Quick hits: Tillman seizes opportunity [w/FREE video], Rams heat up the paint, Wade rising
I’m feeling real good after last night. How about you?
Fact is the Rams are riding a seven-game winning streak, but truth-be-told were the heavy-favorite in about six of those. That shouldn’t discount this streak too much however. Consider the fact Dayton dropped a road game at La Salle and GW fell at Saint Louis. Wins are wins and conference wins are even more precious and less guaranteed.
VCU has about the furthest thing from a guaranteed win when they travel to the suburbs to take on Richmond this Saturday. A win against the Spiders would give VCU their third consecutive road win, a 5-0 start to A-10 play and a three-game lead over the Rams’ crosstown rival. Things would get really real, real quick.
We’ll talk more about that IF it happens. But first…
TILLMAN SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES
I have to start this portion of my Thursday morning blog post by saying I may be the President of the Justin Tillman fan club. I’ve loved this guy’s game, style and general attitude since he hit campus. In my eyes he’s Kendrick Warren incarnate and as a basketball fan the kind of guy you want on your team. Statistically he does a lot of great things but also delivers the style points that makes watching basketball so fun, because let’s be real, at the end of the day we are all here to be entertained.
Tillman had the best game of his career by far last night, dropping a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double while picking up just two fouls in 25 minutes of play. It was his third double-double of the season despite playing 20-plus minutes just six times this season.
And speaking of 20-plus minutes, here are Tillman’s averages during those games his sophomore season:
A-10 PLAY BRINGS IMPROVED TWO-POINT PERCENTAGE
Perhaps it’s been the batch of opponents VCU has faced to start conference play, perhaps it’s been a change in strategy, perhaps it’s been improved play or perhaps it’s just been some combination of all of the above, but VCU currently ranks No.2 among A-10 teams in conference play at connecting inside the arc. The Rams are shooting a red-hot 58.5% inside the arc against Atlantic 10 teams. That’s up from 47% last season, 44.6% the previous season, 51.6% the year before that, 45.1% the year before that (CAA play), 47.5% VCU’s Final 4 season and 49.5% during Shaka Smart’s first year on Broad Street. It’s also 11.5% over VCU’s overall two-point season average this year. IF (if if if) it’s a trend that continues, watch out. It will make VCU an extremely dangerous Atlantic 10 team and one that would most definitely compete for a regular season A-10 title.
WADE IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Think what you will of this, but worth nothing Will Wade’s conference play history as a head coach.
Wade took over a UTC Mocs team that had finished 13-19 overall and 8-10 in conference before he arrived in Chattanooga. His first season the Mocs went 6-8 in non-conference while figuring out what exactly he had, what worked, what didn’t, then went 12-4 in conference action, earning Southern Conference Coach of the Year honors along the way.
The following season the Mocs went 8-6 during their OOC schedule, three of those losses coming to top-100 teams, the other three being road losses. They followed that up by going 15-3 in conference.
Wade put together TECHNICALLY his best non-conference start at 8-5. He’ll be playing against a tougher conference schedule in the A-10 but does so with the conference’s defending tournament championship team. The Rams lost their two best players from the previous season but are off to a 4-0 start in the A-10. Can Wade continue his trend of shining in conference?