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Of Stats and Men…

Havoc isn't on any banned substances list, but you can bet your bippy it's a
performance-enhancing drug for a struggling Old Dominion team. What
better way exists to right the ship than beating down your high-flying
archrival when everyone expected differently?

Be warned–the Monarchs
are a cantankerous bunch, and will arrive Friday night in an especially
foul mood. Their pregame meal: thumbtacks and vinegar.

Shaka
Smart knows it, and job one for him is making sure the team knows it:
"If my guys think the game is going to come easy," he said earlier this morning, "then they aren't in
the right frame of mind."

As
was emailed to me last night, this isn't your mom's ODU team. Blaine Taylor–perhaps you've heard of him–doesn't have the space-eating aircraft carrier in the
middle. Nick Wright and Deshawn Painter are certainly capable players,
but they aren't in the same mold as the behemoths of the past (Cooper,
Hassell, etc.).

This Monarchs team suffers from having talented but
young guards who don't yet feel comfortable making quick decisions, which leads to bad and very irrational decisions, and nobody around the rim who can clean
up ugly offense. Net result: a team still finding its way early in the year.

However
it doesn't suffer from laziness: the Monarchs had nine steals and grabbed 23 offensive
rebounds last night against Richmond and their offensive rebounding
percentage is 42.9%, ninth nationally.

I
watched every minute of Richmond's 80-53 thrashing of ODU last night, and the
most impressive facet that stood out to me was that Richmond was outstanding in how they
spaced the floor. The Spiders's passed and cut quickly, played as a team, and it broke down
the ODU defense badly.

There's your midweek offensive key for the
Rams–move the ball quickly and crisply. Defensively, VCU needs to cut
off the three-point line. Games like Friday are the cauldron of Donte
Hill making 6-9 from the arc. (Hill was 3-5 from behind the arc in the game in Norfolk last year.)

***

Statistics time…

The
oddest of the lot: VCU is shooting 22-85 (25.9%) from three at home and
38-91 (41.8%) from three in road/neutral games. Troy Daniels is just
8-28 (28.6%) from three in the Siegel Center.

Treveon Graham
(22/17) and Justin Tuoyo (11/8) both have more offensive rebounds than
defensive rebounds. Graham has 16 offensive rebounds and nine defensive
rebounds in wins, and six offensive rebounds and eight defensive rebounds in
losses.

VCU opponents are shooting 38% and have committed 91
turnovers in the first half of games. They are shooting 48% and have
committed only 58 turnovers in the second half of games. Smart chalks the disparity up to "mental fatigue."

Briante Weber and Darius Theus, assists-to-turnovers in wins is 38/16, and 15/13 in losses.

Weber leads the team in steals (24). Who is second? Juvonte Reddic, with 13 steals.

Speaking
of Weber, he is playing at his best in the second halves of games.
Weber averages 1.9 points and has six steals in the first halves, and
5.1 points with 18 steals in the second halves.

It gets far deeper
than that for Weber. In first halves, Weber is 6-20 from the field (30%); 1-5 from
three (20%); has nine assists and six turnovers. In second halves,
Weber is 14-22 from the field (64%); 6-10 from three (60%); has 12
assists and four turnovers.

Final note on this point: when you consider how much worse, collectvely, VCU has played in second halves this year, how important is Weber's success? Answer: infty

Weber
made nine three pointers all last year (9-36), but already has seven
this year on just 15 attempts. He was 46-64 (75%) from the line last
year, and is 9-12 (75%) this
year.