Let's roll. Time to set the stage for a big roadie. Richmond represents a
top 100 RPI win, and another road victory--3-0 on the road in
conference is meaningful considering VCUs home court advantage. Plus, we get all those bragging rights until the rematch on March
6.<br />
<div id="yiv2016682451yui_3_7_2_20_1358892688064_382"><br id="yui_3_7_2_18_1358964776054_162" /></div>
<div id="yiv2016682451yui_3_7_2_20_1358892688064_302"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Three Facts</span></div>
<li>The last time VCU played in the Robins Center Richmond ran out to a 49-19
lead and coasted to a 12-point win that wasn't nearly that close.</li>
<li>Every Richmond player that has logged meaningful playing time has made a three-point basket.</li>
<li>Richmond freshman Alonzo Nelson-Ododa is the 32nd best shot blocker in
the nation, swatting a shot on 10.5% of the possessions he is on the
<span style="text-decoration:underline;">Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Things I'm Watching</span>
<div id="yiv2016682451yui_3_7_2_20_1358892688064_110">1. Three
Versus Two, Me Versus You.
We all want to talk about havoc, however the
key to this game may reside in solving the Richmond defense. The Spiders play a
confounding matchup zone that isn't easy. Richmond is giving
up 65.6 ppg this season and their 23.4% turnover rate is 28th
nationally. In the early going, I'm looking for how VCU attacks the
defense. Are they getting easy layups? Are
they settling for outside jumpers? I expect the VCU defense to produce
run outs and layups. What I don't know is how VCU is able to solve the
zone action in the halfcourt. My view: pitch the ball to Juvonte Reddic and get out of
the way. Force Richmond to adjust.
2. Arcwork Advantage. The
Rams struggled in three of its past four games from deep but
had a get-healthy 12-31 performance at Duquesne.&nbsp; Here's a
cacophony of stats to tell you why it's critical VCU knocks down more
threes, at a higher percentage, than the Spiders. Richmond
leads the A-10 and is 29th in the nation in three-point percentage
(38.0%). The Spiders are second in the A-10 and 26th in the country in
per game (8.3), behind VCU (8.7). Richmond's Darien
Brothers tied a school record with eight three-pointers against Charlotte and leads the A-10 and is second in the nation in three-point
percentage (50.9%).&nbsp;
And Troy Daniels broke a 1-15 slump by
hitting two of his last three at Duquesne.

3. Home Sweet Home. The
Spiders are 10-1 at home this season and it's no wonder. Richmond is shooting 40.0% from three at home, while
holding opponents
to 28.1 shooting from behind the arc. (Notable: VCU
has made double-figures threes in four of its five true road games.)
What's more, the Spiders whomped VCU in the last game played in the
Robins Center. What I'm looking for is a sense of calm, of comfort, in
the eyes and body language of the Richmond players. It is imperative
that VCU eliminate this comfort, thus removing any mental edge. Expect VCU to severly pressure the three Richmond ballhandlers, and body up the post players.

Height, Age.
Richmond is young and unproven at a position that's
critical to this game: up front. Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, Deion Taylor, and Terry Allen are
freshman and while athletic, do not possess the
experience nor strength to effectively match up with Reddic. There's pure offense and
defense, but there's also this: Richmond
allows opponents to grab 36.9% of its misses--315th nationally.
Conversely, VCU grabs 39.0% of its misses, 13th best in the country. VCU
must pound the glass and take advantage. Also look to the #4 spot,
where experienced Greg Robbins will match up with Treveon Graham.

5. Length, Age. The battle of
experienced backcourts will be fun and interesting--Brothers and Ced
Lindsay versus Theus and Daniels. That's fun for the college basketball
fan. VCUs advantage must come from every player thereafter. Kendall
Anthony is a sparkplug, but his diminutive size should have the eyes of VCUs trappers and interceptors lighting up. Plus, all of the Richmond guards trying to
throw passes around and over the long arms of Briante Weber, Rob Brandenberg (and all
others) is key. The Rams must also win the battle of long, young big
men: Jarred Guest versus Deion Taylor. Both players have been taking
steps forward.

<span style="text-decoration:underline;">We Don't Work For Free</span>

It's a three-headed monster in the backcourt. Darien Brothers (16.2ppg, 2.5rpg) is the best pure shooter VCU will face this season. Brothers is second in the nation in three-point shooting but can also play inside the arc.Ced Lindsay (9.5ppg, 3.4apg) dropped 22 points on the Rams last season and is a tremendous guider of the offense. Yes, I made up that word because I hate the term facilitator (too clinical for basketball). Lindsay can really break down opponents off the dribble--here is where defend with discipline comes into play.Lindsay and Brothers are upperclassmen who won't be scared by havoc. Oh, they still have to deal with it, but they won't be afraid.Pint-sized Kendall Anthony (12.8ppg, 1.5apg) rounds out the solid backcourt trio. Anthony is pesky and a pest, and can light up the scoreboard. It's all about containing the sparkplug--he is very good with hesitation moves, and when you back off to contain that, he will pop a three.Down low, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (3.4ppg, 4.2rpg) will be a very good big man in this league, but he has two things going against him: he is a freshman, and he has to deal with Juvonte Reddic. Ododa is a shot blocker but isn't a fan of contact. I will say that if Ododa is able to contain Reddic--defense is the youngster's strength--that would be troubling for the good guys.Greg Robbins (6.8ppg, 3.8rpg) has played the four--at an undersized 6-5--for the Spiders this season and is a very good passer. That makes the Treveon Graham (and downstream impacts) matchup intriguing. Robbins is a glue guy who will need to bring the Costco-sized bottle of Elmer's tonight.Deion Taylor (3.3ppg, 2.3rpg) is a super-athletic freshman who has taken advantage of playing time opportunity in the wake of the Williams injury for Richmond. Taylor had a carer-high 13 points Saturday against Charlotte and can hit an open three. He also sports a sweet JR Reid/Kid 'N Play fade haircut.Wayne Sparrow (4.3ppg, 2.1rpg) and Trey Davis (1.9ppg, 1.9rpg) are both strong, good-looking combo guards who can defend multiple positions and play with energy.
<span style="text-decoration:underline;">The Message</span>

sounds oversimplified, but it must be amplified: the most important
aspect to this game may be knocking down shots. VCU seems to make threes
in bunches, and of course made threes allow the Rams to set up the
press.<br /><br />On the other side, for Richmond it's about confidence. The Spiders take, and make, a pile of threes. They
have the crowd, and the ability to get off to a quick start will pay off
in middle-game situations. Plus, long misses lead to long rebounds. If
Richmond is misfiring from three, the long rebounds make it far easier
for VCU guards to get out in transition and make multiple rim runs.
Threes are more important to the Richmond attack.<br /><br />Early game may
matter a great deal as well. VCU has a way of cranking up after about
six minutes. If the Rams can get out to a 12-4, 16-8 lead, when they get
into that havoc zone a big run could be a killer. However if Richmond
knocks down shots and the VCU run begins with the Spiders leading 14-10,
well, it's a different feel and different ballgame.
Picture cheerleaders from a 1950s football game. Bullhorn in hand, giant pom poms waving, everyone shouting to the staccato beat:
Guard. That. Line.