VCU 81, Fordham 65…Or, Mama Always Told Me Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates…

It was a late Saturday night, one of those evenings where all manner of life pings in and out of your head. Thoughts come and go, some lingering longer than others, and they are rarely tied together. Cleaning the gutters fits alongside Darius Theus's assist-to-turnover ratio, which fits beside whether or not I can brush my dog's teeth which addles alongside doing taxes and Melvin Johnson's shooting.

It's ideal time to simply think. One goal was to shutter the noise and knock out the Fordham review, but I could not even type word one. The Gonzaga/San Diego game on TV was a distraction, as was wondering if I had retrieved the mail and the inner debate of heading outside to possibly retrieve something important at 1:30am. (The mail lost.)

I figured the writer's block was fatigue–as a budding geezer "late" for me is generally anything after the sun goes down. So I called it a night and here we are.

And I'm no closer.

Here's what I believe we saw: the kind of bulldozing very good basketball teams put on visitors. The Rams led 38-33 at the half and emerged from the locker room with guns blazing. VCU scored the first seven points of the second half, holding Fordham scoreless for 3:06.

After Fordham scored a couple buckets, havoc ensued over the next five minutes,
forcing six turnovers that produced a 15-3 VCU run and a
60-40 advantage. Troy Daniels popped three three-pointers in 59 seconds during the spree on his way to a slump-busting 7-14 night from beyond the arc. His 29 points led the way.

I couldn't get Shaka Smart to say the words last night, but I feel like we saw a blueprint for havoc. Poor first half shooting and garbage time may mar memories, but consider:

  • VCU forced 22 turnovers and committed eight. However two of those turnovers were late when the game was decided. The turnover differential of plus 14 is a very good number. Parenthetical: VCU has forced 15 or more turnovers 18 times this year. Record: 18-0.
  • The Rams grabbed 17 offensive rebounds.
  • Branden Frazier, Fordham's best player and averaging 18.4ppg in A-10 play, had six points on 2-12 shooting and committed six turnovers. A tenet of havoc: hold the opposing team's best player under his averages.
  • A passel of threes. The percentages were not high (37% from three and 34% overall), but the volume of makes, especially threes, was there. VCU hit 13-35 threes (and 11-35 twos…go figure).
  • The offense was crisp, and executed well. Of the eight turnovers, I can only remember one that resulted from a poor decision. I'm fine with overshot passes in transition and even a charging foul or two. Those are going to come with playing fast and being aggressive. Carelessness was, for the most part, avoided.

Here's probably the best summary I can offer: when we can walk away from a victory and feel like "we looked good but need to knock down a better percentage of our shots," and "there are things that may not be obvious to me but I bet the coaches will find in tape, those little things," then it was a good night.

More bullet points for you:

  • Juvonte Reddic posted his fourth straight double-double and fifth in six games. Reddic hit the 500 rebound mark for his career.
  • With seven threes, Troy Daniels passed Joey Rodriguez for third on the VCU alltime list.
  • Treveon Graham was the only VCU player to log more than 25 minutes.
  • The Rams hit 20-24 (83.3%) of their free throws.
  • Daniels's seven threes equalled his total for the past four games combined. Buzz grabbed seven rebounds as well.
  • Daniels was 3-5 on two-point shots. He had never made more than two two-pointers in a game in his career, and only attempted more than three two-pointers once (Indiana last year).
  • Treveon Graham scored 15 points. Graham has now scored in double-figures in 21 of
    VCUs 23 games this year. He has 622 points in 59 career games. Eric Maynor had
    620 points total in his first two years with the Rams.

Statistics That Jump Out At Me

5/1/4. Darius Theus had five assists, one turnover, and four steals. Theus in conference games: 45 assists, 10 turnovers, and 20 steals. Gimme.

18/8. That's assist-to-turnovers, which breaks a three-game streak of having more turnovers than assists.

One. Melvin Johnson swished his first three-point attempt, his only field goal of the game. That broke an 0-14 skein since his last make, way back on January 2 against ETSU. A toast to confidence.

Zero. Free throw attempts for Treveon Graham. That's unlike the Train, who had made 28 trips for freebies in the past three games. Not cause for alarm, but strange indeed.

The Curmudgeon's View

I can only laugh at this point. What do you make of a team that dominates from the arc, then stinks behind the arc but slashes teams to death, then buries 13 threes? I'm bald for hereditary reasons, but games like this one don't help the cause.

And free throws? For goodness sake. We're going to hit 70% for the season by alternating 60% games with 80% games. Yeah, that's not calming the blood pressure.

Here's what I'm hanging my hat on this morning. We have no idea what we're going to get from this VCU offense, but then again neither does our opponent.

What are you going to scout, Alan Major? <insert evil Dracula laugh>

Stars of the Game

***Troy Daniels. His early-second half splurge was rather like that guy that throws daggers at balloons on a spinning wheel. Each successive one raised your eyebrows and got you closer to the edge of your seat. My favorite: Fordham changed defenses and went to a 3-2 zone. Daniels immediately shot a 27-foot swish, farther than any human thinks he has to guard.

**Darius Theus. See the stats above. All Theus does is whatever the teams needs. The crisp offense last night is a direct result of his getting the ball where it needed to go, when it needed to be there.

*Briante Weber. This may be a bit of a surprise, but this was a nice bounce back game for Weber, who has struggled as of late. The numbers are not crooked, but Weber played a game of controlled harrassment. He had three steals and two blocks but also knocked down two nice jumpers and played within himself.

Shot Chart

courtesy of Jeff Horne: