This doesn't make sense

Apr 21, 2009
8,629
8,966
I think Evans has been not healthy to some extent all season and that’s been the biggest factor.

I heard from a long time fan that there has been some rift between the upperclassmen and young guys, which makes sense when reading into Williams’ tweet a week or so ago about the “crew” not being right. That being said, the kids on any team don’t have to necessarily like each other to be successful. It certainly helps though.
A rift or dissension among the players does make sense -- we don't know what's going on behind the scenes. Whatever it is, I would think the guys want to play well and win. If there is dissension, it's up to the coaching staff to put a stop to it, IMO.

I agree with your assessment of Evans.
 

Natty

Co-Founder
Top Member
Insider
Feb 12, 2009
5,776
13,810
Some statistical differences to help make sense of things...

A-10 offensive efficiency (the higher the number, the better):
Last year: 107
This year: 100.3

A-10 defensive efficiency (the lower the better)
Last year: 87.2
This Year: 97.1

A-10 margin
Last year: +19.8
This year: +3.2

Note: Basically those number reflect how many points a team would score (offense) or give up (defense) on 100 possessions.

That is an extreme drop for a team that returned almost every key piece and massively upgraded their biggest weakness: backup PG. The difference really has been the experienced players just taking considerable steps back for the most part.

Experienced player A-10 offensive ratings: Last Year/This Year (note: the higher the better)
Evans: 113.4/90.3 (-23.1)
Vann: 112.5/96.7 (-15.8)
Jenkins: 111.3/107.6 (-3.7)
MSS: 119.6/104.6 (-15)
Simms: 88.1/91.7 (+3.6)
Williams: 94.4/87 (-7.4)

That's basically your core returned minutes. The only improvement in offensive efficiency has been Simms, but that's only taken his offensive efficiency (and I'm not trying to hate here, just explaining the numbers) from "pretty bad" to "meh". We lost Sean, but his offensive rating was just 95.3, so efficiency wise he was basically one of the worst in last year's core group.

The "other guy" effect: A-10 opposing team defensive improvement from Last Year to This Year
Rhody: 102.9/90.8 (+12.1)
Richmond: 109.2/91.3 (+17.9)
Dayton: 96.3/94.4 (+1.9)
Mason: 101/104.6 (-3.6)

Three of those teams have improved, two of which having done so quite massively, going from bad defensively to essentially elite. Dayton had made a little step forward on D but matches that with the best offense we've seen in the A-10 in a while. Mason took a step back from bad to worse yet somehow managed to hold us to 67 points at home, which to me points to something beyond just "other teams got better" (because Mason is worse than last season).

My thoughts: Coaches and players say it's about "want to", but I'm not sure I really believe that. I don't think our guys want to win any less than they did last year. I'm pretty sure they really wanted to win badly last night to avoid our worst losing streak in 20 years, but couldn't get it done and were essentially embarrassed in the process. I think this is basically where your coaches have to really step in and show their skill level, take the pieces we have, use the numbers, consider the "want to" if you believe in that dark arts type of stuff, then put your chess pieces in the best position to win games.

I know the roster is something that has to be frustrating the heck out of the coaches right now because the group that went 16-2 in the A-10 last season has looked like a 2-16 team a lot this year, so they likely feel like their hands are tied and are just praying the experienced guys turn it around. I've seen more and more experimenting with the lineup, so I know they are working to figure out how to crack the code (they played 11 guys dub-digit minutes last night), so clearly it doesn't appear the staff has given up. I just hope they hit on something soon because this has been a brutal stretch the likes of which I can't remember at VCU.
 
Nov 3, 2014
66
203
I think Evans has been not healthy to some extent all season and that’s been the biggest factor.

I heard from a long time fan that there has been some rift between the upperclassmen and young guys, which makes sense when reading into Williams’ tweet a week or so ago about the “crew” not being right. That being said, the kids on any team don’t have to necessarily like each other to be successful. It certainly helps though.
Picking up on the “crew” comment and total speculation here.

Our seniors have never lacked ego and swagger. In my opinion sometimes way too much and to a fault. I wonder if the dwindling confidence started fairly early on in practices where our newbies were out performing our seniors and that was not only a hard pill to swallow but caused rifts and consternation. We then get blown out and lose some we should not but Mike stays “True” to his seniors despite what he has on the bench and what everyone on the team knows to be the right thing to do. His justification is nothing more than out of loyalty and riding who got you there last year.

