Fans love offense. We celebrate dunks and threes and post YouTube videos of sick crossovers that sometimes don’t even result in a made basket. There is another side to this sport however, a side this VCU team and successful teams before it mastered to earn their way to NCAA tournament appearances.
VCU sophomore Marcus Santos-Silva gets little fanfare from the league office or media for just how huge of a part he has played in helping make VCU into quite frankly the only at-large worthy A-10 team at this point in the season.
Replacing 2018 A-10 First Team selection, Justin Tillman, many around the league expected the Rams to struggle this year, graduating Tillman’s 18.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game for a predicted conference finish of seventh in the league. What’s happened so far has been quite the opposite.
VCU’s overall improved defense, jumping from 156th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency in 2018 to fourth as of this posting, has a lot to do with the 6’7 sophomore from Taunton, Massachusetts.
Santos-Silva has yet to win an A-10 Player of the Week honor, but currently leads the conference in overall box plus/minus thanks largely to his No.2 defensive box plus/minus ranking. That’s huge and very promising considering every previous leader in that stat since VCU joined the conference has seen their team go on to play in the NCAA tournament that season.
Santos-Silva is No.1 in win shares per 40 minutes over the likes of A-10 Player of the Year favorites Josh Cunningham (Dayton), Javon Bess (Saint Louis), Jon Axel Gudmundsson (Davidson), Justin Kier (George Mason) and our very own Marcus Evans, just to name a few. He ranks No.1 in defensive rating over the league’s only returning All-Defensive selection (SLU’s Javon Bess) and overall has just been a monster part of what has made VCU so much better this season, typically doing so with more substance than style.
Santos-Silva checks in at No.2 in total rebound percentage and is third in blocks percentage. He’s one of the best team defenders we’ve seen at VCU.
Offensively he’s been no slouch either. The big man has taken a nice step forward in his expanded role this season and is off to a strong start in Atlantic 10 play. Santos-Silva’s 114.7 in-conference offensive rating ranks 14th in the league, his 11.4% offensive rebound percentage sixth and he’s drawing more fouls per 40 minutes than anyone in the A-10 at seven per 40. His 58.8% effective field goal percentage is tied with that of Justin Tillman from last year and is better than the senior seasons of previous VCU legendary big men Mo Alie-Cox (54.3%), Juvonte Reddic (51.4%), Jamie Skeen (56.7%) and Larry Sanders’ final season at VCU (his junior year) at 54%.
Best part about all of the above? He’s just a sophomore. That’s a great sign for the future of VCU basketball under Mike Rhoades and Co.