Black and Gold or Brown
VCU returns home on Thursday for the first time since December 11th. The Rams will be trying to even their record at 7-7 before conference play starts. In their final non-conference performance, they will welcome the Brown University Bears to the Siegel Center. Brown carries a 7-3 record and five-game win streak to Richmond. The Bears still have three more non-conference games before they start conference play in the Ivy League on January 13th.
A Fine Line Between Offense & Defense
VCU has lost their last two games against Wake Forest and Ole Miss. In both contests the Rams failed to break 60 points. They are 0-3 this season when scoring fewer than 60 and 5-2 when scoring 65 or more. Brown gives up an average of 67 points per game; if the Rams can hold the bears accountable to their season average they will have a solid chance of beating their Ivy League opponent. VCU’s offense averages 64.7 points while their defense gives up 64.4. Those numbers illustrate the Rams’ issues this season; they can’t create any separation from their opponents and are giving themselves little margin for error.
Danger from Beyond the Arc
The Bears’ field goal percentage isn’t great; they make 41% of their shots from the floor. Brown is dangerous from three point range, making 37% as a team. Brown on average makes seven three pointers a night. The Rams hit fewer than 30% of those shots and on a per game basis only score 3. VCU’s three point defense is solid, allowing teams to shoot only 31% however, because their three point offense is so anemic, opponents can have a subpar shooting night and still create separation.
Brown has a surprisingly young lineup, with no seniors and only one junior. They are led by three sophomores who all average 12 or more points. Their leading scorer is Taylor Will, a 5’11 guard; she averages 16 points per contest. Shayna Mehta and Erika Steeves are the other top scorers, with Mehta getting 15 and Steeves with 12. Those three have started every contest and play over 30 minutes. Mehta is the most prolific shooter of the group, making 41% from deep and averaging 2 per night. She made nearly half as many threes as VCU’s entire team this season yet she’s played in three fewer games.
The Bears have turnover issues with 15 a game. VCU would like to get them over that threshold to create extra opportunities. VCU Coach Beth O’Boyle loves to play fast, her team always seems eager to oblige. They have turned opposing offenses over 208 times already, that’s 16 turnovers a night. The issue for O’Boyle’s squad is her players can get a little out of control during fast breaks and throw the ball away. They’ve turned the ball over 188 times on the year. Brown actually forces one more turnover per contest than VCU does. It’s rare for an O’Boyle coached group to face someone who takes the ball away more and it will be interesting to see how the Rams handle that pressure.
Stats Versus Trials
Brown has an impressive 7-3 record but it’s worth pointing out they have not played a very tough schedule. While VCU’s schedule hasn’t exactly been filled with world beaters it does appear they’ve been the more thoroughly tested team. The Bears stats look nice on paper but how will they perform against a Rams team who has seen some very good schools already? It would be nice to head into conference play and the New Year with a 7-7 record.