VCU Men’s Basketball didn’t disappoint in their 90-53 rout over Virginia State in Saturday night’s exhibition at the Siegel Center. A day after Ram fans got a live-action preview of what’s to come, there’s plenty to be excited about the upcoming 2019-20 season. One thing is for certain: VCU is building for future success while operating in WIN NOW mode.
HAVOC at the Rim!
Virginia State was in for a rough evening after watching their one-point lead quickly diminish in 48 seconds. From there the Rams held the lead for 39 minutes and 7 seconds until the final buzzer. While the Trojans lost all 5 starters from last season and Coach Blow brought in 10 freshmen, VSU gave the Rams a decent test in the beginning stages of the contest.
That was until VCU established Corey Douglas in the paint. Once the big man stepped in, the Trojans could not rattle him. He was later joined by Marcus Santos-Silva to form the unstoppable force that collected 15 of VCU’s 47 rebounds. Accompanied by a 32-22 paint scoring advantage for the Black & Gold with consistent attacks near the basket.
Speaking of VCU’s paint presence, appreciation is needed for the guards getting as physical as the forwards. Watching Marcus Evans, Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, Mike’l Simms and other guards step into the paint warzone was a big deal. Team rebounding is something that Coach Rhoades emphasized this season and this was the right step towards accomplishing that.
Plenty In The Black & Gold Reserves
Last season KeShawn Curry wowed a lot of the Ram faithful with his explosive play off the VCU bench. There was a bit of a social media uproar wanting more Curry but blinded that Curry was still a work in progress. Coach Rhoades shared that Curry “had an awesome off-season” and was working closely with Evans and Vann while also hitting the weight room.
Curry’s work paid off with 16 minutes of gameplay resulting in 14 points and shooting 3-for-3 from downtown off the VCU bench. Curry challenged himself to just keep working on his game until his number was called. His number was finally called and he delivered. Keep an eye on number #11 this season.
You know there’s something special about a VCU freshman playing early as backup Point Guard. Hyland has plenty of raw basketball talent that Coach Rhoades and company are molding to become even better programmed. Bones is an exciting young prospect learning and dueling with Evans constantly in practice.
The fact that he stepped in as the Point Guard to relieve Evans at the point and VCU didn’t lose a step is great to see. Outside of limiting turnovers and not being frustrated after a missed shot, Bones has a very high ceiling and can lead this VCU squad to victory.
Vince Williams was battling a leg injury and was able to take his brace off 6 days prior to the exhibition. Coach Rhoades wanted to see how Williams battled fatigue post-injury and he appeared unphased with 22 minutes of hard sprints down the hardwood.
He still has that rambunctious energy as a guard/forward that can be an absolute pain for opponents to deal with. Once he’s near 100%, Vince is going to be a weapon that Coach Rhoades uses often from the reserves.
The Floor is Burning!
Ahh the Floor Burn Tradition is alive and well! Siegel Center was I would estimate about 75-80% on the energy scale but MAAANNN did the fans bring the noise on hustle plays. Rhoades introduced this tradition to the Ram faithful at the Black & Gold game and is very passionate about making this stick. Looks to be sticking in the early stages as a welcome addition to an already vocal fanbase.
Most of the fouls that VCU committed against Virginia State were downright silly. From mistimed blocks to reaching in where you shouldn’t have, the foul count was constantly rising upward in the 2nd half. Is this a call for concern? Not at this time.
One thing that HAVOC is known for is constantly pressuring the ball which may lead to a couple whistles. A couple of defensive drills are in the works for HAVOC in preparation for the home opener versus Saint Francis (PA).
THIS was the biggest takeaway from Coach Rhoades’ post-game conference. VCU and brotherhood have always gone hand in hand over the years. This season it’s not just one leader in Marcus Evans. Listening to guys like Jenkins, Simms, and Vann constantly helping their backups with constructive criticism during the game was eye-opening. Watching Santos-Silva and Douglas give Hason Ward some post-game position tips on the sideline shows how close this team is.
Not only are the upper-classmen doing this, but the freshmen are also actually listening. Coach Rhoades at one point just stood in the huddle and watch as Evans took charge giving instructions. That is how you build a successful program with players that are just as passionate as the coaches wanting to win. The seniors are very excited for the VCU freshmen on what they can do this season on the floor.
Almost Hunting Time (Officially)
VCU still has that Hunt mentality even with all the pre-season praise and recognition the Rams have received. A #1 Atlantic 10 Pre-season ranking along with Evans, Jenkins, and Santos-Silva getting on conference teams. Ranked #25 in the AP Poll to begin the 2019-20 season. Yet VCU is still of the mindset that this team was picked #7 from last season. While they are appreciative, the Rams are still hungry. And the Hunt is just about to begin. This is going to be fun.
The 2019-20 season officially begins on Tuesday, November 5th versus Saint Francis (PA) in the home opener at the Siegel Center. Tip-off is set for a 7 PM start on MASN.