THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
The season is rapidly approaching and if you just so happen to be a player, it has already officially begun.
Official practices kicked off this past week despite a summer of workouts, but for fans, our first chance to see what the 2014-15 team is capable of will happen in just 19 days as VCU takes on VCU in this year’s edition of the Black & Gold game that pits havoc against havoc.
October 26 will be VCU fans’ first chance to watch VCU basketball in action at that event. That is followed up by the first action against another team on Nov 7 with VCU’s exhibition opener against Shaka Smart mentor Bill Brown and his Cal (PA) Vulcans. Things get real and real fast the following week when VCU tips up the regular season with a neutral court battle against a Tennessee team coming off a Sweet 16 appearance this past season. That game takes place in Annapolis, MD at the home of the US Naval Academy on Nov 14.
VCU fans will take added pleasure in pointing to the scoreboard with the Rams up 20 this year on opposing teams. That’s because VCU has nearly finished installation of a brand new behemoth of a scoreboard that will hang center court and features massive HD video boards on four sides to help enhance the gameday experience for Ram fans. While the visual upgrade at the Stu will no doubt be the first thing fans notice, the sound upgrade may be the most welcome change. VCU has littered the rafters with with a state of the art sound upgrade that will make VCU PA announcer, Hunter Elliot, sound like Michael Buffer before a heavyweight fight. Check out the first look of what’s to come from VCU’s Around the Horns blogger, Chris Kowalczyk.
VCU is checking in as a top-25 team to start the season in basically all the major college hoops media outlets including a top-15 spot (No.15) in former VCU critic turned VCU lover, Dick Vitale’s, recently released top-25. A major part of that love has come via the media’s faith in big man Mo Alie-Cox and his ability to fill in for the recently graduated Juvonte Reddic. Mo averaged just over 14 minutes per game this past season, averaging 3.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and a team-high 1.4 blocks per contest. It’s that last stat that could make Mo such a dangerous piece for the Rams as his 10.3 blocks percentage led the A-10 this past season, giving VCU a much-needed safety valve at the back of the press for this upcoming season. The Rams gave up a number of easy buckets this past season either as a result of a broken press or in the half court, ranking 174th in college basketball in 2p% defense. Mo’s ability to to potentially better VCU’s defense makes havoc look that much scarier this upcoming season. What’s more, Alie-Cox’s 114.7 offensive rating led the team this past year, all-be-it in limited minutes. He hit a team best 51.9% of his shots this past season. Mo’s ability to shine in increased minutes would work wonders for the both his and his team’s ability to meet preseason expectations set by the media this offseason.