I'd like to officially welcome you
to the Atlantic 10. Well, my welcoming you to the conference is a little like welcoming
you to the Siegel Center–rather self-centered and pointless, but
whatever. Deal with it. I'm excited. I'm
also not afraid to admit I was one of the last on board for the whole
conference move, just as I'm not afraid to admit I can be an idiot.
VCU enters its
conference season unlike any other season in program history. The Rams
are nationally ranked and nationally relevant. This basketball team, by
any measure, has established itself as a program to be reckoned with.
prepositions cannot slow down the measures: 32nd in RPI, 10th in KenPom,
12th in Sagarin. We've seen early season projections for the NCAA
tournament that include VCU everywhere from a five seed to a nine seed.
We don't have to hold our breath for bracketbusters or three days in
March. Not anymore. With all due respect to the old time Rams fans,
players, and JD Barnett, there has never been a better time in VCU
best part of this is that we've accomplished very little of
significance. There's so much more to come, and there's reward in earning those goals. However in order to get somewhere, you have to start
somewhere. This team has put itself in position for those rewards but as
of yet have not earned them. You can bet the coaching staff has made
And this: Dayton doesn't give a flying doodly doo-doo. The Flyers are looking to beat VCU back onto the bubble. Giddyup.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Things I'm Watching
The Fluster Factor. Kevin Dillard is a first team all A10 pick. He is a
senior and Dayton's BMOC. However the Flyers have a bunch of baby-faced
freshmen playing behind Dillard. Havoc getting into the noggin of
Dillard is a little like Eric Stratton getting turned down. If the
leader is rebuffed, what is the rest of the gang going to do?
Disappearing Buttocks. Get your mind out of the gutter. Dayton's Devin
Oliver leads the A10 in rebounding. His front court mate Josh Benson is a
tough and athletic 6-9 post. Those two, plus a very strong guard in Vee
Sanford, can rebound. VCU players must crash the offensive glass, but
importantly get their behinds on these guys on the defensive glass.
Space: The Final Frontier. Even when missing shots, VCU has executed
fairly well on offense. That becomes vital as the level of opponent
increases. The Rams will have to run their screen offense
crisply–reading screens and cutting to correct spots on the floor. The
ballhandler in those screen situations has to make the right play–he
cannot run up the back of the screener or cutter. In transition offense,
it's getting to the right spot and being shot-ready. Now is not the
time for clunky, cloggy offense.
Shorts-Tugging. Again, get your mind out of the gutter. Dayton goes
eight, maybe nine, deep. Four players average 27 or more minutes. The
Flyers like to run, but there's running and then there how VCU runs.
Keep a keen eye on halfcourt situations. Anybody can run up and down the
court in transition, but watch for Dayton big men tugging on their
shorts due to fatigue as they establish halfcourt offense. Look for how
quickly guys line up during out of bounds situations. Those are key to
determining what happens next.
Juvonte, and Clangs. Reddic has posted two clunkers in the past two
games and will be challenged by Benson and/or Oliver. Plus, Dayton is
likely to play some zone which further exacerbates getting Juvonte the
ball on the block. But if VCU can establish Reddic early, the Flyers
have to think twice about leaving him one-on-one. That may leave an
additional VCU player open on the three-point line, which is where the
clangs come into play. The Rams will have to knock down better than five of
We Don't Work For Free
We're trying something new here–all short and bullety. Let me know what you think.
Kevin Dillard (15.3ppg, 4.6apg). The Man for Dayton. Senior
point guard. Changes speed well. Will shoot comfortable threes (21-55). In the last two games Dillard is shooting 22-of-24 at the free throw
line (.917), but 2-of-19 from the floor (.105). He also has 14 assists
and five steals in the two games. Dillard is 22-of-22 in the last two minutes of the game this season at the charity stripe.
Vee Sanford (12.9 ppg, 3.0rpg). Georgetown transfer. Big,
physical, and aggressive. Wants to drive, get to the rim. Hit 5-7 threes last game
(UAB). Sanford has been on fire of late averaging 17.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in his last three games.
Josh Benson (11.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Tough, athletic 6-9 big man
who rebounds on offensive end well. Shooting 55% from floor.
Devin Oliver (10.1ppg, 8.6rpg). Leads A10 in rebounding. 6-7
lefty who works very hard. Oliver recorded his fourth career double-double with 11 points and 12
rebounds at USC. The four double-doubles came in his last 10 contests.
Dyshawn Pierre (6.7ppg, 4.0rpg). Big freshman guard (6-6)
who is a good three point shooter (12-27).
Jalen Robinson (6.0ppg, 5.2rpg). Athletic, high energy 6-9
post man. Freshman. Relentless rebounder.
Khari Price (2.4ppg, 1.8apg). Small, backup point guard. Great
energy, and solid on-ball defender. All 8 of his field goals are threes.
Matt Derenbecker (4.8ppg). Lefty, a shooter. 19 FGM, and 18
Alex Gavrilovic. Big (6-9, 250) physical post. Has range to
likes to play fast and shredded Alabama and Anthony Grant's havoc-lite
style to the tune of 81 points. You can bet Shaka Smart spent a great
deal of time with that Alabama tape finding out how they did it, and how
he can counter that success.
That's a tremendous key to this game–how the experienced guards handle the press, and what happens on the back end. For the most part, VCU has done very well recovering when the press is broken.
The biggest difference between Dayton’s wins and losses this season have
come from field goal shooting. In the victories, UD is shooting 49.2% overall and 40.2% from three. In teh four losses, the Flyers shoot 38.0% from the field and 22.0% from three.
Worth noting, too: the Flyers have been outrebounded in their last four games, going 2-2
in that span. UD is 8-1 this season when outrebounding its opponent.
This is a very fun day.