When there’s a lull in the game and you need a spark, who you gonna call?
For the Vanderbilt Commodores, it’s Saben Lee.
The electrifying freshman has been making some sensational plays throughout the year, including his posterizing dunk on Tuesday night against Tennessee.
— Vandy Hustler Sports (@vuhustlersports) January 10, 2018
It’s those plays that give the Commodores a boost when things are getting sluggish.
“Yeah, I think it energizes all of us,” Riley LaChance said on Thursday. “It energizes the fans in the building. He’s done that a couple of times this season. He makes some spectacular plays for us that definitely get us going.”
With a showdown against Kentucky looming on Saturday, LaChance says the Commodores will need as many high-energy moments as possible.
“Yeah, I think from him or from anybody else,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a dunk or anything, it could be diving on the floor for a loose ball or defensive play. We just have to continue to play hard and play aggressive.”
It hasn’t just been Lee’s electrifying, high-flying plays that have been impressive. His overall skill set has improved. For example, he is making more three-pointers than he used to, which has been a huge boost.
Head coach Bryce Drew has been happy with how Lee has developed throughout the season.
“Saben’s been really good for the last couple of weeks,” Drew said. “He’s really elevated his game, he’s making good decisions and we need that from him. If he can have a real dynamic play like that, hopefully the crowd gets into it and helps our other players play with more energy.”
That dynamic play has given Lee a chance to be a regular in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, senior Matthew Fisher-Davis has found himself coming off the bench more often than not.
Despite not being in the starting lineup, Fisher-Davis is playing some impressive basketball. He’s third on the team in minutes played per game, second on the team in points per game, third in blocks and second in rebounds per game, even beating out center Djery Baptiste in rebounds per game.
When asked if Fisher-Davis was playing with an edge to get back into the starting lineup, Drew praised his senior but was hesitant to say if he would get a spot in the lineup.
“Hopefully he continues to shoot the ball well and continues to improve on his defense,” Fisher-Davis said. “He’s a big part of our team and we need him to play well.”
To Fisher-Davis’ credit, the reason he might not be in the starting lineup is because Drew intentionally doesn’t want to commit to a single starting lineup. He has rotated the lineups game in and game out depending on the team he is facing. Towards the end of non-conference play, the team rolled out a smaller lineup, but has since added more size to face tougher SEC opponents.
As for this weekend’s matchup against Kentucky, Drew still couldn’t commit to a lineup.
“It’s going to be game-to-game,” he said. “We’re going to see how practice is going the next couple of days, see how matchups go and go from there. Obviously, we’d love to get a flow and get a consistent lineup, but we’re just not there yet in our program.”
It’s safe to say Drew will need some size against the Wildcats, a team without a traditional big man but with plenty of size across the board. The Commodores will have to play a complete game in order to spring the upset on Kentucky.
“We have to rebound,” he said. “We have to take away easy points in the paint. We’ve had career nights for two bigs in our last two games. We’ve got to do a better job making them earn points a little bit harder.”
Vanderbilt take on Kentucky at 3 PM central on Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN.