ReconU. Dayton BasketballRecon: VCU

Dayton heads to Richmond with plans on burning it all down

Some quick thoughts on the UMass game before we head into the Richmond Professional Institute coverage. It was another ho-hum outing, one that makes us long for the excitement of March. Nevertheless, we will never, ever, downplay a league road win.

  • Tre Mitchell went right at Obi and more than held his own. It seemed like even the staff was taken aback by how aggressively UMass was pounding it inside. UMass outscored your Flyers 40-34 in the paint (enjoyed a 16-7 edge in second-chance points) and were a decent Carl Pierre shooting performance away from having a legitimate shot at winning the game.
  • That being said, it never felt like UD was in trouble. Crutcher’s offensive explosion midway through the second half allowed UD some breathing room and it was pretty much all she wrote from that point forward.
  • UD actually shot better from three than they did inside the arc, that’s not likely to happen again.
  • Due to the living room atmosphere at the Mullins Center, the team, particularly Obi, heard every comment coming from the student section. Mr. Toppin was not happy after the game.
  • Black ladies love AG! There were older women lined up after the game to take pictures with our fearless leader. He is catnip to the older cats.
  • Ibi Watson was frustrated all game, he just couldn’t find his spots and had a few letdowns on the defensive end. As a result, we saw more from Cohill and Matos.
  • Chimichanga came in a played a very serviceable 12 minutes. He was able to push Mitchell around early in the first half and used his “physicality” effectively. Sure, he fouled out but his aggressiveness stood out in what was a very subdued performance from UD.

I don’t know if you guys were aware of this, but VCU is fucking reeling right now. The Richmond Rams are 7-5 in league play and have lost three of their last four games, including what seems like a season killing loss to Richmond over the weekend. For now, it would appear that Rhode Island has solidified itself as a tournament team while VCU and Richmond are hanging on for dear life. The Spiders are trending up, winners of four straight with a favorable schedule remaining.

VCU faces the NUMBER FIVE team in the nation before visiting a tough SLU squad on Friday. While a disastrous performance against UD will obviously put the Rams even further behind the eight ball, a two loss week could be all she wrote for Virginia Commonwealth. The Flyers have the opportunity to put their feet on the throats of VCU, possibly squeezing the life out of them before they even hit the road for St. Louis. What a time to be alive, indeed.

VCU has been struggling offensively lately, culminating in a 59 point outing that saw the Rams shoot just 34% from the field (19% from three) in the loss to Richmond. Has Marcus Evans given up on this season? Inquiring minds want to know. Evans has been a shell of his former self this season, he scored one point on 0-of-7 shooting against George Mason before sitting out the Richmond game with a “sore knee” this weekend. His availability against Dayton is unknown at this point. One thing that is certain? Evans has NO CHEST.

Marcos Santos-Silva remains a constant double-double threat for VCU, and while he didn’t have much of an impact against UD the first time, he is certainly capable of putting up numbers against the Flyers. Bones Hyland has seen an emergence during A10 play, the four-star recruit can heat up quickly and provide a much-needed perimeter presence for a team that has experienced inconsistent three-point shooting all season.

De’Riante Jenkins and Isaac Vann are the lone seniors on Mike Rhodes’ club, and they certainly were not expecting to go out as an NIT team during their final year in Richmond. But alas, this is where things stand. Jenkins is a kid who unfortunately never got the amount of credit he deserved, always playing second or third fiddle on some very good teams. We will not be sad to see him graduate. Vann, the heralded transfer from Maine, never quite lived up to the hype. I haven’t done the research, but I’m assuming that at 24 years old, Vann is the oldest senior in the nation (and I’m strictly talking about players who had no interruptions over their career–so Mormon mission guys and kids who did some military service don’t count). Obi Toppin, who turns 22 on March 4th, would more than likely be the oldest sophomore in the country. There’s some needless trivia for you.

The numbers agree with the eye test, the Richmond Professional Institute is on thin metaphorical ice. After a sparsely filled Cafenasium saw the Rams drop a pants-shitter to George Mason and then losing the Capital City Lumber Liquidator Classic (that’s actually what they call it) to city rivals Richmond, the guy who can’t fit into his ram costume and that girl who improves her self-esteem on Twitter are PANICKING. Dayton can deliver the knock-out punch to VCU’s at large March Madness hopes Tuesday night.