To me the biggest difference this year is our defense has not been remotely as good as last year. It’s like as seniors we’ve valued scoring the basketball vs stopping the other team more. And at times our “offense” looks like that NBA garbage.
 

bobthemule

Insider
Nov 5, 2015
8
18
I rarely start a thread, but I just can't wrap my head around what's happening right now. Just to recap:

1. These same starters and coach won the A10 last year.
2. This is a tournament team from last year returning all starters, coach, and system
3. This is a team that started the season ranked in the Top 25.
4. The first half of this season was like any other. Strong OOC schedule, big win against LSU, started strong in Conference play.

Everything was going exactly as expected. Yeah, we didn't get a win in Florida but that wasn't a big deal, they were competitive.

So what happened? Rhode Island beats us at home and we fall completely apart? Is there dissension in the lockerroom among the players that we don't know about? This is not the same team that started the season.

I'm not looking to play the blame game as it's likely a perfect storm of suck and not one thing, but this just doesn't make sense.
We as fans can't figure this out? Everyone in the stands and on the air waves sees the same thing. We have a chance to change everything in Brooklyn at the A10 Tournement. We all remember last year being number 1 didn't help. Maybe this year we could have players play without any pressure and enjoy the game they all know how to play. Looking forward to the next game and what the coaches do to fix this obvious issue. Happy that we have tickets to the A10 in Brooklyn. RAM FAN THROUGH ALL TIMES!!
 

Ramdog

Top Member
Feb 10, 2009
6,723
13,387
As others have noted in related threads and game threads, something has been off since the Florida tournament. This team has the look and feel of a team that has quit. I wish we knew what the real issues are here. That said, it's on the coaching staff to figure it out and correct it. It's baffling to see such a negative turnaround from one season to the next with essentially the same team. It's within the realm of possibility that this crew finishes at or below .500 in the conference -- mind boggling considering 16-2 last year...
This
 

Love2Ram

Top Member
Feb 25, 2011
1,447
3,197
Something has been off since the Florida tournament in many ways because that was the first time we went on the road. I go back to the fact that this team simply cannot win a tough game outside of playing at home with a sold out crowd cheering for them. We have proven that all year. The league is vastly improved while we rely on a returning caste. I also don't think our OOC schedule was as tough as some want to believe. Opening the season with six home games, two neutral sites, followed by two more home games was not exactly putting ourselves through the grinder. We outperformed in a really weak conference last year. As usual, the early season prediction polls were way off. That's not limited to VCU or our conference as the same can be said for all of college basketball. If anything, we should learn to stop giving so much credence to preseason polls or using them against our coach as performance measures.

Mike's in his third year and seems to have brought in a promising group of freshmen. If next year's incoming group is anything as good as billed or even close to this year's newcomers then we will be in good shape moving forward. We could have began the year with 10 seniors and found ourselves in worse condition than we are now. Our seniors are a great group of gentlemen, however they're not good enough to win the A-10 this year on their own. Once we except that, start focusing on our youth, and support the development process I think we'll all be happier. Last year was fun, maybe even a blessing of sorts while we stitch together the necessary talent to win at a high level but our rebuild is going to take longer than we had hoped.
 

VAHills

Top Member
Insider
Mar 27, 2013
2,842
6,025
Things really come down now to winning the right games at the end. In 2015, after Briante’s injury, the wheels came off for a bit. We played Thursday in Brooklyn in the tournament, vs Fordham, and that game was tied late, it really could’ve gone either way. Had we lost, I’m not sure Texas still comes calling. Figure it out now, scrap out our first game in Brooklyn, and get after it on what’s left. Still plenty of time to end this story on a positive note.
 

VCU85

Top Member
Jan 26, 2016
3,784
5,977
My thoughts: Coaches and players say it's about "want to", but I'm not sure I really believe that. I don't think our guys want to win any less than they did last year. I'm pretty sure they really wanted to win badly last night to avoid our worst losing streak in 20 years, but couldn't get it done and were essentially embarrassed in the process. I think this is basically where your coaches have to really step in and show their skill level, take the pieces we have, use the numbers, consider the "want to" if you believe in that dark arts type of stuff, then put your chess pieces in the best position to win games.

