At 11 am on Friday VCU hosts the Coppin State Eagles out of the MEAC and VCU women’s basketball is ready for a breakout season. Head Coach Beth O’Boyle is in her third year with the program and she’s made huge strides since her first season. O’Boyle won eight more games and made the Rams a much bigger player in the A-10 last season. VCU also hosted a WNIT game, losing to UVA by only two points.
When O’Boyle took over in 2014 she had a young roster that forced freshmen and sophomores into starting roles. Now that inexperienced roster has become a senior laden one. The Rams return 4 players who averaged 20 plus minutes last season and another three players who averaged over 13 minutes last season. Beth O’Boyle wants her Rams to play fast and she has the roster to run opponents into the ground while still attacking with fresh players off the bench.
VCU opened last season with Coppin State. The Rams defeated the Eagles 73-42. VCU’s Ashley Pegram led all scorers with 13 points and the senior guard figures to be a major piece for her team. The Eagles were a .500 team with 10-6 record in conference last year.
The Eagles shouldn’t be taken lightly; they return their top three scorers. They also return four players who averaged over 25 minutes per game. Coppin State will be subject to being worn down by VCU’s pace. The Eagles used six players who recorded 22 or more minutes last season and only one other player getting to play more than 10 minutes per game. O’Boyle loves to play fast and Coppin State doesn’t seem to have the depth to avoid exhaustion from the Ram’s style of play. To have a chance the Eagles must find a way to control the pace of the game.
VCU struggled to make threes last year but had no issues getting those shots up, averaging over 12 shots per game but making less than 4. Senior Isis Thorpe led the team in both threes made and attempted. Thorpe shot 30% from beyond the arc last season but as a sophomore she hit 40% from 3. The Rams would love to see Thorpe come out with a hot shooting effort to set the tone for her season. Even if Thorpe isn’t draining threes she is capable of filling up the scoring column.
A coach’s third season at a program brings lofty expectations. O’Boyle’s had time to bring in recruits and the upper classmen know exactly what their coach expects from them. It’s difficult to expect much improvement from a 23 win season but if the Rams can increase that win total they will enjoy a special year. All the promise starts on Friday when VCU should have little trouble taking down Coppin State.