A day after VCU Men’s Basketball kept the streak alive over Saint Louis for their 9th consecutive Atlantic 10 victory, the Rams basically did what was expected. Sort Of. The Rams came and exited the Siegel Center with the win and now prepare for road trips that could turn into silverware depending on the results.
Your Typical Top Team vs. Bottom Team Game
Let’s be honest here: There was nothing special about VCU vs. Saint Louis going into tip-off; both teams on opposite sides of the Atlantic 10 standings with VCU battling in the Top 4 while SLU was among the Bottom 4. Truth be told that anything can happen once the ball is tipped however in this case the results wasn’t surprising with VCU winning 64-50.
Credit is due for the Billikens. For 8 minutes, Saint Louis was the dominant team with a high shooting percentage and keeping VCU locked out of the paint. This young group of Billikens kept pace with a veteran-filled Ram squad which may have raised a few eyebrows and even had Coach Wade lose his cool a few times.
VCU was able to hit the reset button and play their game which leads to the inevitable. The Rams unlocked the paint as Jonathan Williams ran through like a running back out of the backfield to score 17 points. Justin Tillman got his usual double-double and Samir Doughty once again scored in double-figures.
In the end, VCU did what VCU does rather well once they settled into the game. The Rams rattled the Billikens near the basket and dominated the glass. Downtown was stuck in traffic with limited 3 Ball opportunities for VCU yet HAVOC had a field day causing 16 SLU turnovers and 9 VCU steals.
Nothing eye-opening; just VCU handling some business in the Animal on Hump Day.
No JLew? No Problem.
One thing that was taken into consideration was how VCU was operating without their point general JeQuan Lewis on the floor. Coach Wade stated post-game that he was looking to rest some of his guys a little bit if given the opportunity versus Saint Louis. Lewis played for 21 minutes which is 9 minutes less than his average timecard per game this season.
Lewis was able to have an easy shift while getting other Rams involved in the action. Williams made the most of his opportunity while giving his senior teammate a break leading the VCU offense at the point. Along with his majestic beard, Glaze put on a show for the Ram fans in attendance when he once again displayed his bag of highlight reel finishes at the basket.
Fans were also happy to see their beloved Fro bounce back. Justin Tillman did work at the Robins Center but was caught up in foul trouble and finished with only 8 points vs. Richmond. Saint Louis felt the Fro’s wrath as Tillman got back to doing what he does best and collected 14 points and 10 rebounds.
There were glimpses of greatness coming from multiple Rams. There was Doug Brooks bringing out an experience with a steal & layup flush. You had Ahmed Hamdy channeling his inner Briante Weber with a steal, sprint from half-court and one hand jam that we may have seen once upon a time ago.
Doughty being the basket slasher that he is, Mo saying No twice while controlling the rebound game; even Torey Burston and Marquell Fraser got some playing time. All of this went down without a 100% tuned in JeQuan Lewis at VCU’s disposal which is good to see.
JeQuan Lewis is a difference maker between a win and a defeat. Last night showed that VCU is deeper in rotation at this point of the season. Coach Wade said that one advantage VCU has over other teams is that the Rams have 8-10 guys on his roster that can score in double-figures on any night.
As a team, VCU is completing tasks together instead of relying on one Ram. It’s not just handing JeQuan the ball and see what he can come up with in this scenario; fantastic for the Rams and possibly more threatening for the opposition.
4 Teams, 3 Games, One Title
After VCU improved to 13-2 in the Atlantic 10 and stayed on course with Dayton for first place, let us celebrate in a sense. With that win over Saint Louis, VCU solidified a Top 4 seed in the A-10 tournament regardless of what happens next.
Hip Hip Hooray! Back To Business.
|VCU (13-2)||Dayton (13-2)||Rhode Island (10-5)||Richmond (10-5)|
|Games Remaining: 3||Games Remaining: 3||Games Remaining: 3||Games Remaining: 3|
|AT Rhode Island||AT Davidson||VS VCU||AT Fordham|
|AT Dayton||VS VCU||AT Saint Joseph’s||AT UMass|
|VS George Mason||AT George Washington||VS Davidson||VS Saint Louis|
Looking at this table of the Top 4 currently in the A-10, VCU is in the driver’s seat on one hellacious road to a possible Atlantic 10 Regular Season Championship. Not only with two games against Rhody and Dayton, VCU has to go on the road to claim the victory. Twice.
Fortunately for the Rams, the Spiders are not an issue for them with 2 wins over Richmond in the Capital City Classic this season. VCU prepares for a Rhode Island team that aims to silence their critics while winning a big game. And if VCU handles business at Rhody then the Rams and Flyers will battle for the title once again at UD Arena.
There is no room for error as the season slowly concludes. VCU did successfully get to their target number of conference wins and are on pace to finish in the pole position heading into the A-10 Tournament up in Pittsburgh. However, the way you finish is important, especially when facing two of the top A-10 teams consecutively.
Nothing worse than a crash & burn on the final turn towards the checkered flag. Coach Wade made it clear that the way that VCU started the game versus Saint Louis will not get it done at Rhode Island. Complete 40-minute games are what’s on the menu for the Rams and are expected from Coach Wade.
Rhode Island is backed up against the wall. The Rams up yonder basically need to win the postseason tournament to solidify a spot in March Madness. Without a signature win and a few bad losses, Rhode Island is looking to put something good on their March resume; what better way than with a victory over the Black & Gold in a high-stakes conference game.
Dayton has a tough task heading to Davidson then preparing for the Rams at home. The Flyers have already lost to the Rams at the Siegel Center back in January. With the A-10 Regular Season Championship probably up for grabs, the last thing the Flyers want to happen is seeing VCU claim it at UD Arena.
This is going to be some road trip.
Seal The Deal
Everything is there for VCU to gain and everything is there for the Rams to lose. The Black & Gold have worked tremendously with 2 impressive winning streaks and all to get to this point. VCU has been able to come together as a team to produce quality conference wins while improving their craft.
Out of 15 Atlantic 10 conference games, VCU has won 13 of them. The throne is painted Black & Gold but there are 3 games that remain until VCU can rightfully call themselves King of the Atlantic 10.
Coach Wade and company will have an eye on what the Atlantic 10 competition is up to but at the end of the day, VCU has the final call. The Rams do what they have to do, everyone else keeps working on trying to derail the Black & Gold’s success.
This is one tough task but this team is Ram Tough. Three more games between VCU and an Atlantic 10 Regular Season Championship.
We await the results from Broad Street. Go out there Rams and Seal It.
Ram Reminder: VCU Men’s Basketball starts a two-game road trip in A-10 Play starting on Saturday, February 25th. It’s a Battle of the Rams at Rhode Island with a 2 PM tip-off on ESPN 2.