Game Preview: VCU v Chattanooga [INSIDER]

Fifth-year Chattanooga head coach, Lamont Paris, brings a tough Chattanooga Mocs team into the Siegel Center today for a 4PM tip with the VCU Rams. The black and gold are coming off a confidence-building road win at Vanderbilt while Chattanooga has yet to lose this season including a season-opening top-100 road win at Loyola Marymount. Will the Rams keep improving or will the Mocs be the second non-conference foe to hand VCU a Siegel Center loss this season?
[am4show have='' not_have='' user_error='' guest_error='' require_all='']

VCU (2-1)

An experienced Mocs team who has been on the steady climb these last three seasons comes to the Stu today as winners of three straight. Similar to the Wagner team that just upset VCU, Chattanooga boasts several key grad students headlined by leading scorer, David Jean-Baptiste (17.3 ppg, 45% 3p%). Jean-Baptiste is a three-point sniper on a team that typically likes to get up a lot of those. The Mocs took about 40% of their shots from long range this past season, connecting on 35.4% of them (ranked 90th nationally) and while they haven't been as three-point dependent this season through three contests, have that card in their back pocket to make them a scary opponent for the Rams today.

What's even scarier is the fact the Mocs ranked 30th nationally in turnover percentage offense last season, up to 17th through three games this year. UTC averages just 8.3 turnovers, a bad sign for a VCU team that sits on the other end of the spectrum offensively and is heavily dependent on turnovers on D to create easy points on the other end of the floor. VCU has averaged 18.7 turnovers on offense so far this season, a key bugaboo in the Rams' slow start to the season.

Another troubling stat is Chattanooga's current ninth-ranked offensive rebound percentage. VCU has had problems attacking the glass this year, so that could spell trouble, could be somewhat misleading in a small three-game sample. While the Mocs have looked great in securing second-chance opportunities THIS season, that's up from last season's 310th-ranked offensive rebounding team last year with a lot of the same pieces. Will they revert to their old ways or have they turned over a new leaf?

Chattanooga does not play a particularly deep bench, relying for the most part on six key players in tight games and tops go about eight deep. Jean-Baptiste alongside sophomore point guard Malachi Smith (14.7 points, 5.3 asts) and 6'6 wing Darius Banks (12.3 ppg, 5.3 rebs) are all averaging over 33 minutes per contest. That trio is joined down low by Saint Louis transfer, KC Hankton (8 ppg, 5.7 rebs) and Kansas transfer, Silvio De Sousa (7.3 ppg, 4.7 rebs).

Last seaon's Mocs ranked 249th nationally in effective field goal percentage defense, but are up to 36th in the nation so far on that this season. VCU will hope the Chat of old will show up on D today.

VCU through three so far has essentially looked like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens or whichever NFL team you prefer who had an elite defense and a mediocre to miserable offense. This was put on full display in the Rams' most recent win, a 48-37 rock fight win at Vanderbilt. VCU shot just 32% in the win and turned the ball over 22 times, but that mattered little considering they held the Commodores to 22.6% shooting themselves and 21 turnovers themselves. In three games so far for the black and gold, only three total 100+ offensive ratings have been registered by Rams players (that ain't good), with VCU checking in as one of the nation's 10 worst turnover offenses, one of the worst rebounding teams in the country and one of the worst shooting groups for good measure with the 302nd-ranked effective field goal percentage in the land.

[caption id="attachment_30617" align="alignright" width="300"]<a href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-30617" src="" alt="" width="300" height="200" /></a> Freshman Nick Kern had career highs in minutes, points and rebounds in VCU's recent win at Vanderbilt and leads the Rams in almost every key advanced metric in his brief time on the court so far.[/caption]

BUT...again, Baltimore Ravens here, VCU ranks 23rd nationally in effective field goal percentage D (were 14th last season, but actually allowing fewer points per possession so far this year), ranked second in the country in effective field goal percentage defense and you can basically go down the list on every other defensive stat and VCU currently sits in the top-10. We're talking uuuuugly basketball, but so far good enough to at least knock off an SEC team on the road led by the conference's preseason Player of the Year (he, Scotty Pippen Jr, went 2-10 against VCU and had five turnovers).

Improvement stats: VCU shot a season-best 31.6% from three against Vanderbilt and out-rebounded them after two consecutive games of getting crushed on the glass. The Rams however killed themselves with turnovers and were incredibly inefficient scoring inside (33.3%), keeping the game much closer than it perhaps needed to be.

Annoying stat: 27% of VCU's attempts this season are the analytically-frowned up "two-point jumper"...or "long two". That's up from 18.7% last season and the highest of any Mike Rhoades-led VCU team. VCU is connecting on just 21.6% of those worthless shots and three starting Rams (Nunn, Curry and Stockard) have seen over 40% of their attempts come via long two where they are connecting on just 22%, 11% and 0% of them. That is not helping VCU's offense.

Scoring Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">UTC 73, VCU 49.7</span>
Scoring Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 49.7, UTC 57</span>
Effective Field Goal% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">UTC 50.3%, VCU 42%</span>
Effective Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 33.9%, UTC 41.6%</span>
3-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">UTC 34.4%, VCU 25%</span>
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 19%, UTC 25.8%</span>
2-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">UTC 49.6%, VCU 44.1%</span>

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 37.1%, UTC 43.4%</span>
Rebounds per game: <span style="color: #ff0000;">UTC 39.3, VCU 32.7</span>
Turnover% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">UTC 13.5%, VCU 28.2%</span>
Turnover% Defense:<span style="color: #339966;"> VCU 28.2%, UTC 18.3%</span>

Havoc is supposed to be VCU's thing, but so far the Rams have lost the turnover battle in two of their first three games. That's not because havoc has gone away, it's because offensively VCU can't get out of their own way and are turning the ball over as much as they are taking it away. VCU's ability to reign that in today I think is huge against a Chattanooga team that was fairly mistake-free this past season. You just can't give the other team so many more opportunities to score, so I'm looking to see if VCU can finally show some poise on offense today. I think if they do they pick up their second in a row, but if the turnover issues remain, they are looking at their second home loss in a row instead.

Kenpom: 65-60 VCU win with a 68% chance of a Rams victory.

Game tips at 4PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA


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
Connect With Us