VCU looking for a breakthrough

This morning I did two things after taking my kids to school:

  1. I dug up our non-conference stats and our A-10 stats to see if the Rams are in fact getting better, as we’ve heard Coach Rhoades mention in a presser or two.
  2. I listened to Coach Rhoades’ post-game press conference following this week’s heartbreaking loss at Richmond.

Let’s connect the two and zoom to my point and my newfound reason for optimism. Starting with the key part of Rhoades’ presser at the 8:36 mark:

“We’re still not there. Yeah you’re right, after 24 games, why aren’t you there? We’re not there. Period. That’s real talk…Maybe we will in a week, maybe we will Saturday, maybe we will in two weeks, maybe we will in March up in DC, but we’re not there yet.”

Savor that quote while I post these numbers.

Tale of the Tape: OOC versus (A-10 play)

Scoring Offense: 77.8 (76)
Scoring Defense: 74.2 (75.90)
Effective Field Goal% Offense: 52.6% (51.5%)
Effective Field Goal% Defense: 51.5% (51.4%)
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 37.7% (31.6%)
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 32.9% (34.9%)
2-Point Field Goal%: VCU 50.3% (53.9%)
2-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 52.8% (50.8%)
Turnover% Offense: VCU 18.2% (19.7%)
Turnover% Defense: VCU 19.4% (17.2%)

*Average Opponent kenpom rank: 142.6 (175.8)

I was curious about those numbers because I’ve heard more than one person say we’ve gotten better. So I wanted to look at our measurable growth, to see if we had in fact gotten better, which I wasn’t convinced of, only to find we have statistically actually regressed in most areas and have done so against a weaker schedule than we faced earlier in the season.

But I am oddly encouraged by the numbers.

Why?

Well because they tell me two things: the first of which is it is a fact that we are indeed capable of playing better than we currently are. It’s right there on paper. In the beginning of the season an inexperienced motley crew of new Rams actually competed with some of the top teams in the country, including a now 23-1 UVA team that is ranked No.1 at the moment by kenpom.com.

That intro level of play at worst should be the mean level of play of this year’s team and at best should have been essentially the basement level of play from which we gradually built off of.

Is it possible at the end of this season VCU’s best ball will have come in November? Definitely. But one would imagine that goes against the norm, especially with a team of eight new pieces and a completely new coaching staff.

Rhoades was perhaps the most open version of Mike Rhoades we’ve seen since he was hired this past offseason following the loss to Richmond. It wasn’t quite Will Wade throwing stat grenades at his team and the media, but it was in my opinion one of the most honest assessments of this year’s group I think I’ve seen from him.

And he’s right.

We aren’t there yet. Maybe we’ll see a bit of “there” on Saturday though. Maybe it will come later, but I think from the numbers, we know for a FACT we are capable of taking down any team in this conference and if we see ANY bit of improvement from how we’ve proven capable of earlier this year — I’m talking real statistically measurable improvement — we are capable of being the best team in the Atlantic 10 when it matters most and going on a crazy run through the nation’s capital essentially a month from today.

 

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