VCU will look to stop the bleeding today in what has been one of the worst two-game stretches in program history.
Following a 27-point loss at kenpom No.132 Dayton (who followed up their victory over VCU with a 16-point blowout loss at Saint Joseph’s), VCU had hoped for a bounce-back against hapless rival Richmond, a Spider team who limped into the Siegel Center with a sub-200 national ranking and a 4-13 record. What happened next went down as one of the worst losses in VCU history, as the Rams were thoroughly embarrassed on their home court in what was VCU’s lowest ranked home loss since losing to No.312 JMU on January 26, 2005. The Spiders led VCU by as many as 21 points, making it the fourth consecutive game in which VCU trailed an opponent by double digits (two of those games at home against sub-150 teams) and sadly the game before that stretch wasn’t much better, an overtime road loss to Saint Joseph’s. VCU has now trailed a team by double-digits in over half of their games this season.
Can this team’s issues be fixed? We’ll look for clues on that today.
A QUICK LOOK AT GW
After four consecutive 20-win seasons, the Colonials of GW are looking to break that pleasant streak thanks to a 9-10 start under second-year head coach, Maurice Joseph. Gone are the talented experienced transfer players. All that remains is one “Chosen One”, a senior Harvard grad and a youthful group looking to build something in Foggy Bottom under the leadership of their 32-year old head coach. That chosen one, 6’9 Japanese forward, Yuta Watanabe, is likely all you’ll likely recognize during today’s game. Surrounding him for the most part is a group of underclassmen that makes up the nation’s 204th “most experienced” team. With that inexperience has come struggles, GW’s offense ranking 212th nationally, their D not much better at No.192. The Colonials have been one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country all season long and have carried that weakness into A-10 play where they check in at No.14 in conference games in 3-point%, a hopeful sign for a VCU defense that checks in at No.13 in A-10 three-point defense. The Rams will also welcome the A-10’s current 12th-ranked 2-point% defense, as GW has given up a ridiculous 57% shooting inside the arc during their six conference games. Quite frankly there isn’t much of anything GW does well, making today’s game not only a must-win in my opinion, but a must-impress as well. GW is 0-5 in true road games this season, having lost all by double-digits and three but 20 or more points.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
Each and every game preview I’m setup to talk about how solid VCU’s offense is and how horrible the defense is. On the season the Rams have been a pretty capable shooting team — although yes, struggled against Richmond — but absolutely abysmal on the other end of the floor, boasting the black and gold’s worst rated defense since kenpom started tracking defensive efficiency during the 2001-2002 season. Those defensive struggles have been on full display throughout the year but were amplified to 11 these past two contests, allowing Dayton to drop 66 first half points on the Rams (106 on the game), then allowing a sub-200 Richmond offense to connect on 53.7% of their attempts. But unfortunately, the Rams defense may be worse than you even realize. See the following:
VCU defense versus top-100 offenses
Average points/game surrendered: 86.5
2p% defense: 64.3%
3p% defense: 38.4%
true shooting% defense: 64.6%
effective FG% defense: 61.5%
Those are quite frankly un-VCU type numbers, that true shooting percentage meaning the Rams are basically giving up a basket two of every three trips down the floor to opponents that actually know what they’re doing.
Trying winning a tough game like that. Try being an NCAA tournament team like that. It just doesn’t and won’t happen.
Coach Rhoades on the situation following the loss to Richmond: “We gotta look in the mirror. We gotta work harder, we gotta get smarter, starting with me. We gotta find some different ways to do a couple different things”
I think we’ll see a bit of what that looks like today.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Scoring Offense: VCU 76.7, GW 64.4
Scoring Defense: GW 68.7, VCU 75.2
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 51.9%, GW 47.7%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: GW 52%, VCU 52.4%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 35.8%, GW 30.3%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 35.3%, GW 35.8%
2-Point Field Goal%: VCU 50.8%, GW 48.9%
2-Point Field Goal% Defense: GW 51.2%, VCU 52.1%
Rebounds per game: VCU 37.4, GW 33.1
Turnover% Offense: VCU 18.8%, GW 19.3%
Turnover% Defense: VCU 18.3%, GW 17.6%
VCU WINS IF
Love to see a team play harder, but also really enjoy a team playing smarter.
GW plays just six guys, all of whom are about as good as me at hitting a DI three (although Steeves was much better his frosh year at Harvard than he’s been since, so a warning there). The Colonials shot selection is about as bad as you’ll see from a team, so I wanna watch us make them continue to take those dumb shots today.
Only 28.6% of GW’s shots come at the rim, 32.6% beyond the arc and most of their attempts, 38.8%, are 2-point jumpers.
Why you ask? Because it means you are taking a good number of shots that have close to the degree of difficulty of a three, but the value of a layup.
I wanna see VCU’s D protect the rim much better than we did these past two when we allowed Richmond to finish 59.5% of their twos and Dayton a ludicrous 73.3% of their deuces and force the Colonials to hit those hard ones, something they haven’t proven themselves capable of doing on a consistent basis this year.
On the other side of the floor the Colonials have allowed A-10 teams to hit 57% of their twos, ranking them 12th in the conference in that stat. VCU’s offense ranks fourth in Atlantic 10 play in 2-point offense. So there ya go. Play those numbers. Win the paint and win the game.
Kenpom: 72-65 VCU win with a 76% chance of a Rams victory.
Game tips at 12:30PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA