If I'm Shaka Smart, and I think we can all agree and exhale in Thanksgiving glee that I am not, I'm running tape of the first five minutes of the Belmont game over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. The VCU players' eyeballs would bleed with that tape.
The Bruins swished three three-pointers in the game's first two minutes, and were 7-8 from the field (and 4-4 from three) in the first five minutes. They weren't exactly falling out of bounds with a hand in their face, either. Belmont jetted to a 20-10 lead before VCU realized "hey, we may want to play a little defense."
After that grotesque display was burned into their minds, I would pop in a tape of those two minutes in the Georgetown game, where the Hoyas couldn't cross halfcourt. Rob Brandenberg actually was smiling in mid-dribble things got so very havocy. I'd show them the difference between playing spirited VCU basketball, and playing basketball. Finally, I'd probably splice a tape of a lion chasing down an antelope. You know, for effect.
That's all buildup to the single most-important facet of tonight's game against Eastern Kentucky: guard with passion, especially the three-point line. The Colonels visit That Animal taking nearly half their shots (46.9%) from beyond the arc. That's seventh-most in the country and I don't need KenPom to define that as "a lot."
That passionate defense will not only shut down EKUs prolific flings, it will also create turnover opportunities. They turn the ball over on 15.2% of their possessions–that's 42nd best in the nation. However Warren Wilson, Brescia, Alabama A&M, and High Point are not exactly playing in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. This is another level for the Colonels.
These are the number one and number two teams in steals, so we should have some fun tonight. And with all that guard play and three-point prowess and three-point defense, I have two words for you, and that's all you really need to know.
EKU is led by scoring machine Glenn Cosey. The senior is a high-volume scorer–he netted 20 or more points for three straight games before their last effort at NC State and he averages 19.0ppg. Cosey hit 25 threes but has every shot in the book.
Cosey is backed by Corey Walden, a 6-2 guard that can post up in the lane. Walden (11.6ppg) is one of those guys that makes very good decisions with the basketball, and he is their best wing defender. It would be nice to disrupt their compass.
I'm not linking to the YouTube videos of Marcus Lewis (12.9ppg), mainly because (1) you've seen the one where his head is at rim level; and (2) the rim is 10 feet off the ground. VCU needs to crowd him, and check his shoes for Flubber.
Orlando Williams and Tarius Johnson are both green light shooters with deep range. Ditto freshman Isaac McGlone, who will see spot duty.
EKU is not big. (See: Juvonte Reddic). Eric Stutz is 6-8, and it's kind of funny that the only player who sees the floor that has not made a three-pointer this year is their energy player who sets hard screens and attacks the glass. Jeff Johnson is similar (6-7, 251lbs) and is more skilled than his plodding size would dictate.
VCU is 60-7 in That Animal since Shaka Smart arrived. I can't see any way the guys will not be pumped up, playing in front of the 39th straight sellout. Your geeky tip of the night: keep an eye on how the Rams guard ball screens. EKU runs a ton of them, and most end up freeing a three-point shooter.
You know, seeing that Belmont tape would probably give them the motivation needed to pull it off, right?