Game Preview: Rams ride six-game win streak into matchup with St. Bonaventure

VCU and St. Bonaventure are two A-10 teams who have consistently competed for a top spot in the league these last few seasons, but after a mass transfer exodus in Olean this offseason, can Mark Schmidt keep the Bonnies toward the top of the standings with the red-hot Rams?

VCU RAMS (16-5, 7-1)

Kyle Lofton, Osun Osunniyi, Jaren Holmes, Dom Welch and Jalen Adaway put together one of the toughest group of A-10 starters the conference had to deal with the past few seasons and on paper this offseason, looked to be one of the best returning groups the A-10 was prepared to see. Then no one returned.

Adaway went pro, Holmes and Osun off to Iowa State, Lofton to Florida and Welch to Alabama and with that, Mark Schmidt found himself captain of the A-10's largest rebuild. With 0.2% last last season's minutes played returning the Bonnies look completely different, but Schmidt, arguably one of the A-10's best coaches, is trying to find away to keep what has been a proud program from being an Atlantic 10 cellar dweller.

While figuring out their new roster, the Bonnies put together a very unfamiliar 6-7 losing non-conference record and in A-10 play got off to a decent 4-2 start, but with a loss to the Rams today would fall below .500 at 4-5, which would be the Bonnies' first losing record through nine conference games since 2014.

Schmidt is trying to avoid that with his tested strategy of pretty much only playing his five best players. The Bonnies rank 323rd nationally in bench minutes on the season, which is actually up from 358th this past year. A good chunk of those minutes are being used by Daryl Banks, a transfer junior who was a part of St. Peter's stunning Elite 8 run this past season. Banks leads the Bonnies at 16.4 points per game in 38.3 minutes a night. The 6'3 guard is hitting a dangerous 37% from three, has two 30+ games this season and just dropped 29 on Fordham in a surprising 11-point home loss.

Banks is joined by sophomore Holy Cross transfer, Kyrell Luc. The Patriot League Rookie of the Year made his way to Olean where he's averaging 12.7 points for Bona and a team-high 4.5 assists per game. While those two get up most of the shots, the Bonnies as a whole haven't been especially efficient offensively as a group, checking in at No.226 nationwide in adjusted offensive efficiency this year. The Bonnies have been a bit better on the defensive side of the ball, but foul trouble and an inability to protect the paint have kept Bona outside of the defensive top-100.

The Bonnies have played just one top-100 team this season, a 23-point loss at Saint Louis and are the only team to lose to Loyola Chicago in A-10 play this year.

You know these guys by now, but here's my fun and eye-opening stat of the weekend: +17.2

Mat, what number is that? Well I'm glad you asked. That is VCU's current efficiency margin in Atlantic 10 play. But Mat, what is efficiency margin? Well offensive efficiency is how many points a team scores per 100 possessions, defense being how many they give up in that many, subtract the difference and you have efficiency margin.

So with that, VCU's current +17.2 leads the Atlantic 10, a comfortable margin ahead of Dayton (+12.2) and SLU (+11), but what I think might interest you the most, Ram fans, is the +17.2 -- if VCU can finish at that number -- would be VCU's second best ever in the A-10, checking in just behind their +19.8 during the 2018-19 season in which they won the A-10 regular season title and earned an at-large bid to the dance.

<span style="color: #339966;">12-13: +11.9 (2nd place)</span>
<span style="color: #339966;">13-14: +12.3 (2nd place)</span>
<span style="color: #339966;">14-15: +7</span>
<span style="color: #339966;">15-16: +15.7 (shared regular season title)</span>
<span style="color: #339966;">16-17: +12.4 (2nd place)</span>
17-18: -0.6
<span style="color: #339966;">18-19: +19.8 (regular season champs)</span>
19-20: +2.8
<span style="color: #339966;">20-21: +4.9</span>
21-22: +9.1
22-23: +17.2 (TBD...)

<span style="color: #339966;">Green = NCAA tournament team</span>

<span style="color: #000000;">Following tonight's contest VCU will officially be halfway through the season. There is so much runway left for the Rams and at the end VCU will have either taken off or crashed, but I for one find that stat to be incredibly encouraging and have just been so extremely impressed with how the Rams have played as a team since around 8PM on January 13th. </span>

Scoring Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 71.5, BONA 67.1</span>
Scoring Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 63.5, BONA 67</span>
Effective Field Goal% Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 52.4%, BONA 48.5%</span>
Effective Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 47.2%, BONA 48.2%</span>
3-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 36%, BONA 34.3%</span>
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">BONA 29%, VCU 32%</span>
2-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 51.5%, BONA 46.8%</span>

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 46.8%, BONA 51.1%</span>
Rebounds per game: <span style="color: #ff0000;">BONA 33.8, VCU 32.4</span>
Turnover% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">BONA 18.4%, VCU 21.9%</span>
Turnover% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 25.4%, BONA 19.5%</span>

I think if the Rams can limit turnovers (don't beat themselves) and keep Bona from getting hot from beyond the three-point line, they extend their winning streak to seven heading into a tricky road stretch at Davidson and then Saint Louis before coming home to host Dayton. So just reading that, you should see how important it is to avoid a letdown today with the Rams' most challenging stretch of conference play staring them down the following two weeks.

Kenpom: 71-60 VCU win with an 83% chance of a Rams victory.

Game tips at 6PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA

Watch: CBS Sports Network

Listen: <a href=";pname=1248&amp;campid=header&amp;cid=index.html">Fox Sports 910 AM &amp; 98.5 FM</a>
Live Tweets: <a href="">@VCURamNation</a>

About author
Licensed Virginia Realtor and part-time basketball writer. Co-founder of and
Not open for further replies.


There are no comments to display.
Not open for further replies.

Article Information

Mat Shelton-Eide
Article read time
2 min read
Last update