Home Uncategorized VCU at Rhode Island…Or, Away, Sweet Away…

VCU at Rhode Island…Or, Away, Sweet Away…

We're rolling a little early for the Rhode Island preview. Can't hide my excitement for a roadie, and to get The Train rolling again.

After all, VCU is shooting 44.2% from the field and 29.9% from three at home this season. Away from the Siegel Center, you ask? VCU is making 46.5% overall and 40.3% from three. That's just weird. So let's get inside the friendly confines of Somewhere Else Arena and get after it.

Those Rams are 6-12 overall and 1-4 in the A10. Rhody is coming off
back-to-back losses to GW and Fordham, but beat St. Louis (at St. Louis)
prior to that.

Rhode Island has struggled on offense, topping 60 points just eight times in their 18 games, though they've scored more than 60 points in their past three games. They don't play particularly fast nor slow, and their shooting is a C- while defending at B+ levels.

Ken Pomeroy has VCU winning 70-59, giving the Good Guy Rams an 84% chance of winning by any score.

Three Facts

  1. Four of Rhody's starting five have made 22 or more threes this year, while teams are shooting 40.9% from three against VCU in conference games–dead last in the A10.
  2. Rhody's defensive rebounding percentage is 62.4%, 15th in the A10.
  3. Head coach Danny Hurley led Wagner to a win over Pitt last season.

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Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Things I'm Watching

1. Sprinting to Offensive Sets. My theory is the perfect storm of a shorter bench met tough opposition, and VCU was a tired team on Saturday. Fatigue is the enemy of havoc, and it unconsciously shows itself in certain facets of the game. One of those areas: how kids cut to spots once a play is called on offense. I want to see sprinting to spots so that passes arrive on time, and the VCU player is shot-ready. That leads to more made shots.

 2. A Double-Double of the Bench Variety. This is simple…a key component to havoc is having effective bodies to throw at your opponent. Once we get past our seven-deep rotation (starters plus Briante Weber and Melvin Johnson), I want to see two players get double-figures minutes. I want to see Jarred Guest log a productive 15 minutes, not "Rest Ju" minutes, and either DJ Haley or Justin Tuoyo go 12-15 minutes while the clock is running.

3. Troy and Train: Step Aside. It's always beneficial to get Daniels and Graham going from beyond the arc, but I want to see that third and/or fourth guy knock down a few triples. In six conference games, Darius Theus (1-10), Briante Weber (0-7), and Melvin Johnson (0-11) are not threats–a combined 1-28 from three. I want to see that level out.

4. Ju Being Ju. I've reached the end of the rope with people knocking Reddic for lack of emotion or whatever. I want Reddic to be Reddic–stoic, bored, and plopping a double-double on VCUs opposition. Criticism of Reddic is incredibly insipid. Sure, there are coachable moments and hoops minutia that Reddic still needs to figure out. There are 13 players on the roster with that shortcoming. And yes he can look like he's not into the game. But Reddic is averaging a double-double in conference games (15.8/10.2) and has 24 offensive rebounds in the last four games. Where would we be without him?

5. The Number 15. VCU is 16-0 when forcing 15 or more turnovers this season.
Record when forcing 14 or fewer: 0-5. Let's take that back two years.
When forcing 15 or more turnovers, VCU is 40-3. Forty and three! When forcing 14 or fewer
turnovers: 5-9. That is all.

We Don't Work For Free

Xavier Munford (17.4ppg, 3.0rpg) is the A10s leading scorer and he doesn't mind shooting. "High Volume" would be a great nickname for him. Munford is 40-127 (31.5%) from three, and he is also a long-armed defender who can engulf the basketball.

Mike Powell (10.2ppg, 3.3apg) is a quick lefty point guard who is a straightline driver, which means he draws a lot of fouls. Powell averages 37 minutes per game.

Nikola Malesevic (11.0ppg, 4.9rpg) is a 6-7 pick-and-pop four man, and Andre Malone (10.6ppg, 4.4rpg) is a big wing at 6-6 but will handle the ball for Rhody. Malone has played better as the season has worn on.

Jordan Hare (4.9ppg, 3.9rpg) is a skinny 6-10 post who is a very good shot blocker but not much of an offensive threat. Hare is backed by 6-8, 220-pound Ryan Brooks (2.0ppg, 4.5rpg), a senior who does the dirty work–setting screens and relentless on the offensive glass.

TJ Buchanan (2.5ppg) will see about 20 minutes off the bench. The combo guard has doubled his scoring output in the past five games. Similarly, Mike Aaman (3.6ppg) is playing better. The 6-8 lefty is slow but effective on the block.

Finally, a name you will remember. Alwayne Bigby (1.0ppg, 1.6rpg), formerly of Northeastern, plays a similar role: facilitator of others and not much of an offensive threat.

The Message

I feel like this is a team where the physical toll of havoc caught up to the meat of the schedule and created a perfect storm against LaSalle. Shaka Smart shortened the bench against tougher opposition, and thus the Rams hadn't yet adjusted and didn't have their legs, and it affected both offense and defense.

Under no circumstances was there a Richmond hangover. As Smart said, the guys gave everything they could give against LaSalle. This is a mentally tough VCU team that, literally, needs to find its legs.

Thanks to Andy Glockner and Rob Dauster (but not his math), I've come to the conclusion that havoc is a symbiotic system. Forcing turnovers keys the offense, but made shots keys the defense. Each relies on the other, probably more so than other "systems."

Here's how that played out on Saturday.

Glockner correctly pointed out that the Rams have struggled in the halfcourt, giving up 1.12 points per possession to St. Joseph's, 1.21ppp to Richmond, and 1.08ppp to LaSalle. Only three teams had crossed the 1.00ppp barrier in the first 17 games.

Defensively, VCU couldn't keep LaSalle out of the lane, and offensively
there was no spring in their collective step. Thus, the Rams scored only
0.95ppp against the Explorers, the second-lowest total (Lehigh, 0.92)
since we left the Bahamas.

It's all a matter of adjustments. Some are Xs and Os, while others are related to grinding out performance. A good meal, a solid roadie, a little rest, and the physical adjustment to a shortened bench and longer rotations is just what the doctor ordered.