Game Preview: VCU v Stony Brook

[caption id="attachment_12173" align="alignright" width="300"]<a href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-12173" alt="VCU looks to continue the lock down defense Friday night against Stony Brook." src="" width="300" height="200" /></a> VCU looks to continue the lock down defense Friday night against Stony Brook.[/caption]

VCU looks to finish off the non-conference season with a win against an under-the-radar Stony Brook Seawolves team looking to pick up their tenth win of the season. The black and gold have been hot as of late, destroying back-to-back ACC teams by an average of 24.5 points per game while the Seawolves are looking for their fourth-straight win as well as their fourth in a row on the road.

VCU (11-3)

The Seawolves are led by American East Preseason Player of the Year, Jameel Warney. The 6'8 260 forward is a load in the paint and is off to a hot start (15.9 points, 9.6 rebounds) for a team looking to improve on their 25-8 record from last season that included a 71-58 NIT victory at UMass. Three Stony Brook players are averaging double-digit scoring, and that doesn't include defensive standout senior, Dave Coley, a 6'2 guard averaging 9.8 ppg for the Wolves. Stony Brook is led by head coach Steve Pikiell who's in his ninth season with the program. He's taken the team to back-to-back NIT bids but has yet to come up with a marquee win this season. Stony Brook has played one of the weakest schedules in college hoops this season (SOS ranked 325th) and is looking for a marquee win after going 0-2 against top-100 RPI teams. Stony Brook's best win to date was a 104-102 triple OT shootout at Detroit (177 RPI). The Seawolves have lost all four of their top-150 RPI games. Stony Brook has been very accurate from deep this season, connecting on 39.7 percent of their three-point attempts but overall don't attempt a ton of them. The Wolves have given up a 28.3% shooting percentage to opposing offenses beyond the arc, good for 23rd nationally. Like VCU, where they have struggled however is in the paint, surrendering 49.8% shooting inside the three-point line.

The Rams have looked like the Rams we all expected to see this season over the last three games, dominant. Sure, they have struggled to hit shots at times, but a defense that has forced an average of 23.3 turnovers per game during that span while surrendering an average of 53 points per contest has a tendency to help one forgive the occasional offensive woes. When the shots have fallen however, VCU has been downright scary. Sophomore scorer, Melvin Johnson, has been a key offensive piece over the last two in particular, posting 27 points in just 19 minutes of play against Virginia Tech then 12 points in 20 minutes against Boston College the following game. Johnson shot a total of 25 shots over that two-game span, so don't be surprised if the light stays green for the sophomore to rise into the three-ball launching roll that Troy Daniels previously occupied. Juvonte Reddic has seen a two-game resurgence as well, averaging 12 points and 9.5 rebounds in 26.5 minutes and just one foul per contest over the last two. The Rams are a much better team when Reddic is active, but they also allow him to be more active when VCU guards, like Johnson, are able to create space for the senior big by hitting the long ball. One thing to keep in mind with this team as well is the amount of returning experience. The Rams returned just six players from last season's squad, all be it key pieces, but have also had to work in a stable of new faces (8). With the first semester in the books, it will be interesting to see what strides this year's team makes coming out of a holiday break where their main focus for the first time in months is just basketball.

Scoring Offense: Stony Brook 76.2, VCU 75.6
Scoring Defense: VCU 64.8, Stony Brook 70
Effective Field Goal% Offense: Stony Brook  50.7%, VCU 48.4%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: Stony Brook 46.8%, VCU 49.7%
3-Point Field Goal%: Stony Brook 39.7%, VCU 34.6%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: Stony Brook 28.3%, VCU 32.6%
Rebounds per game: Stony Brook 38.6, VCU 35.9
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 28.5%, Stony Brook 17.2%
Turnover Percentage Offense: Stony Brook 17.2, VCU 17.5

For starters, limit Anthony Jackson. Jackson can flat out score, and certainly loves to shoot, averaging just under 12 attempts per game. The Seawolves are 3-3 in single-digit scoring games from Jackson, losing at Indiana and in home games to La Salle and St. Francis (NY). The Rams will look to wear him down as the game goes on as Jackson is averaging over 33 minutes per contest. VCU will need to continue to defend the paint as well. VCU has been able to turn teams over all season, but have sometimes struggled to defend in the halfcourt. The Rams surrendered 66.6% shooting inside the arc to Northern Iowa in their last loss but have given up an average of 11.6 field goals inside of it in their last three, holding opponents to a combined 35-89 from two (39.3%) over their current three-game winning streak. Limit the easy buckets and do what VCU does best, force turnovers, and the Rams are more often than not going to be in good shape.

The Wolves will need to play a poised game to escape what will be a very intimidating environment Friday night. Stony Brook averages 12.2 turnovers per game but are turning it over 14.25 times per road contest. They'll face their toughest challenge when it comes to holding on to the ball against VCU. Stony Brook should look to attack the basket every possession on offense. The Rams have struggled when Juvonte Reddic finds himself in foul trouble, so if the Seawolves' guards can get into the lane, drawing fouls on Reddic as the last line of defense (or forcing him to simply get out of the way to avoid those fouls) or distributing to the very capable Warney, they could find some easy points while potentially saddling on or more of VCU's best players with foul trouble. On defense, Stony Brook would be well advised to pack the paint. VCU's guards have been terribly inconsistent from deep, so until Melvin Johnson and Co. get hot, the gameplan should be to focus on stopping penetration while keeping the ball out of Juvonte Reddic's hands.


Watch: CSN Plus/SNY/CBS 6.3. Official watch parties at Baja Bean Co. in the Fan as well as Buffalo Wild Wings locations at Virginia Center and downtown on Cary Street in Shockoe Bottom.
Listen: <a title="FM 107.3" href="">107.3FM</a>
Live Tweets:¬†<a title="@VCURamNation" href="">@VCURamNation</a>​

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Mat Shelton-Eide
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