VCU 80, Duquesne 65: Or, Same Old Story, Same Old Song And Dance…
It would sure save everybody a lot of angst if VCU didn't bother playing the first half of basketball games. I need a second hand to count the number of games the Rams have slogged through the first 20 minutes, reaching the break in both discomfort and a close game.
You know you've had the discussion as you waited in line for a drink. Some version of "what's our problem?" and "I have no idea" are bandied back-and-forth like a summertime game of badminton. Fortunately, the players and coaches have an idea. They get back in the locker room while you are serving the shuttlecock and run through the details of BLAMMO, otherwise known as the second half havoc punch.
Last night the topic of locker room conversation was obvious. It took nine minutes for Treveon Graham to attempt a shot in the first half, and Graham took three shots in the first 90 seconds of the second half. What's more, there was a concerted effort to get Juvonte Reddic the ball down on the blocks. The big guy was rewarded, and he rewarded the guards.
Reddic took a pass from Briante Weber and finished with a layup to help the Rams reclaim the lead at 36-35. The shot came as part of a 13-3 blammo that was highlighted by a Melvin Johnson three from Shaka Smart's lap.
Later, JeQuan Lewis drilled back-to-back threes to give VCU a nine-point lead. Lewis then did his best Weber and fed Mo Alie-Cox with a lob pass. Cox landed and pogo-sticked for a dunk, extending the Rams lead to double-digits for the first time. Johnson struck again with back-to-back triples to spark a 14-4 blammo over a span of just 2:29 to give VCU a 19-point lead at 71-52.
Here's a few things that stood out to me, and then we will move forward:
Granted the last three or four minutes of the game was statistical garbage time, but VCU got 54 minutes from spots 7-11 in the rotation. Remember, that group played just 25 minutes against GW on Tuesday.
JeQuan Lewis is riding the freshman rollercoaster and had struggled the past few games. However last night was a hold-your-hands-up-and-scream evening. Lewis had six points and four assists, but again looked comfortable on the floor.
Reddic displayed very little frustration and a lot more fire when he was forced to play out of double teams. That is the true dividing line for seeing Angry Juvonte: when faced with discomfort, will he get mad or frustrated?
VCU grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, or 40% of its misses. Reddic had six offensive rebounds himself.
It wasn't all lollipops and lob dunks. VCU committed 17 turnovers, the fourth straight game the Rams' turnover number has increased. And after going 50-67 from the line (74.6%) against Stony Brook and George Mason, VCU has gone 15-34 (44.1%) against GW and Duquesne.
Eight of Melvin Johnson's 11 field goal attempts were threes, and I'm good with that. Very good with that. (Side note: Briante Weber swished his first three of the year and then missed 15 straight–some were ugly. Weber has made 4-8 from three in the past two games.)
Good lordy mercy, Big T: