In a season bereft of important showdowns, tonight’s game against Virginia Commonwealth is a welcomed change of pace. The pressure is fully on the Rams, as a loss to Dayton would technically give the Flyers a two-game lead over Richmond and a three-game lead over VCU as UD would have tiebreakers over both the Spiders and Rams. While that certainly isn’t an insurmountable lead, it will be an extremely comfortable margin for Dayton with ten games left on the schedule — the majority of which will be against the lower-tier squads of the A10.
Again, the onus is on VCU to make this a race. If your Flyers TCB tonight, the Korporate Kasuals Korporation might as well start printing up t-shirts.
- With all the speculation surrounding the return of Josh Cunningham, the question remains — is it in Archie’s best interest to bring the big man back this season? Cunningham will be rusty and probably not 100%, so what’s the point? UD will likely make the tournament without his help, I don’t see any reason to bring him back (unless there is some doubt over a medical redshirt that we don’t know about).
- This is a great thread on Pack Pride, an NC State message board. They are tracking the Flyers’ season for obvious reasons.
- Morgan Miller’s twitter rants have gone dormant since the Northwestern game. Archie got to her and we are all the worse for it.
- I think it’s okay to start looking at NCAA tournament projections. Seems like most “bracketologists” (guarantee these people pay for gas with cash) have Dayton on the 8/9 line. I would obviously like to see the Flyers either move up or drop down a little.
- I can’t stop Googling pictures of Melania Trump.
VCU is 15-5 on the season, currently 5-2 in the Atlantic Ten. As we’ve said countless times during recons, the Richmond Rams haven’t beaten anyone of substance yet this season. To put things in perspective, VCU’s best win likely came in a three-point victory over Middle Tennessee State at home. On the plus side, the majority of the Rams’ losses, outside of Fordham, aren’t glaring dumpster fires. Needless to say, VCU is comfortably in the tournament if they continue to rack up wins over the next six weeks.
Although Shaka Smart may be gone, his influence on the team’s style of play remains. While VCU doesn’t apply full-court pressure quite as often, the Rams still turn their opponents over at an elite level, 22.9% of their opponents possessions end in turnovers. As Mat from VCU Ram Nation explained on our podcast, Wade’s philosophy differs a bit from Smart once the press is broken. Whereas Smart’s squads routinely gave up easy buckets, Wade’s club makes a concerted effort to get back and D the fuck up. Accordingly, the average offensive possession against the Rams is around 17.8 seconds, one of the highest in the nation (303/351).
Offensively, VCU is an extremely disciplined team. They focus on what they do well and roll with that, the mark of a well-coached squad. The Rams don’t shoot the three-ball particularly well and as a result, they don’t shoot it that often. A mere 31.2% of their shots come from behind the arc, placing them near the bottom of the country in that category (289/351). VCU sports an impressive effective field-goal percentage of 53.4%, clearly the result of easy buckets off of turnovers. The Rams are an undersized team with a fairly deep bench; they ultimately want to beat you into submission with their pressure.
VCU features yet another three-guard lineup. JeQuan Lewis is the Rams’ primary ball handler, leading scorer (14.9 ppg) and top assist man (4.8 apg). Lewis is a serious threat from behind the arc (41% 3fg) and is knocking down 82% of his shots from the charity stripe. Tillman also has sticky fingers, snagging a steal on almost 5% of opponent’s possessions.
Joining Lewis in the Ram backcourt is Jonathan Williams and Jordan Burgess. Williams is a solid guard, coming into tonight’s game with a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio. He’s a decent scorer (8.8 ppg) albeit not a threat from the perimeter. Burgess, finally a senior, is an experienced player who is counted on for his defensive ability. He’s a solid rebounder for his size and a decent three-point shooter. His brother Brad was better.
Mo Alie-Cox’s Joe Camel looking ass is back for one last season. Alie-Cox remains one of the better forwards in the league; he’s a tremendous scorer around the basket and an elite shot-blocker. Although MAC (9.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) has never taken much interest in rebounding, he has greatly improved his stroke from the foul-line (79%). Justin Tillman pairs with Alie-Cox as the Rams starting frontcourt. Tillman is the team’s second-leading scorer (11.6 ppg) and leading rebounder (7.6 rpg), a scorer with limited range shooting 59% from the floor. A junior, I’d expect Tillman to be a double-double machine next season and one of the league’s best players.
Nobody in the Atlantic Ten gets more minutes out of its bench than VCU. Around 39% of the Rams’ playing time comes from their reserves. Doug Brooks and freshman Samir Doughty are Wade’s preferred options of the pine. Brooks (who I swear was a starter at one point?) runs around the court like a suicide bomber, snatching passes and picking pockets. Brooks is an inconsistent shooter with often questionable shot selection. Doughty, a redshirt-freshman, is having a solid debut. He’s a talented scorer who will become a well-known name in the league. Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed is a 6’9” forward is a decent low-post scorer and rebounder. He’s also the last guy you want to see board a plane.
Nate has been suspended with pay, he knows what he did.
Your Flyers are 2-3 against VCU since the Rams joined the Atlantic Ten, with UD winning the last time the two teams met in Richmond. Dayton has been on a roll lately and will be very confident going into tonight’s game.
However, the fact that UD doesn’t have any decent ball-handlers outside of Scooch and Crosby is a huge factor. This team has a history of performing poorly against teams that apply pressure (see the UMass game) and the Flyers don’t have too many people I’d trust against VCU’s traps and pressures. Dayton turned the ball over 19 times in their loss to the Minutemen and it’s likely they will turn it over just as much against the Rams. Dayton plays defense as well as anyone in the league and this will keep the contest close. In the end though, too many turnovers will result in a 69-65 win for the home team.