Fellow stat nerd Erik Haslam noted that after the two losses last week dropped 11 spots in his ratings and the two L’s they picked up were two of the five “worst losses” this season. We all know the Rams foundation is built on defense, but in those two losses VCU conceded 1.03 points per possession against George Mason and 1.07 points per possession against Richmond. Given that VCU is averaging giving up 88.44 points per 100 possessions this season, we see both the Patriots and Spiders were able to exploit the usually stout Rams defense.

Was there anything in those games that the Flyers might be able to exploit on Tuesday? Both George Mason and Richmond were able to do better than most have against VCU at the rim. Mason shot 54.2% from their field goals at the rim and earned 1.08 points per shot on those attempts. Richmond shot 72.7% and 1.46 points per shot on their attempts at the rim against VCU. All of these figures are higher than the 52.1% field goals % allowed and 1.05 points per shot at the rim the Rams are averaging this year. While Marcus Santos-Silva and dem boyz are a threat to block a shot, as seen in their 8.5% block rate as a team, there seems to be cracks in their interior defense recently.

The VCU interior defense wasn’t helped in those two losses by the fact that George Mason and Richmond burned the nets down from the perimeter. The Patriots and Spiders knocked down 40% and 50% from deep respectively in their two wins. I’ve beat into your head all season that variance can affect 3-point shooting in individual games. A typically poor shooting Mason side had a great shooting night, while Richmond are always a threat from deep. Could VCU do much about either case?

We’ve gone over the real quiz here is the number of attempts the Rams allowed from the 3-point line in these two games. George Mason only took 28% of their field goals from three, which is below their low season totals. With that, we see VCU was the unfortunate recipient of a team with some good shooting luck. However against Richmond, a team who typically takes 37% of their shots from three, the Rams allowed the Spiders to take nearly 40% of their attempts from deep. Allowing such a good shooting side that many attempts is a recipe for disaster.

Allowing teams to do better than they typically do at the rim and giving up a bunch of threes is certainly not a formula to beat Dayton. The Flyers are still 1st in 2-point field goal % at 62.2% and average 1.35 points per shot at the rim. They are also shooting 37.1% from three, good enough for 25th in all of Division 1. If Dayton is anywhere close to these averages on offense, it could be tough for the Rams to keep up. Because…

…VCU’s offense has sputtered recently. Overall this season, VCU has had a good offense. Their offensive rating for the season is at 105.69. Compare that to the 0.96 points per possession the Rams earned against George Mason and 0.82 they put forth against Richmond. While players like Marcus Santos-Silva and Bones Hyland can be efficient scorers for the Rams, much of the issues VCU faced last week came down to shot selection. 

Typically the Rams are an average shooting side from the perimeter and take an average number of shots from deep, but against George Mason they took nearly 40% of their field goals from the three-point line and only hit 30% of them. Threes aren’t VCU’s strong suit, but against Richmond the Rams relied on the inefficient albatross around the shot selection neck of mid-range jumpers with predictable results. 34.3% of VCU’s shots came from the mid-range against the Spiders and they only earned 0.5 points per shot from them. Yikes.

Like the Spiders last week, Dayton was able to force VCU into those uncomfortable mid-range shots in the first meeting of the season. The Rams took 39.5% of their shots at UD Arena from the mid-range, where they averaged a slightly better but still not great 0.75 points per shot. Anytime a VCU shot isn’t Marcus Santos-Silva shooting in the paint or Bones Hyland open for a three has led to inefficient shots more often than not. If Dayton can force the Rams into being a jump-shooting team, it will help their chances of ending VCU’s season for all intents and purposes.

Dayton hasn’t played a more desperate team this year than the VCU squad that awaits them Tuesday night. The Rams are in a total freefall and a win over Dayton would surely cure all the ails them. The opening line came in at -3 Dayton, we never give gambling advice on the BBR (as I have lost a small fortune wagering in my lifetime and wouldn’t want to put that kind of evil on readers) but you’d have to like UD’s chances to cover in this one.

I’m going to assume VCU goes right at Obi with Santos-Silva and hopes the crowd can keep the Rams it the game last in the second half. Won’t happen, Dayton wins 75-65. The Richmond Rams continue to slide into conference irrelevance while the Flyers will be firmly in position to run the table in the A10. A win tonight would give Dayton around a 40% chance to head into Brooklyn with a 18-0 league record, the road trip to URI being the main sticking point. STAY LOWD.

 

Tom Blackburn

Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.

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