Work in progress defense will decide March plans
It was a tale of two defenses last night for the Rams, but if the black and gold want any realistic shot at an eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, defense No.2 is what we’ll need to see a lot more of from the Rams the remainder of the season.
After giving up 45 points on 58% shooting to the Mountaineers of Appalachian State in the first half (68.4% inside the arc) of Tuesday night’s contest, the Sunbelt team was limited to 27 second half points and held to 33% from the field the remainder of the game.
It was one of the better halves of VCU defense we’ve seen this year from the statistically worst VCU defense we’ve seen in a decade, a defense that if it stays the course, is virtually guaranteed to miss out on NCAA tournament action if the Rams can’t collect an A-10 tournament title.
Of the 36 Atlantic 10 NCAA tournament representatives the past decade, only two have gone on to an NCAA tourney with a D that ranked outside of kenpom’s top-100 in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The 2015 A-10 regular season champion Davidson Wildcats were the last team to do so, making up for a sub-175 adjusted defensive efficiency with the ninth-best offense in the country. The only other team to do so this decade was the 2008 Temple Owls who ranked just outside of the top-100 at 102nd nationally, but had the 41st-ranked offense.
This season’s VCU offense has been one of the higher scoring offenses in recent memory but checks in at 79th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and sits just outside the top-100 on the defensive end at No.108.
VCU’s defense is perhaps taking on the most water inside the three-point line, as the Rams are allowing opponents to finish 53.4% of their two-point attempts against the black and gold, ranking VCU at No.257 nationally, the most porous interior D from a VCU team since kenpom.com has been keeping the stat.
The Rams surrendered 61.1% shooting inside the arc last night, coming off the heels of allowing 60.6% to Michigan and 70% to Marquette in Maui. The black and gold have allowed teams to finish a too-easy 61.4% of their twos in VCU’s three losses this season, a scary site considering the four consecutive top-100 teams set to visit the Stu, all of whom are shooting at least 51% inside the arc this season.
Coach Rhaodes addressed some of the defensive questions in last night’s post-game press conference right from the beginning.