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New VCU Wrinkle Gives Rams Big Potential

Something you may have noticed over the last few games and certainly something I’ve likely made you aware of if you frequent our forum, is VCU’s dabbling into a new two-big lineup this latest chapter of the season.

The black and gold have opted for a small ball look most of the year, playing 6’5 senior wing, Mike’L Simms, the majority of the minutes at the four spot. The Highland Springs grad turned Ram by way of JUCO transfer is currently the fifth-most played player on the team, averaging a VCU career-high 23.3 minutes per contest including 25.5 minutes per contest over VCU’s last four. But within that four-game winning streak, the Rams have done a little more experimenting with the rotation.

Lately, VCU has brought Corey Douglas in at the four alongside starting center, Marcus Santos-Silva, typically around that 16-minute mark in the first half, then has even dabbled in giving freshman Larry Sanders clone, Hasan Ward, minutes alongside Douglas for yet another two-big look with the first sub out of Santos-Silva.

The results have been extremely promising and have made the Rams a downright terrifying team and real threat to No.7 Dayton’s current Atlantic 10 dominance.

Those who follow me in the forum have watched me slowly calculate these numbers, but for everyone else, here are the CliffsNotes:

VCU’S MARGINS (MINUTES PLAYED) USING DOUBLE-BIG LOOK DURING RAMS 4-GAME WIN STREAK

v. St. Bonaventure +17 (12:15 of play)
@ St. Joseph’s +10 (11:09)
@ La Salle +5 (9:03)
v Richmond +24 (11:40)

Total: Outscored their opponents by 56 points in 44:07 of play

Big to big: A triple-teamed Santos-Silva finds Douglas for the easy dunk in VCUs dominant win over Richmond.

Note: VCU outscored those same opponents by a combined margin of just 15 points the other 115:53 of action in those contests (0.1 points per minute).

Those numbers show just how difficult of an opponent the black and gold have been during their current four-game stretch, a borderline night and day version of Mike Rhoades’ squad, while employing a two-big lineup. Considering the fact a college basketball game is just 40 minutes long, VCU’s double-big look has absolutely mauled their A-10 foes since going to it. The Rams are outscoring their opponent by 1.3 points per minute to what stretches out over 40 as a 50-point win versus the 0.1 per minute going small, a five-point victory.

As good as the seventh-ranked Dayton Flyers have been on the season, their largest A-10 W so far has been a 28-point win. Does VCU’s double-big look make them an even scarier team than one of the current top-10 teams in the nation? A larger sample is likely in order to answer that question, but the early look suggests it puts VCU at least closer to playing on the Flyers’ level.

Going off the early data from VCU’s new wrinkle, it certainly appears to be a sample the Rams will want to attempt, especially considering VCU’s Friday road rematch against a Rhode Island team that came into VCU and downed the Rams 65-56. VCU paired bigs for a total of 19 seconds of action in that contest and trailed by as many as 15 points on their home floor in the loss.

Corey Douglas checks in at second on VCU’s team in overall box plus/minus and third in player efficiency rating, but just ninth in minutes played (one minute behind Vince Williams who has missed the last four games completely due to a broken hand).

It might be time that changes if VCU wants to ultimately unlock their full potential, at least as far as this season is concerned.

 

VCU School of the Arts (BFA '07) and Center for Sport Leadership (M.Ed. '10) alumnus, Mat has followed VCU basketball since the Sunbelt days when he'd...

AlienAiden

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@Natty, wow! I did not know Simms has averaged 23 minutes a game. I did notice that he logged the most minutes in the La Salle game though.
 

Natty

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It's not a new wrinkle. It's a conventional lineup.

Rhoades has been using 2 bigs in the lineup since he got here.
It's new to this year's team.

Can you add up how many minutes we played any combo of Corey, MSS and Hasan over our first 18 games?

Also Sean being 6'9 last year did not make him a "big". He shot more threes than twos as a Ram and ranked seventh on last year's team in offensive rebound percentage and sixth on last year's team in defensive rebound percentage (and tied for fifth in blocks percentage). He was big, but not "a big". We have yet to have this combination of good defensive bigs under Rhoades. We had big guys, but no one who could defend and do what this trio can do.
 

Natty

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The main thing to focus on in this article is we have been world-beaters with two bigs (particularly Corey & MSS, but Has and Corey have shown promise as well) and A-10 average when we aren't playing two bigs. The points per minute margin is shocking to me. It's like two completely different teams.
 
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duncanlamb

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It's new to this year's team.

Can you add up how many minutes we played any combo of Corey, MSS and Hasan over our first 18 games?

Also Sean being 6'9 last year did not make him a "big". He shot more threes than twos as a Ram and ranked seventh on last year's team in offensive rebound percentage and sixth on last year's team in defensive rebound percentage (and tied for fifth in blocks percentage). He was big, but not "a big". We have yet to have this combination of good defensive bigs under Rhoades. We had big guys, but no one who could defend and do what this trio can do.
We rotated corey, MSS and Mobley all the time, played Corey and MSS together in the UVA game. I agree Mobley was soft but he defended the others team's 4 and MR ran the high low action through Mobley all the time.

Again, this really isnt new.
 

AlienAiden

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All I am saying is that it cant be new if Rhoades has been playing Corey and MS together for the last 2 years.

Its like saying Mike Rhoades just discovered fire.
I would have to look at the combos but most of the season he has been subbing Douglas for Silva and usually having a smaller line-up or Williams in with Douglas. It was actually a new wrinkle as Natty has pointed out. In the A10 a bigger line up with two bigs is helpful.
 
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It's new to this year's team.

Can you add up how many minutes we played any combo of Corey, MSS and Hasan over our first 18 games?

Also Sean being 6'9 last year did not make him a "big". He shot more threes than twos as a Ram and ranked seventh on last year's team in offensive rebound percentage and sixth on last year's team in defensive rebound percentage (and tied for fifth in blocks percentage). He was big, but not "a big". We have yet to have this combination of good defensive bigs under Rhoades. We had big guys, but no one who could defend and do what this trio can do.
Playing a wing at PF has been standard for years. It’s fine when it’s Tre. Vince has enough heft many nights. Rhodes has tried Vann and Simms. They are completely unsuited for it, leaves us to vulnerable. To keep doing it as a first option against most teams at this point is just f’ing stupid.
 

AlienAiden

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Playing a wing at PF has been standard for years. It’s fine when it’s Tre. Vince has enough heft many nights. Rhodes has tried Vann and Simms. They are completely unsuited for it, leaves us to vulnerable. To keep doing it as a first option against most teams at this point is just f’ing stupid.
The only time UR had their way on Tuesday night was when VCU had Simms playing the 4. Cayo was finding his way to the basket and Golden was able to score with ease because Silva was on an island.