I know the roster is something that has to be frustrating the heck out of the coaches right now because the group that went 16-2 in the A-10 last season has looked like a 2-16 team a lot this year, so they likely feel like their hands are tied and are just praying the experienced guys turn it around. I've seen more and more experimenting with the lineup, so I know they are working to figure out how to crack the code (they played 11 guys dub-digit minutes last night), so clearly it doesn't appear the staff has given up. I just hope they hit on something soon because this has been a brutal stretch the likes of which I can't remember at VCU.
At this point in a season, experimenting is not gonna get you consistent wins. Teams have been playing together since Nov. Fine-tuning their games, and lineups. By January, you better have your lineup fairly well fleshed out or you're gonna be playing catch up in every game you play.
 

HBK

Top Member
Mar 29, 2010
4,215
9,284
When a team underperforms, it is on everyone: players and coaches. A coach has to figure out how to reach the players, the buttons to push and the rotations, etc. The players must execute the plans on the floor. On offense a coach can only design a scheme to get guys good looks. A coach cannot make the shots for the players. I’ve seen so many missed layups and bunnies this year and wide open threes missed. That leads to one area that most fans seem to be missing: the talent of the seniors isn’t as high as we need. This is what happens when you have three coaches in four years. The attrition is hard to overcome.

Let’s face facts: we outperformed last season, in part because the A-10 was down, and in part because the kids played loose and free. They built confidence as the season wore on. Even in losses (@ top-10 UVA), they were in the game until the end, which was a confidence builder. We overachieved for many reasons, but we weren’t the most talented team VCU has had either.

This season the A-10 is so much better, and many teams improved as their younger players improved from last season. The biggest improvement in players is typically from freshmen to sophomore and/or from sophomore to junior. By the senior season, most kids are who they are, with improvement coming at the margins. Other than Jenkins, who of our seniors was a highly recruited player? Of our seniors, who really has been an all A-10 caliber player? Evans and Jenkins? I love Evans, but he has been bitten by the injury bug since he got here. As they say in football, the best ability is AVAILABILITY. I think Vince could be special, but the injury bug seems to have gotten to him too. Hopefully he will have a healthy off-season. If so, then I believe you’ll see great improvement from him next season.

The overall talent and athleticism of our freshmen is better than our seniors, as a group. However, they are freshmen and they do freshmen things. I think Bones has a chance to be an all-time great at VCU, but he does freshmen things sometimes. (See late 2nd half against Dayton when he took a terrible midrange jumper, missed badly, then fouled Crutcher 80 feet from the basket; frustration foul.). Ward, McCallister and Clark are all showing encouraging signs and all are athletic.

The talent level is starting to improve, but it’s young talent. When the seniors aren’t playing well as a group, then a 17-10 record is what you get in an improved conference. It stinks. We all hate it, because after outperforming last season, we are underperforming this season. I still believe the future looks bright, and I am excited to see the freshmen getting some valuable minutes now. The only thing we can do is to grin and bear it at this point.
 

VCU85

Top Member
Jan 26, 2016
3,784
5,977
Well said, and it sucks. I really think the 3 coaches thing is coming home to roost currently. If this is as bad as it gets then VCU will be OK going forward. That's based on what I see as the talent of the underclass kids.
 

theyaintwantit

Top Member
Dec 22, 2009
751
1,925
Well said, and it sucks. I really think the 3 coaches thing is coming home to roost currently. If this is as bad as it gets then VCU will be OK going forward. That's based on what I see as the talent of the underclass kids.
Evening up your classes for a basketball program is tough and MR is doing a pretty good job of it, but it takes years.
 

dso1ramfan

Top Member
Insider
Mar 7, 2013
130
385
They are clearly struggling but I don’t think they have quit. We have some good wins and some really close losses. The bad losses? Who knows? but I don’t think they have thrown in the towel. maybe they will catch fire again. But never forget, this is a game and they are kids who put in the time and effort. Disappointment is one thing but going after kids and coaches is something else.
 

VCU85

Top Member
Jan 26, 2016
3,784
5,977
Evening up your classes for a basketball program is tough and MR is doing a pretty good job of it, but it takes years.
Yep, I've said it before, He gets his 5 years. I think VCU is on an upward track, but if they don't do something to make some noise the rest of the season, he's going to lose potential recruits going forward.