Commodores the biggest disappointment of the 21st Century.
If that’s not a case against Head Coach Kevin Stallings, I don’t know what is. Season-ticket-holders need to tell the University they are not renewing until changes are made. The fans, students, and players deserve better.
One thing's for sure: Stallings' 17th season in Nashville should be his last.