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The Day After: Working Hard On Wishes

The Day After: Working Hard On Wishes

There’s joy and good cheer all around VCU Men’s Basketball at this time of year. After satisfying Ram fans wish on Saturday with a second half to remember against Wichita State, VCU sits at 8-4 overall and improving in key areas. One more game remains for the Black & Gold before Atlantic 10 conference play gets underway and there’s plenty to smile about for VCU.

Shocking The Shockers

Looking back at Wichita State vs. VCU, the Rams did the unthinkable and unplugged the Shockers. The contest was a tradeable affair between two talented teams in the first half. Once the second half started, VCU successfully sped up the pace against WSU which led to mistakes and turnovers for the visitors.

17 turnovers for the Shockers tying their season-high against Providence back in early November. HAVOC was in command during the holidays with a vicious half-court trap and perimeter defending (WSU: 6-of-26, 23%).

“Our energy on the defensive side of the ball was tremendous for most of the game…And our press really helped us, but then the second half, half-court defense was huge.”

–VCU Head Coach Mike Rhoades

In addition to defense, VCU went to work inside offensively then kicked out for three to the delight of head coach Mike Rhoades. For the first time this season the Rams got their bigs in Corey Douglas Marcus Santos-Silva working right after tip-off. This tactic brought more attention from Wichita State then VCU kick it to Evans, Jenkins, and Vann to become that offensive unit of Black & Gold dreams fans have been wishing for.

A Commanding Triple Threat

That trifecta of Marcus Evans, De’Riante Jenkins, and Issac Vann can lead VCU to a new level upon A-10 competition. Evans is the play creator on this team and can also create his own shot. Jenkins is the shooter and currently leads VCU from three with 26 on the season. Vann is the slasher that can get inside to cause extra damage near the basket.

Marcus Evans with his eye on the ball on a VCU steal.

One thing that stalled the process was turnovers. These three players combine for 76 of VCU’s 175 total turnovers with Evans alone coughing up 34 on the season; that’s 43%. Against Wichita State, each player only committed one turnover each.

Evans and Vann explained post-game that ball control was a major emphasis in preparation for the Shockers. VCU delivered with their third-lowest turnover count this season of 9. Controlling the rock and fueling these three offensively can set the Rams up for future success.

Bring In The Artillery! All Of Them!

It’s nice knowing that in the heat of battle there is an army awaiting orders upon entering the fray. VCU’s depth off the bench may not be consistent shooting wise but their presence can be felt upon entering the game.

Mike’l Simms is producing good minutes while attempting to get that 3 ball swag back up and running on the floor. After the Iona game where Simms scored 11 points, he has only scored 9 points in 4 games. Simms is making up for low point totals with his passing and rebounding that has assisted VCU greatly.

Sean Mobley has played 62 minutes since his return from injury

Another good sight to see is Sean Mobley battling strong through his injury. Mobley has been handicapped with a bone spur in his knee that knocked him out of action for 3 games this season. Over the last 4 contests, Mobley is gaining minutes and playing comfortably once again to give this Ram Army an extra solider.

And let’s not forget about Keshawn Curry and Vince Williams exploding on the scene plus the production of P.J. Byrd, Malik Crowfield, and Michael Gilmore. A 12-man rotation for Coach Rhoades to go to war with; who doesn’t like those odds?

Where’d The Three Go??

Three-pointers and VCU Men’s Basketball kind of go hand in hand historically. As of late, the script has flipped with the Rams rushing to the rim primarily for buckets. Upon a closer look, the three ball is under repairs with VCU shooting 25% or worse in their last 4 games.

Opponent 3 PT Attempts 3 PT Average
vs. Iona 11-30 37%
at Texas 6-25 24%
at #4 UVA 6-29 21%
vs. College of Charleston 6-27 22%
vs. Wichita State 5-25 20%

Sharing the ball has improved at the cost of VCU’s three-point shooting. Coach Rhoades repeatedly states that this team still has to shoot the ball better but he liked how VCU shared the ball against Wichita State. This double-edged sword of not shooting from downtown does lead to VCU gunning into the paint for better scoring opportunities.

So what are the Rams supposed to do? At the current moment take the win then enjoy some time off during the holidays and some R&R. When it’s time to check back into work, let the ball fly in practice.

Good Place To Be For The Holidays

With Rider awaiting after some holiday cheer, VCU is a good spot at 8-4 overall. There were some contests that VCU shoulda woulda coulda and unfortunately there is no restart button in college basketball. Statements have been made with the Rams surging as a legitimate threat come their A-10 opener at Fordham in January.

HAVOC is doing well at shrinking the court defensively while the VCU offense just needs to work on revamping from three alongside their paint presence. Add that to your Wish List and the Rams will hopefully make this come true in the new year.

More Than Just Basketball

On a personal note, I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays. While I enjoy college basketball and VCU in general, this game brought the reality that there is more to life outside of a basketball gym.

During the pre-game festivities, VCU played a video on the big screen about the Woods’ family and their baby Jacob. Jacob is currently battling a severe congenital heart defect. The Woods’ family drove from Richmond to Boston, Massachusetts in order to give their bundle of joy a fighting chance at life. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions for Swiss, Rachel, and baby Jacob and to them, I send my love not only as Ram fan…but as their friend.

WSU head coach Gregg Marshall shared a story after the game about a former teammate of his looking for his lost son. His name is Robert Ferguson “Bobby” Willoughby and they are still looking for this young man.

In closing, I send my Black & Gold love and joy to you all during a time of holiday bliss. May you find warmth inside of you and enjoy the Holidays. I’ll see you back in the Siegel Center as we wrap up 2018 against Rider. 🎄

Mark graduated from VCU in 2014 with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology. He started as a fan of the Black & Gold in the stands his freshman year. Mark was known as "Kazie" for his charismatic fandom with the VCU's student organization the Rowdy Rams. While at VCU he gained experience in sports media with WVCW on a sports radio show called Rowdy Radio. Following graduation, Mark continued crafting his social media skills with the Richmond Kickers while also handling VCU coverage. He is a true fan of the Rams and vocally passionate on and off camera. After the final whistle, you can probably find him at local RVA bar or brewery enjoying a drink and conversation.

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