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VCU’s half court scoring issues becoming a concern?

Dec 5, 2013, 10:30 PM EDT

Melvin Johnson, Treveon Graham, Rob Brandenberg

In a thrilling game down in Richmond, Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams outlasted a tough Eastern Kentucky team in overtime, beating the Colonels 71-68.

Treveon Graham led four players in double-figures with 15 points and Rob Brandenburg knocked down four threes, including a huge three to kick off the overtime period. That would be the only points scored in the extra frame until the final minutes, as both teams traded stifling defensive possessions and forced charges.

EKU is a good team. They’ll battle it out with Belmont — another team that gave VCU fits — for the Ohio Valley Conference title. But if VCU is really going to be a top 25 team, if they really are the favorite to win what’s shaping up to be a strong Atlantic 10, they shouldn’t be getting pushed to overtime at home by Eastern Kentucky. By anyone, really.

All things considered, the Rams haven’t been all that impressive early on this season. They got blown out by Florida State. They were beaten by Georgetown. They struggled against Long Beach State and they were down 12 in the second half against Belmont.

So what’s up with VCU?

Well, they still aren’t great defensively in the half court, but that kind of comes with the territory when you press as much as VCU does. They gamble that they’ll be able to get more steals than you’ll get layups, and that in the process they’ll wear you down. In fact, they’ve gotten better on that end of the floor now that they are a better defensive rebounding team.

Where VCU is hurting a bit this season is offensively. They’re turning the ball over more this year. They aren’t getting to the offensive glass as often. Without Troy Daniels on the floor, they don’t have a knock-down three-point shooter on the roster. They’re more reliant on their defense forcing turnovers, allowing them to score in transition. Last year, 18.2% of VCU’s offensive possessions came in transition. This season it’s 23.2%. Last year, they scored 0.900 PPP in the half court, in the 85th percentile nationally. This year, they’re scoring 0.848 PPP, a pretty significant drop off.*

The thinking in the preseason was that VCU may struggle with the new foul calls affecting their defense, but in reality it hasn’t.

Excuse the coach-speak, but who on this VCU team is a ‘bucket-getter’?

It’s showing.

*(Stats via Synergy)

  1. majormids - Dec 6, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    I get what you are saying for the most part, but the weird thing is VCU’s average points per game this season matches their points per game last season at exactly 78 points, and the Rams have five guys averaging double-digits this season versus just four last season (with three other guys who have dropped double-figures this season already). They’ve got guys who can score, they’ve just been inconsistent. It certainly doesn’t help that their second leading scorer from last season, Juvonte Reddic, has seen a dip in production (points and fg% are down from his junior season) which certainly doesn’t help your team percentages. I think one thing people forget is this team returned just six players, meaning they’ve got eight new guys who are still figuring things out, learning packages, etc. Also, it might have been pretty, but VCU is still 7-2, which is a game better than they were at this point last season. They’ve looked rough at times, but outside of an ugly game against FSU (anyone remember Memphis’ ugly games at OK State…then went on to beat OK State shortly after?), they’re one loss is a 4-pointer to Georgetown. How wild is it that we’re at a place in college hoops where we’re wondering “what’s wrong with VCU?” because they have two losses to BCS programs? Anyway, point is for a team that isn’t coasting, they’ve still got a solid record and some nice wins (at Belmont, at UVA). Also, just for fun…VCU won at Belmont…who won at UNC…who wont at No.1 Michigan State. College basketball is amazing.

    • jytlm - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      Agreed that it’s early and they have time to figure things out, but they’ve looked pretty bad so far in the half court from what I’ve seen this year. They turn the ball over a lot, their 3-pt shooting is inconsistent, and they have trouble finishing at the rim, especially Weber who seems to be the best at penetrating the defense. If they don’t figure things out offensively, they’re going to have another early exit in the tournament.

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