Jameel Warney is a man. Warney is six feet, eight inches, and 260 pounds of basketball bulldozer. He put a 32/21 double-double on Detroit earlier this season that included 11 ofensive rebounds. That game followed a rather pedantic 23/19 dub-dub against Florida Atlantic. Warney is fifth in the nation in field goal percentage and has six double-doubles on the season. Warney leads Stony Brook into tonight's 9pm tip.
Mr. Warney, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Mohammed Alie-Cox. He will be your dance partner this evening.
In fact, VCU information czar Scott Day says an NFL scout will be on hand in That Animal tonight. Clearly this is a good opportunity to see how Warney and Cox perform in a third-and-six situation.
All kidding aside, tonight's matchup is an interesting study in being comfortable versus being comfortable with who you are. The Rams have been all over the place, tic-tac-toeing a weird nonconference schedule over the past three weeks. VCU has played about a game per week, going to Cedar Falls and back home. Down to the Coliseum. Up to Barclays. Two major holidays and a pile of practice time was interspersed in there.
Tonight, the team piles into That Animal for the final nonconference dress rehearsal of the year, March notwithstanding, and looks to the rhythmic A10 conference season. where familiarity smacks us over and over and over again every 3-4 days.
There is a comfort in being home, a familiarity. The routine of the same bed, the same steps to the same training table to the same locker room to the same court is reassuring. That aids in the team's ability to lock in and focus on the task at hand. VCU has had that this week, and that is a good thing.
However havoc doesn't exist within the confines of comfort, not for VCUs opposition but most importantly not within. Its success depends upon playing with an edge, an attitude, that is not dependent upon venue or external stimuli. It requires you to leave comfort on Broad Street for a few hours.
It's being comfortable with who we are, different than enjoying comforts, which means for about two hours the VCU players become sonsofbitches. It's important tonight because the team hasn't had the repetition and comfort of predictable routine. They shouldn't have to turn on the havoc, because it's already there, because that's who we are.
Stony Brook is no joke. They are picked to win the America East and won 25 games last year. They have Warney, quite the bruiser and a right-handed Frank Hassell with a better face-up jumper, but also guards who can flat out score. Anthony Jackson and Dave Coley are pure bucketmakers, and Tre Puriefoy and freshman Ahmad Walker are not scoring slouches.
The Seawolves aren't particularly deep, so knocking down the frontline players a peg or two is important.
You make scoring guards' life miserable by making them uncomfortable, and you don't make people uncomfortable by being comfortable. You make them uncomfortable by being so far inside their head you can neuroimage their frontal lobe.
The trend line is there. In VCUs last three games, opponents are averaging 53.0 points, 23.7 turnovers, and shooting 35 percent (51-144) from the field.
When the Rams have the ball, it's cleaner: over the first 10 games, VCU was averaging 13.9 turnovers per game. In the past four games, the Rams are averaging just 9.3 turnovers. It's important tonight for VCU to move the Stony Brook defense around, to get them out of position. That will lead to open shots.
Side note: The Rams are a perfect 6-0 this year and 23-3 over his career when Juvonte Reddic grabs 10 or more rebounds.
Here's where that nets out: I don't know that Stony Brook wants any part of the VCU style of play. But VCU has to acept the challenge of playing to the VCU style of play. And that's a whole lot easier if it's who you are–you can't just turn on havoc.