Connect with us
Mo VCU v UMass Preview

Mens Basketball

Preview: VCU MBB V UMass

Preview: VCU MBB V UMass

Home Again

VCU survived their first two road tests of the A-10 schedule, now they get to reintroduce the intensity of conference play in the Siegel Center. UMASS is still looking for their first A-10 win after losses to St. Bonaventure and George Mason. The Minutemen are 10-5 with all three nonconference losses coming against teams well entrenched in the RPI top 100. Of course, I shouldn’t have to warn VCU about how dangerous this UMASS squad can be, you might remember the Rams losing in Massachusetts last year. They shot 10-17 from deep and VCU only made 5-20. It felt like a crippling loss at the time but the team pushed through it.

UMass Guards

It’s a popular opinion around the A-10 that UMASS coach Derek Kellogg leaves much to be desired as an X’s and O’s coach but his ability to recruit can’t be denied. UMASS lost key players, Trey Davis and Jabarie Hinds to graduation. Both of whom scored 18 points in the game against the Rams last season. They’ve been replaced with freshmen like Luwane Pipkins and Dejon Jarreau. The guards are both averaging around double digits for points and each distributes the ball well with over 3 assists per game. Their leading scorer is Donte Clark, a junior guard averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Clark led all scorers with 22 points in last year’s meeting between these two schools. The Rams may feel De’Riante Jenkins’ absence defensively in a matchup against a very talented backcourt. It won’t be easy stopping these guards.  

Battle of the Bigs

They have arguably the most talented big that VCU has faced in the young conference season; in 6’11 320 pound Rashaan Holloway. The sophomore is only playing 18 minutes a night but still averages over 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block. It will be interesting to see how Mo Alie-Cox and company handle such a large presence inside. After both Mo and Justin Tillman had monster performances against Duquesne, UMASS’ Holloway may be asked to keep those guys in check. If he can’t do it there aren’t many other options to stop VCU’s prolific frontcourt. With such large forces matched up together all game, foul issues could make a difference. Both teams need their best big men to stay on the court without collecting fouls.

Pre-Season Predictions

Thanks to a quality non-conference showing the Minutemen are hovering around the top 100 RPI. A-10 competition should give them enough losses to get them away from the top 100 by March. They were picked by most publications to finish in the bottom half in the league but with the acknowledgment that they are a talented group. Talented enough to grab a win or two against the best this conference has to offer. They were a 14 win team last season when they meet the Rams today they’ll already be looking to pick up win number 11.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Keep Shooting Threes

Their field goal percentage has improved from 43% last year to 44% despite their three-point shooting dropping from 33% to 30%. If you remove their shots from long range they make 55% of their attempts this season. Unfortunately, no one seems to have told the Minutemen they aren’t good shooters, they attempt over 26 threes per game. Their 401 attempts from distance rank comfortably inside the top 50 in the country and their 30% shooting from range is in the bottom 50 of Division 1 schools. Hopefully, for Will Wade’s crew, UMASS doesn’t catch fire like they did the last time they met.

Let’s Take Care of Business

It’s another dangerous conference opponent for VCU, one they won’t get much credit for beating come Selection Sunday. The Rams have to walk a tightrope while assembling the rest of their at-large resume for the NCAA tournament. They can afford a slip-up or two (see last season) however, we would all appreciate it if they could spare us the dramatics and take care of business in games like these.

More in Mens Basketball