I will apologize in advance for the brevity of this review/preview post. Today was a work-slash-travel day, and I'm just settling into Philadelphia.
Last night was more fun that we thought, despite the lack of an uproar (unless you are named Danny Hurley). VCU managed to defend their way through a 1-17 start to the second half and roll to a 68-52 victory.
Don't fret on the shooting. The second half brickfest was an outlier. Besides, when you force 20 turnovers and grab 20 offensive rebounds, you will plenty of shots at the basket. This just in: Juvonte Reddic has posted four straight double-doubles.
Briante Weber's windmill dunk was rather uproarious, no?
So here we are in north Philly, a date with Young Frankenstein tomorrow night. Phil Martelli, as he's known in basketball circles, is the longest-tenured coach in the conference. His Hawks are playing well and will defend a sold out Hagan Arena with a lot on the line.
Saint Joseph's, who can claim Joe Lunardi as their radio color analyst, is 5-3 in the A-10 and 15-7 overall. They are in a similar position as LaSalle last year–pretty good record, pretty good team, pretty good momentum. LaSalle played well down the stretch and ended up in the Sweet 16. You can bet that's been mentioned by Peter Boyle.
The Hawks can shoot it–38.3% from three is top 40 nationally, and they shoot better than 50% on two-point shots as well–top 100. The halfcourt defense for the Rams that has showed so very well in the past two weeks will have to be there.
What's more, keep an eye on the offensive glass. VCU is pummeling its opposition off missed shots. And St. Joseph's is the nation's ninth-best defensie rebounding team. Reddic is important, but so is Big T and Mo Alie-Cox. Importantly, the guards will have to rebound well.
St. Joseph's is immensely talented but immensely thin. The Hawks had only 27 bench minutes in their last game, a loss to SLU. Their sixth man had 20 minutes, another played six minutes, and one other guy got one minute. That's it. Cumulative effects of havoc, anyone?
This is also why it's very important for VCU to get off to a quick start in this one. The Hawks don't stand much of a chance if they are forced to play from behind, or match the VCU intensity in a tight game, is their legs are rubber and their minds are cluttered.
Langston Galloway (16.2ppg) is their man. Galloway swished his way to 10-16 from three against VCU last year, averaging 23.5ppg in two games. He is a 44% three-point marksman this year. To me, it's simple: the fewer points Galloway scores, the less chance the Hawks stand.
Ronald Roberts (14.4ppg, 7.1rpg) is a 6-8 jumping jack and uber-athletic big man. Roberts plays with a high motor and can really get going. He is shooting 56.4% from the field this year and is a dunker. That is a compliment. VCU needs to keep a body on him.
Halil Kanacevic (11.1ppg, 8.7rpg) is the first of two very good Hofstra transfers VCU will face this year. Kanacevic is absolutely a tough player, an SOB who again, that is a compliment. He is a crafty passer and has all kinds of up-and-under moves. Kanacevic is one of those guys you absolutely hate but would kill to have him on your team.
DeAndre Bembry (10.9) is a freshman wing who will make the all freshman team and challenge for A10 frosh of the year. Bembry is a much better driver than shooter, and is tough for a youngun'. Bembry, though, can be sped up and turned over.
Chris Wilson (9.7ppg) is a key because VCU can take advantage of him. Wilson can be a big scorer, but he plays loose. You know what that means: blood in the water. Outside of Galloway's scoring, Wilson's ability to play a solid and disciplined game is perhaps the most important facet of the game.
Papa Ndao (4.4ppg) is the sixth man who gets about 18-20 minutes per game. Ndao is 6-8 and one of those guys who looks awful and uncoordinated on the court, until he makes a play and buries you. Ndao is 11-21 from three on the year.
Isaiah Miles and Daryus Quarles will see spot minutes. Both can shoot and are dangerous, but neither palys much defense.
It's time for VCU basketball. I don't say that as if we have not seen that, epecially over the past two weeks. But this is the kind of game that's like asking your friend if he'd like a beer, and then you open your fridge to show him five cases of Stella. Havoc in full force is what wins the day.
That means making every inch of the basketball court uncomfortable for St. Joseph's, making them fight for everything except a slow jog to the locker room at halftime. The Rams need to attack the offensive glass, attack the ballhandlers, and attack the paint.
Basically: overwhelm them with enthusiasm.
Please pardon the typos.