Oct 9, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
Last Season: 27-9, 12-4 Atlantic 10 (2nd); Lost to Michigan in the Round of 32
Head Coach: Shaka Smart (5th season at VCU: 111-36 overall, 50-20 CAA/A-10)
Key Losses: Darius Theus, Troy Daniels, Teddy Okereafor, Justin Tuoyo, D.J. Haley
Newcomers: Jordan Burgess, Mo Alie-Cox, Terrance Shannon, Jequan Lewis, Jairus Lyles, Antravious Simmons, Douglas Brooks
- G: Briante Weber, Jr.
- G: Rob Brandenburg, Sr.
- F: Treveon Graham, Jr.
- F: Terrance Shannon, Sr.
- C: Juvonte Reddic, Sr.
- Bench: Melvin Johnson, So.; Jordan Burgess, Fr.; Jairus Lyles, Fr.; JeQuan Lewis, Fr.; Mo Alie-Cox, Fr.; Jarrod Guest, Jr.; Antravious Simmons, Fr.; Doug Brooks, Fr.
They’ll be good because …: By now, we all know about Havoc, the all-out, full-court press that Shaka Smart’s teams constantly utilize. It’s what they’re known for, it’s what the program takes pride in, and it’s the game that gives opposing point guards nightmares. That press is devastating, especially when you consider just how well-conditioned these athletes are. They never get tired. It’s demoralizing.
But what makes the Rams especially dangerous this season is that their depth is just ridiculous. Sophomore Melvin Johnson and redshirt freshman Jordan Burgess, the younger brother of former VCU star Brad Burgess, are both former top 100 recruits. And they will both come off the bench this year. Jairus Lyles and JeQuan Lewis could have gone to schools in power conferences. Jarrod Guest, when he gets healthy, will be able to provide minutes up front to spell Juvonte Reddic and Florida State transfer Terrance Shannon. The waves of that press just aren’t going to stop this year.
But they might disappoint because …: I have a couple concerns about VCU replacing players they lost from last season. Darius Theus was more valuable to the Rams than he got credit for, as a point guard and as a leader. He’ll be tough to replace; Briante Weber, Rob Brandenburg and Johnson are quite talented, but they aren’t “true” point guards. It will also be interesting to see where VCU replaces Troy Daniels’ perimeter shooting. He made 124 threes last season. As a team, VCU his 278. That’s a big loss.
But the biggest concern I have with VCU is that they struggle against teams that can beat their press. VCU’s defense last season was 31st in the country in efficiency, leading the nation with a ridiculous 28.5% turnover percentage. Many of those turnovers led to layups, dunks and wide-open threes. It’s how the system works. But if they don’t get that turnover? They were 294th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, 226th in defensive effective field goal percentage and 272 in free throw rate. That’s why teams with talented and/or veteran guards — a la St. Louis — can given the Rams trouble.
Outlook: I love the makeup of this roster for VCU. Juvonte Reddic is a beast in the paint, and with Terrance Shannon on the roster, he’ll have some help in the paint this season. Weber, Brandenburg and the rest of VCU’s hellishly-quick back court will force plenty of turnovers, and Treveon Graham is back for what should be a big junior season.
The difference maker on this team? Jordan Burgess. Like Graham, he’s a big, strong three that can get a three just as well as he can grab a rebound. His presence on the roster is what will give Smart so much more lineup flexibility. Smart can go with a small lineup, using Graham and Burgess together at the forwards spots, and not have to worry about playing a team with three guards on the floor. That will allow Shannon to spell Reddic at the five spot more often.
The point guard issues are a bit disconcerting, especially when you consider that VCU was not a greay team at executing in the half court last year. But that defense? That will make them the odds-on favorite to win the Atlantic 10 this season.
Jul 21, 2014, 11:43 PM EDT
DePaul redshirt freshman forward DeJuan Marrero will play his sophomore season at Chipola.
Malik Newman, Ivan Rabb, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk among 33 members battling for USA U17 roster spots this week
Jul 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
The USA U17 tryouts have a lot of big names and it will also be important for the last week of the July live evaluation period.
Jul 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
Isaiah Briscoe helped lead the New Jersey Playaz to a title at Peach Jam.
Jul 21, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
Bruce Brown was a promising two-sport athlete, but gave up football to focus on basketball.
Jul 21, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
Walker is the second commitment for the Cardinal this spring.
Jul 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Seven additional thoughts on Nike’s Peach Jam, including Ben Simmons’ one weakness, Malik Monk and how college coaches look at parents
Jul 21, 2014, 3:46 PM EDT
The whole situation regarding Jacksons recruitment is weird.
Jul 21, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT
Tatum is the best player in the class.
Jul 21, 2014, 1:54 PM EDT
Seven thoughts from my time in Augusta
Jul 21, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT
The Hoosiers will be in shape come September, that’s for sure.
Jul 21, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
The latest in our series of anonymous quotes from coaches on the players they recruit.
Jul 21, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
Simmons is a much better passer than you’ll see in this video.
Jul 20, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
After playing sparingly last season, Lucas is hoping to take a significant step forward in 2014-15.
Jul 20, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT
Fans may look to compare Gary Payton II to his father, something both hope to avoid this season, but his role as point guard is an important one.
Jul 20, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT
Djambo’s playing time was unlikely to increase had he remained at Clemson, where he played 9.2 minutes per game last season.
Jul 20, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT
McQuaid’s de-commitment leaves SMU with one verbal pledge in its 2015 recruiting class.
Jul 20, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT
Apparently there were some questions at the Peach Jam regarding the possibility of Simmons returning to Australia in 2015 to play professionally instead of attending LSU.
Jul 20, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Brown won Pac-12 Most Improved Player honors last season, helping lead the Cardinal to the Sweet 16.
Jul 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
The 6-foot-4 Walker played just one season at Stony Brook.
Jul 20, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT
It’s the second commit for Rick Pitino this week.
- Four-star Class of 2016 guard Bruce Brown gave up football to focus on basketball 0
- Seven (more) Takeaways from Nike’s Peach Jam 0
- Seven Takeaways from Nike’s Peach Jam 1
- CBT Quotables Part IV: The Lawsons, Stephen Zimmerman, Malik Monk 1
- Peach Jam Saturday Recap: Rabb, Zimmerman go big, Chris Clarke goes hard, Lawson bros advance 0
- Nike Peach Jam Saturday Recap: Jayson Tatum, DeAndre Ayton and Briscoe vs. Trier 0
- Peach Jam Recruiting Notebook: Jamal Murray plays well, Tyler Davis has big day, Juwan Morgan likes two 0
- Skipping college makes Emmanuel Mudiay the most important player in 2014 class (5)
- Study says Louisville has the best fanbase for second straight season (4)
- Chris Walker looks like he’s spent some time in the gym (PHOTO) (4)
- Indiana’s summer workouts look intense (VIDEO) (4)
- Mother of elite recruit Josh Jackson: ‘Josh hasn’t been recruited by anyone’ (4)