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Marlene Stollings

WBB Staff

Stollings Returns to VCU: Rams v Gophers Preview

Stollings Returns to VCU: Rams v Gophers Preview

On Tuesday VCU will welcome former Head Coach, Marlene Stollings (Photo Credit:  Richmond Times-Dispatch), back to the Siegel Center. Stollings led the Rams for two seasons from 2012-2014. Her second year with VCU ended with a 22-10 record and WNIT birth. She was then hired by Minnesota, out of the Big Ten. Stollings cultivated immediate success with the Golden Gophers. Her first season saw 23 wins and an NCAA tournament appearance. She followed that success with a 20 win season and winning a game in the WNIT.

Stollings Style

New Rams’ fans may not recognize Marlene Stollings but they will recognize her up-tempo style of play. VCU Coach Beth O’Boyle likes to run on offense; however, her emphasis on strong defense leads the Rams into less prolific offensive performances. Both coaches are beginning their third season at their respective schools. Stollings’ Minnesota team averaged 83 points per game last season while surrendering 80 points. O’Boyle’s Rams scored 64 points per game and surrendered only 55 points last year. As those numbers suggest VCU suppressed opponents to shooting just 37% from the field, Minnesota allowed teams to shoot 42% from the field.


Stollings’ Gophers managed to score more than O’Boyle’s Rams, in the 2015-16 season, by making more threes (292 to 111) and more free throws (412 to 397).  The Gophers not only grossed more threes and free throws last season, they also were significantly more efficient. The Gophers shot 35% from behind the arc to the Rams 28%. From the line Minnesota outshot VCU, 76% to 66%.


O’Boyle’s advantages stand with her defense. VCU’s opponents turned the ball over 125 more times last season than the Gophers. All of those extra turnovers led to easy fast-break chances for the Rams. VCU also out rebounded teams with a +6.7 margin compared to Minnesota’s margin of +0.8. This is a philosophical difference between the two coaches that goes beyond last season. Both of Stollings’ VCU teams got out rebounded. In O’Boyle’s first two seasons on Broad Street the Rams owned a plus rebounding margin. The most compelling stat for this match-up lies specifically with the offensive rebounding numbers; those rebounds allow a less efficient shooting team to use sheer volume to outscore their opponents. Of course more offensive rebounds mean your team is missing shots, which VCU does more than Minnesota. The offensive rebounding statistic can be misleading.

2016-17 Openers

Both team won their first game of the season. VCU shut down Coppin State 73-44. Minnesota slashed through Harvard 103-87. You can see what each coach emphasizes in their teams debuts. Minnesota was slightly outrebounded but shot nearly 50% from the field. The Rams crushed Coppin State on the glass while shooting only 42% from the field; VCU did capitalize on second chance points (18) and points off turnovers (20). Both opponents were overmatched so it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions. Harvard will probably end up being a slightly better team than Coppin State but the difference should be negligible, those numbers should be accurate indicators for how the teams want to play.

The Gophers lost three significant players from last season’s team. Most notably point guard Rachel Banham, who was drafted fourth overall in WNBA. Banham averaged 30 points per game, shooting 48% from the field and a staggering 44% from three. Seniors on VCU’s roster may be glad to see their former coach, Marlene Stollings but they are thrilled she won’t get to bring Banham along for the trip.

Home Court Advantage

VCU basketball is familiar with welcoming back head coaches on the men’s side.  Jeff Capel returned with Oklahoma, Anthony Grant with Alabama and Ram fans are patiently waiting to see if Shaka Smart will bring Texas to the Siegel Center.  Capel and Grant both lost when appeared as the opposition.  It will be a major indicator of how improved the Rams are if they can send Stollings back to Minnesota with a loss, especially taking on a Big Ten opponent. We know how both teams want to play, but with only a single game to draw from this early in the season, it’s difficult to predict what will happen when Stollings’ productive offense meets O’Boyle’s shutdown defense.

If VCU is going to send another former coach home with a loss they need find quality shots and make them at a higher rate than is typical during O’Boyle’s tenure. The Rams’ defense should be able to hold the Gophers short of 80 points and they need to because VCU didn’t score 80 or more points once during regulation last season.  Minnesota’s defense and overall play style may be the catalyst that allows the Rams to hit a high mark in scoring. The Gophers will be one of several non conference challenges for VCU this season as the Rams look to boost their RPI this year.  This game will be an excellent early season litmus test as well as one with a fun backstory to it.

Derek graduated from VCU in 2015 with a degree in broadcast journalism. As the Sports Director for VCU’s student run radio station, WVCW, he garnered a handful of nominations for the Intercollegiate Broadcasting Systems Awards and received an award with fellow contributor Darnell Myrick for their Men’s Basketball Play-by-Play. He’s worked as a producer for multiple radio stations in Richmond and served as the In-Game Host for the Washington Nationals. Derek strives to bring a thoughtful and measured approach to his coverage of VCU sports, while still holding on to his zealous enthusiasm for his alma mater.

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