The Rams will end a four game home stand on Sunday against St. Louis University. The SLU Billikens are the preseason favorite to win the league and are easily VCU’s toughest test during this four-game stretch. St. Louis is led by fourth-year coach and defending A-10 coach of the year, Lisa Stone. Stone led the Billikens to a share of the regular season conference championship in 2016; she also guided her team to the third round of the WNIT.
Stone appears to have a perfect grasp of how playing time should be distributed amongst her players. She has used the same starting lineup for all 15 matchups. All of those starters average over 24 minutes, the most used bench player is averaging fewer than 17. In tightly contested games don’t expect to see much help come from Stone’s bench. She is willing to leave her starters out there for well over 30 minutes if she feels like she has to. In the Billikens’ three contests decided by fewer than 10 points, their starters complied over 85% of the available minutes in those contests.
SLU Top Talent
It’s easy to understand why Stone places so much of the game in her starters’ hands, they are a highly talented group. They are led by the A-10 Co-Player of the Year, Jackie Kemph and a member of the A-10 All-Defensive Team, Sadie Stipanovich. Kemph is a 5’7 junior guard averaging 14.6 points and over 7 assists. She boasts an impressive 2.5 assist to turnover ratio. The native of Illinois is also the best on the team at getting to the free throw line and she converts on over 80% of her attempts.
Stipanovich is a 6’3 center from the St. Louis area. She is the leading scorer for the Billikens with an average of 14.8 points, despite playing nine fewer minutes per contest than Kemph. Stipanovich is also the leading rebounder for her squad, grabbing 8.6 boards per outing. She is an extremely efficient scorer with a make rate of 56%. She excels from the free throw line where she hits 74%. St. Louis Coach Lisa Stone doesn’t ask Stipanovich to make inside out passes frequently; the senior center only has 6 assists through her first 15 games.
Stone’s lineup features one more double-digit scorer, Jordyn Frantz. She is a 6’ sophomore guard averaging 11.7 points. Frantz transforms the Billikens from good to great with her three-point shooting. She hits those shots at an impressive rate of 44%. Frantz’s game is certainly geared heavily toward shooting from range but she is able to score all over the floor so VCU’s guards will have to play exceptionally well when matched up with her.
Stone’s first five are a balanced group that complements each other well. They have shooters, rebounders, distributers and low post offense. Her team averages 77 points per game while only surrendering 58. VCU opponents are 5-1 when scoring 70 or more against the Rams, it will take a whale of a defensive effort to hold this group under 70. Guards like Mooriah Rowser, Isis Thorpe, and GG Goodhope must hit shots for VCU to produce the amount of points necessary to keep up with the Billikens. If the Rams can pull off this win over the preseason conference favorites that could change the trajectory of this season. This is a huge matchup for this group if the snow stops you from making it to the Siegel Center don’t fret because it will be televised on CBS Sports Network for the second game in a row.