It was a great afternoon to be at the Siegel Center to watch VCU women’s basketball take on Presbyterian. Still feeling the flush of their first win in their Friday night season opener, the Rams anxiously took to the court in a quick turnaround less than 48 hours later. The Rams have a grueling schedule in their first weeks of play with 6 games in just 12 days, most of them on the road. With only 1 day between their first victory and their next opponent neither the coaching staff nor the players had much time to prepare but that didn’t stop them from starting an undefeated streak at home for the 2014-15 season.
Presbyterian College had a 12-19 record in the 2013-14 season and holds the second-ranked scoring defense for last season keeping opponents to an average of 53.5 points per game. They were successful in keeping VCU close to that margin allowing only 55 points from the Rams, a significant difference from the 84 points they scored against Wagner just 2 days prior.
In contrast VCU boasts a 22-10 record from last season and was ranked 5th in the nation in steals, averaging 11.5 per game in 2013-14. In the game against the Blue Hose the Rams had 13 steals. Ashlee Mitchell and Curteeona Brelove led the disruption of Presbyterian’s offense with 3 steals each and the Rams were very effective on defense holding the Blue Hose well below their last year average of 52.4 PPG. Presbyterian scored 26 points in the first half and only 10 points in the second half.
The Peppas got the crowd warmed up and kept fans chanting and cheering for the Rams as the new coaching staff looked for their second home win. Head Coach Beth O’Boyle has placed a lot of emphasis on rebounding and getting the ball down the court fast. Last year the Rams averaged 41 rebounds per game and in their first 2 games they have had 46 and 47 respectively. The team has demonstrated a fantastic cohesion both on and off the court. They are fearless in attacking the ball and holding onto it when they have the opportunity and are shooting around 60% on free throws when they make it to the line. VCU’s offense started strong with 66.7% scoring percentage early on but tapered down to 33.3% by the end of the first half and 35.7% overall. In the Wagner game their average was 44.2%, but they also took 77 shots and were limited to just 56 against Presbyterian. It’s also very early and you never know what an entire season will hold.
It’s going to be a challenge working the teaching moments in with such a tight schedule, especially with so much travel. If the Rams can improve consistency in their shooting percentage they will be a force to be reckoned with this year regardless of where they play. The aggressive tempo they play at and the ability to rotate and keep fresh legs on the court is a definite advantage for the team. They’ve got the spark; they just need to control the burn to produce one heck of a fireworks show this year.
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