Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beating Maryland will be no small task

They don’t make as much news as their male counterparts. Most people probably couldn’t name their starting lineup. But tonight, the Lady Commodores are the center of attention as they take on first-seeded Maryland in the regional semifinals in Spokane. Not only is it against a heavily favored offensive juggernaut, but a win would put Vanderbilt in the Elite Eight for the first time in six years.

Vanderbilt is also battling history; since 2002, No. 1 seeds are 21-2 in the round of 16. The only two teams to pull off the upsets in the regional semifinals in that time were Rutgers over Duke in 2007 and LSU over Texas in 2004, and both reached the Final Four.

To pull the upset, I think Vanderbilt’s got to focus heavily on two things: negating Maryland’s height advantage on the boards and taking away their inside game. The Commodores are obviously an outstanding defensive team; look to their smothering of the Mountaineers last weekend for proof of that. However, rebounding is a weak point, and Maryland can expose that with their excellent frontcourt in All-American Crystal Langhorne and Lauren Harper, who stand at 6-2 and 6-4 respectively. The Commodores were the worst in the SEC in rebounding, and no one in Vanderbilt’s starting line-up is taller than 6-1. It doesn’t take a genius to note that senior Liz Sherwood will need to be a force on the boards coming off the bench.

Also, forcing Maryland into shooting from the outside is a must. A theme in Maryland’s rare losses was that they jacked up far more 3-pointers than usual and shot poorly when they did. The Terrapins hit just 14 out of 68 attempts in losses to UNC, Rutgers and Duke this year, about 23 attempts per game, when they usually take just 16, and only against Duke was Maryland furiously firing up shots in an attempt to comeback. Taking away their inside game won’t be easy, but Vanderbilt has to do it if it wants to advance.

Tip-off is at 8:00 CT, and ESPN will broadcast. Go Dores!

1 comment:

Kate said...

Students come watch the game in the Rec Center! Vandy Fanatics is sponsoring a viewing party with free giveaways (including Hawkins Heroes sweatshirts!) and Maggianos!!