VCU has lost their last three home games. They’ve played four games in the Siegel Center but haven’t achieved victory at home since the opener against Coppin State. Losing three straight home games is rare for any reasonably decent team; VCU easily meets the qualifications for a decent team. On Sunday they can get their first home win since November 11th.
New Leadership for the Spartans
UNC Greensboro brings a 5-4 record into the Siegel Center. The Spartans are led by Trina Patterson, in her first year at UNCG. Patterson should be familiar with VCU after spending her last three seasons as an assistant at ODU. During that time she went 1-2 against the Rams.
Patterson is taking command of a team that won 8 games last season, all of those wins came in the nonconference schedule. Meaning the Spartans first win of the 2016 calendar year was November 12th. UNCG operates in the Southern Conference, a one-bid league. This is an enormous rebuilding project for Coach Patterson and her first head coaching job since 2010 when she was at the helm of the University of Albany in the American East Conference.
VCU head coach Beth O’Boyle also has ties to the AE Conference. O’Boyle coached Stony Brook for three seasons. Patterson left Albany before O’Boyle was put in charge at Stony Brook so the two never met in their old conference.
Potential in the Paint
The Spartans feature a small lineup. They only have one player taller than 6’ who records minutes (6’2 Gina Penick). VCU has experienced major paint scoring issues this year. When the Rams are able to get to the hoop they struggle to finish. A small lineup like this should augment VCU’s ability to score inside. A lack of inside scoring has cost the Rams when their shots aren’t falling, a frequent occurrence this season.
Spartans to Watch
UNCG’s two leading scorers are freshmen Nadine Soliman and Te’ja Twitty. The young duo average 26 points per game between them, that accounts for nearly 40% of the team’s scoring. I would imagine Coach O’Boyle is confident in her senior guards’ ability to disrupt the two freshmen and force turnovers from them. So far Soliman and Twitty have done a quality job of protecting the ball. Soliman averages 2.8 turnovers per game and Twitty averages 1.5 per game. It’s unlikely they’ve been subjected to the type of pressure defense the Rams will show them on Sunday.
VCU is likely the best team on the Spartans schedule and that is really saying something because the Rams have been far from world-beaters during the first several weeks of the season. VCU has suffered from frequent 3 to 5 minute scoring droughts which can turn the tide of any game. They’re fresh off a defeat at ODU where they shot 37% from the field. After that 70-60 loss, the Rams are shooting under 40% from the field on the season. You can’t win consistently with those types of numbers.
When the 5-5 Rams return home on Sunday they should find an oasis of scoring waiting for them in the form of UNC Greensboro’s defense. The Spartans are surrendering nearly 70 points per game against Division 1 opponents this season. UNCG’s young guards should gift VCU with ample turnovers to take advantage off, combine that with a small defense and the Rams could find baskets much easier to come by than usual.