is easily the weirdest week of the year. The holidays, traveling, and a
room-clearing burp in the college basketball schedule conspire to throw
off routine. And once we clear the New Year, there's two more games before diving into this whole new conference thing.
For now, we have to deal with the logistical trouble that brings Fairleigh Dickinson to The Stu for a Saturday at 4pm date. The
Knights hit town at 4-6, and have two opponents on their schedule that
matter to VCU. FDU lost to Lehigh 102-62 and lost to Xavier 117-75.
Pomeroy ranks 347 teams in his tempo free numbers, and FDU is 344th in
terms of effective field goal percentage defense. In short, "effective
field goal percentage" differs from conventional field goal percentage
by taking into account the extra value of a made three-pointer. VCU
makes a few of these so it's especially relevant.
It isn't all fun
and games. FDU shoots 42.3% from three, which is second in the nation.
(Note to file away: Lehigh is first and VCU plays them January 5.) FDU
is also playing Longwood on New Year's Eve, completing the rarely seen
VCU/FDU/LU round-robin scheduling trifecta.
for your own personal New Year's Eve Party Trivia Game: FDU is the
first American university to own and operate an international campus,
and that's not due to its New Jersey location. The first true
international campus was in Wroxton, England. Also, it was founded in
1942 and was not named after the famous American poet Emily Dickinson.
Rather, it was named for an early benefactor, Colonel Fairleigh S.
How they became known as the Knights, and not Colonels, I'll never know. But I digress…
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Things I'm Watching
Juvonte Reddic (Again). FDU has one player taller than 6-6, and that's
6-7 reserve Mathias Seilund. I want to see Reddic post his man deep on
the blocks and convert short left- and
right-handed jump hooks. I want to see Reddic use his lower body like
he was doing early in the season. And I want to see Reddic play
energized, much like the early second half sequence against Longwood when he scored, ran the floor, blocked a shot, and then ran
down the floor and scored again.
2. The Squeaking of Everything Other
Than Shoes. We talked about showing up with fire the past couple
games–overmatched opponents and the hangover of a well-played Alabama
game. That was a correct thought, but it has absolutely no standing when
compared to this week. The kids got away from basketball for a couple
days and went home to hang out with their families. There's playing with
a fire, and then there's the rust that builds up when you don't have
Will Wade chewing your backside for missing a box out assignment. I want
to see the time away go away by the under 16 media timeout. Of the
3. The Portion of Seemingly Every Game That Makes Me
Curse (Off the Air, Of Course.) Longwood hit its first four shots and
outscored VCU 9-7 to open the second half. These slow starts are
absolutely killing me. So I obviously want to see a havoc blitzkrieg to
start the second half of this game. I want the folks who are usually
slow to return to their seats to spill something on their sweater
rushing back to see what's going on. Maybe Shaka should forget even
going to the locker room and just huddle up on the sideline for the
entire half. Maybe schedule a guest speaker? I don't know, but I want to
see ugly get uglier.
4. Melle Mel Channeling Ralph Macchio. Melvin
Johnson has not put together very good back-to-back games this year.
Check out his box score if you don't believe me.
It's time Johnson went all wax on, wax on. And for goodness sakes,
Johnson is 3-9 from the line at The Stu? That defies belief. Johnson was
pretty good against Longwood, so I want to see him improve on that
performance. Hitting half his shots and marking up the box score in
other areas is nice, as is a solid off-the-ball defensive effort. That
leaves one question: who is his Mr. Miyagi?
5. Free Food. I admit I
have some holiday cheer coarsing through me today, so we'll end on a fun
note. VCU sponsors are providing various food prizes for 80 points, 20
steals, and the like. All I know is that when Rams fans eat for free,
that means the basketball team has done well. Heck, I'll even take a
free Papa John's pizza because some kid nails a halfcourt shot. Free
food for everybody is a winning strategy. I have an idea. Free Starbucks
for everyone if VCU opens the second half on a 12-2 run! Think it will
We Don't Work For Free
Melquan Bolding (14.5ppg, 4.1rpg) is a big-bodied scorer who loves to attack the rim–he has 52 free throw attempts this year–but who can also hit a three when a defense sits back to cut the drive (10-37 from three on the year). The Rams are going to have to limit those wing touches that lead to the drives.
Kinu Rochford (13.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) is a big lefty, but not like Phil Mickelson. Rochford uses his body well and is a great offensive rebounder. Lonnie Robinson (13.4ppg, 3.8rpg) has been improving as the year progresses and will play the undersized four role. Robinson is 14-25
(56%) from three.
I fear for Sekou
Harris (10.3 ppg, 5.8 apg) not because he does not possess talent; rather, it's because Harris happens to be a freshman point guard. Harris is small and quick but can get ahead of himself and turn the ball over. It's possible that came up in the VCU scouting discussion.
Mustafaa Jones is averaging 8.2ppg and is a three point specialist in the truest sense of the word. Jones has made one two-point FG on the year and is 26-54 (48%) from three. A name you may remember is Yves Jules, who was last seen wearing a Hofstra uniform. Jules averages 8.0 ppg off the bench.
Mathias Seilund (6.4ppg, 3.4rpg) is a pick-and-pop four who is their tallest player at 6-7, and Sidney Sanders the backup point guard. Xavier Harris is the backup post and will log minutes.
It's about re-establishing the identity of this team on several fronts. Paint dominance for one.
A renewed relentlessness on the glass matters. VCU outrebounded six of its first eight opponents but just one of its last four. The last four games have been much easier, too. It's time to get after the offensive and defensive glass.
And finally, its the whole shaking off being away and just plain re-establishing who we are. The benchmark: how much free food is won.