I admit I never bought into the whole revenge angle when it came to the Butler game. To me, it didn't fit. We've got too much going on this year to tie anything to that year. Stakes, as I like to describe it.
Now these Richmond Spiders? Oh, I've got a Mack truckfull of revenge I'm carrying, and I would gladly like to see it unloaded at 1200 West Broad Street beginning at 8pm. Those of you at home can watch the Rams unload the truck on CBSSports Network.
You remember January 24. If you don't, I don't know what to tell you. Just know this is one of those games that was not circled at the beginning of the season, but it was most certainly circled on January 25.
Look, you never know what's going to happen with everyone else. You can only control what you can control. Saint Louis has Xavier and LaSalle to finish the season. It would be nice to wi the regular season, but you know what? All we can do is our part.
There's nothing more fun than winning. So let's win, and let the chips fall where they may.
- Ced Lindsay has scored in double figures in 8 of the last 10 games and
is averaging 17.1 ppg in the last 6 games.
- UR leads the A-10 and is 16th in the nation in threes per game (8.4) and is
2nd in the A-10 and 30th in the nation in 3pt pct (.380).
- The Spiders rank 38th in turnover margin (2.7).
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Things I'm Watching
1. Finishing, Especially At The Rim. The way Richmond plays defense puts an emphasis on converting in one-on-one situations. This would seem to be a VCU advantage, as the Rams lead the A10 in two-point field goal percentage (51.9%) and Richmond is 11th defending the two-pointer (50.1%). There's Rob Brandenberg (2-10 in first game) getting to the rim, but Treveon Graham (4-11 in first game) looms large. He has to dispirit the Spiders around the basket. I am looking at how well VCU drives the lane on Richmond.
2. The Ghost of Karch Kilray. Let's say the first shot isn't falling. Fine. VCU is a top 20 nationally offensive rebounding team. Richmond allows more than 37% of opponents shots to be rebounded by the offense (15th in A10). Quite simply, I'm looking for a volleyball game to break out at VCUs basket.
3. Differentials. There's the always important turnover-differential that is key to havoc. Richmond battled VCU to a stalemate in the first game. That has to be plus 8 or better. But I'm also looking at three-pointers differential. The Spiders made 12 and VCU just three in the first game. I'm not saying VCU has to win this stat, but my goodness it has to be better than a minus 27 points.
4. Early Sloppiness. There is no better motivation than "these guys just beat you." We know all about the VCU effort, but it will be important in the early going of this game to avoid trying too hard. I'm keeping a keen eye on bad passes in transition, silly reach-in fouls, and over-the-back calls. It's a tone-setter if the Rams establish themselves without crossing the line of discipline because they are forcing it, or trying too hard. VCU should be fine if they simply, well, Be VCU.
5. More of the Finishing. This comes through a general lack of being satisfied. A 10-point lead must become 15 points. A 15-point lead must balloon to greater than 20. Similarly, a five-point deficit needs to become a lead. Look, it comes down to the haunting memory of a seven-point lead with 40 seconds to play becoming a loss. I want to see a "no lead is safe" mentality.
We Don't Work For Free
It all starts in the backcourt for the Spiders, but we're going to start with Derrick Williams (9.0ppg, 2.8rpg). You see, the 6-6, 270-pound Williams did not play in the first game, but he matters. Williams has big boy inside moves but can step out and shoot the face up jumper. VCUs mission: tire the big fella' out.
We move from there to a near copy/paste, and updates:
It's a three-headed monster in the backcourt. Darien Brothers
(14.0ppg, 2.9rpg) is the best pure shooter VCU will face this season.
Brothers hit you-know-which shot.
Ced Lindsay (12.6ppg, 2.6apg)
has become more of a scorer as the season has worn on for Richmond. Lindsay can really break down
opponents off the dribble–here is where defend with discipline comes
Lindsay and Brothers are upperclassmen who won't be
scared by havoc. Oh, they still have to deal with it, but they won't be
Pint-sized Kendall Anthony (10.2ppg,
1.8apg) rounds out the solid backcourt trio. He plopped 26 big ones on the Rams in the first meeting, including a late three and three free throws. Anthony is pesky and a
pest, and can light up the scoreboard. It's all about containing the
sparkplug–he is very good with hesitation moves, and when you back off
to contain that, he will pop a three.
Down low, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa
(4.6ppg, 4.0rpg) will be a very good big man in this league, but he has
two things going against him: he is a freshman, and he has to deal with
Juvonte Reddic. Ododa is a shot blocker but isn't a fan of contact.
(7.2ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.2apg) has played the four–at an undersized 6-5–for the
Spiders this season and is a very good passer. That makes the Treveon
Graham (and downstream impacts) matchup intriguing. Robbins is a glue
guy who will need to bring the Costco-sized bottle of Elmer's tonight.
(5.7ppg, 2.4rpg) hit two threes in the first game and has really progressed throughout the year. He is a super-athletic freshman who took advantage
of playing time opportunity in the wake of the Williams injury. He also sports a sweet JR Reid/Kid 'N Play
Wayne Sparrow (3.6ppg, 1.9rpg) and Trey Davis (1.1ppg, 1.7rpg) are both strong, good-looking combo guards who can defend multiple positions and play with energy. Davis was pretty freaking strong in the first game.
Terry Allen (4.3ppg,3.6rpg) has also improved as the season has worn on. Allen is a 6-8 four man who plays hard.
It's senior night. The snow is falling in a manner befitting havoc. It's Richmond. They beat us six weeks ago. It's a chance to go 24-6 (12-3).