Game Preview: Virginia Commonwealth University


What To Expect:

-The numbers between the 2 schools are fairly close. URI shoots 40% from the field; VCU shoots 45%. URI hits 66% of FT’s; so does VCU. URI is shooting 33% from 3-point range; VCU shoots 34%. Both steal the ball 6 times per game and turn it over 12 times per game. The numbers really are very close with the exception of two important stats…

-URI shoots approximately 72 shots per game compared to VCU’s 87. This discrepancy is most likely a result of VCU’s “Havoc” defense causing turnovers giving them extra possessions. This is why VCU scores 78 points per game (URI scores 62).

-The other key stat that VCU holds an advantage: rebounds. More specifically, offensive rebounds. VCU out rebounds URI by 4 per game but VCU averages 15 offensive rebounds per game. Time to break down the numbers here:
VCU misses 50 shots per game (after second chance points) but they grab 15 offensive rebounds per game. Let’s just conservatively assume that half of their offensive rebounds result in a lay-up. That is assuming VCU actually misses 57 shots per game. If VCU misses 57 shots, gets 15 offensive rebounds, that leaves 42 misses up for grabs. URI grabs 23 defensive rebounds per game; this leaves a net “missed shot” tally at 19 shots. Given URI’s size issues and resulting rebounding woes, this could lead to even more second-chance points for VCU.

-In the end, expect to see two very good defenses tire each other out which will bring the benches into play. I think we can expect to see VCU run a similar offense to URI with a lot of 3-point shots to spread the defense out away from the paint which will open up slashes and drives to the basket. While similar to URI’s offense, VCU will be more efficient and will show how to execute that style of play much more effectively.

-URI will keep it close for a while but VCU will probably pull away in the second half and win this game by double-digits.

Defensive Strategies Against Key Players:

-Treveon Graham (#21): 6’5” G. He is VCU’s “Xavier Munford.” He is incredibly hard to defend. He shoots 48% from the field (37% from 3). He also, like most guards, hits a high percentage of FT’s (72%). The best way to defend him (who will be guarded by Munford – who usually guards the opponent’s best guard) is to stay in front of him and force him to shoot 3’s. He is not comfortable shooting 3’s (regardless of the higher percentage). He only shoots about 4 3’s per game (and 12 shots from inside the arc – and given the high shooting percentage, most of those are slashing to the basket). Keeping him from slashing takes him out of his comfort zone and would mean him missing more shots; plus it keeps him off the FT line.

-Juvonte Reddic (#15): 6’9” F. The guy puts up 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. A true low-post player shoots 58% from the field (17% from 3). It would be easy to say that URI should force him to just shoot 3’s based on his percentage but he has only taken 6 3’s in 21 games; just a non-factor. What URI needs to do is foul him. Foul him often. He shoots 67% from the line. That would mean it would take him 3 FT’s to score as many points as a single lay-up/dunk when he isn’t fouled. It is amazing with his size, and results, he has only taken 77 free throws meanwhile he has taken 219 shots.

-Troy Daniels (#30): 6’4” G. This guy is VCU’s 3-point specialist. He is shooting 41% from beyond the arc and has taken twice as many 3’s as the next highest total on the team. Whoever guards him will need to stick to him all game. VCU will definitely use a lot of screens to switch the URI defender to a URI big man who is slower than Daniels. When this happens, URI will just have to make sure that the big man forces Daniels far behind the line to allow the old defender to switch back on him. URI can’t take him out of the game but can only hope to contain him. Focusing on Graham and Reddic will mean that Daniels will see a decent amount of open shots.

Offensive Strategies:

-Utilize quick and precise passing to overcome this “havoc” defense. URI will most likely have watched game tape from Richmond and St. Joseph’s. Both of those schools put up a lot of points against this defense.

-VCU does have some size in the front court but they use a lot of guards but even this is misleading (will discuss in a minute). VCU has 6 players who average 20 minutes per game. Out of those 6, 5 of them are guards. This is not surprising given how many 3’s they take and how the major factor in the havoc defense is speed. They need to be able to run quickly between ball carriers in order for their swarming defense to be effective. Don’t let this heavy guard play mislead you. Their guards are all big guards. Their guards are mostly between 6’3” and 6’5”. That is bigger than URI’s 3 guards – Buchanan, Munford, and Powell.

-URI’s guards will need to be quick and decisive and try to move the ball around to get the open shot. With the defense that VCU plays, there will always be someone open. It just lies on the players to find them as they get engulfed by VCU defenders. Once the open man is found, he needs to set and shoot the ball very quickly before the defenders can get to him.

Final Thoughts:

-VCU is coming off of back-to-back losses (same as URI). VCU will be angry, and Shaka Smart will have this team ready to play.

-I don’t like URI’s chances against a highly motivated VCU team with more talent and experience. I think VCU wins by at least 10.


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