It was quite a night for VCU women’s basketball as Coach Beth O’Boyle and her staff introduced a new style of play and Ram fans saw the glimmer of some rising stars in this year’s season opener against Wagner. It was everything O’Boyle had promised in her pre-season press conferences. The game was up tempo, the ladies delivered on “grab it and go”, and team chemistry came through in every play.
Last year the Rams averaged 75.8 PPG and their senior scorer, Robyn Parks, averaged 21.6 of those game points. Prior to the season there was a lot of speculation as to how that gap would be covered and O’Boyle’s position was that it would be a team effort. There were two players last year who contributed over 10 PPG each, but the very first surprise of this season came from the 2 leading scorers against the Seahawks. Sophomores Camille Calhoun (21 points) and Monnazjea Finney-Smith (18 points) averaged 2.9 and 5.4 PPG respectively last year. Calhoun scored 70 points last season, last night accounts for 30% of last year’s total.
In addition to being the leading scorer, Calhoun also racked up the most rebounds with 16 and added 3 assists on the night and she did it all in 25 minutes of play. We aren’t expecting this to be a regular occurrence (it’s only the first game after all). Let’s just say it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if we get to see it again or if any other Ram wants to join her.
One of the things this team is known for is phenomenal team chemistry and the ability to celebrate every individual’s success and achievements. There is something special about a group that can be each other’s biggest fans and has a good dynamic on and off the court. In order to play at the pace of the new style the team has to do some rotations to keep players fresh, especially with their intensive schedule over the next 2 weeks. This game was the dress rehearsal for what’s ahead and every Ram hit the floor and logged minutes against Wagner. Over the course of the game 10 out of 12 players posted points on the board, 4 of them hit a 3 pointer (Finney-Smith had 2), and 4 had steals. Sophomore Keira Robinson had the most steals at 4.
One thing that won’t show in the stats, but was one of our favorite moments of the night, happened as Robinson was dribbling the ball, fell to the floor continued the dribble, made it back to her feet and kept the possession. It could have been a turnover, but she just kept doing her thing and the Rams maintained control.
All in all it was a culmination of effort that led the Rams to their 84-75 victory over the Seahawks. Everyone played a role and the team dynamic is their biggest strength. They may still be adjusting to a few things and there’s a long season ahead, but we’re seeing signs that point to a strong year for these VCU Rams if they keep building on this foundation. Looking forward to some more surprises and memorable moments in the 2014-15 season!
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