VCU 2010 CBI Tournament Preview
VCU Rams - Colonial Athletic Association (22-9, 11-7)
Big Wins: 12/2 Rhode Island (82-80), 12/12 Richmond (65-57), 2/6 ODU (70-58)
Bad Losses: 11/18 at Western Michigan (67-83), 2/9 at George Mason (77-82), 2/13 at James Madison (71-76)
Coach: Shaka Smart
Probable VCU Starters:
Joey Rodriguez, Junior, Guard, 12.2 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.0 spg
Ed Nixon, Junior, Guard, 8.4 ppg, 1.7 apg
Bradford Burgess, Sophomore, Guard, 10.5 ppg, 1.2 apg, 5.1 rpg
Jamie Skeen, Junior, Forward, 7.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Larry Sanders, Junior, Forward, 14.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.5 bpg
Key VCU Roleplayers:
T.J. Gwynn, Senior, Forward, 5.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Kirill Pishchalnikov, Senior, Forward, 2.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Brandon Rozzell, Junior, Guard, 8.3 ppg, 1.2 apg
Darius Theus, Freshman, Guard, 2.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg
Why The Rams Can Surprise:
VCU has gone through a lot of changes in the last year. Coach Anthony Grant left for Alabama and Florida assistant Shaka Smart took over the head job. On the floor the absence of Eric Maynor will be felt for quite some time. However, the Rams have developed into a solid program in the Colonial Athletic Association and they will continue to be successful no matter who leaves the school.
This year the stars are forward Larry Sanders and junior guard Joey Rodriguez. Sanders, a 6-11 junior, is a beast in the paint and easily leads the team with 9.0 rebounds per contest. Sanders is also a superb athlete who can score in a variety of ways. He does his best work under the basket, but Sanders has the ability to hit the mid-range jumper and, occasionally, even the three-pointer. Rodriguez is the player who makes this team tick. Replacing Maynor would be difficult for anybody, but Rodriguez has done a superb job and averages 12.2 points and 5.8 assists. Rodriguez also takes great care of the ball and is a superb defender.
Why The Rams Can Disappoint:
Sanders is a great rebounder, but the rest of the frontcourt lacks the size or strength to be effective on the glass. Jamie Skeen is the closest thing the frontcourt has to a secondary scorer and rebounder and he averages just 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds. T.J. Gwynn is a quality slasher, but he is a very undersized forward at 6-4. Kirill Pishchalnikov is an intriguing option. He has not played too many minutes, but he can be a good scorer, like when he put up 14 points and grabbed five rebounds against Old Dominion. If Pishchalnikov can be an effective interior scorer to compliment Sanders, it would really open up the Rams offense.
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Who To Watch for VCU:
Sanders will score and Rodriguez will score and finding a third scoring threat could be the difference between a nice little tournament run and an early exit. Bradford Burgess has been the most consistent wing player after averaging 10.5 points on the season. Brandon Rozzell and Ed Nixon are the other options. All three of the wings are good shooters and connect on at least 38 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. But that can be troublesome since that is about all they do. If their shot is not falling, the VCU offense can become a two man show and that makes it easy for the opposition to defend.
VCU By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.4 (47th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.7 (106, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (64, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.8 (153, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (90, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.2 (84, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.3 (93, 3)
Rebound Margin: 2.7 (92, 3)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (50, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (58, 4)