The Byrd Cage

Can Belmont Wreak “Havoc” in Richmond Tomorrow?

In Game Posts on November 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Shaka-SmartVCU Head Coach Shaka Smart

Coming off a less than impressive stint in the Great Alaska Shootout, our boys are geared up for what, in my opinion, is one of the more challenging games (aside from Kansas) on our schedule. I have to admit I’ve had this game circled on my calendar since it was announced for numerous reasons.  Perhaps a little bragging right between my brother and I (my brother attended VCU), home town nostalgia (I am a native of Richmond, VA…home to the VCU Rams) or maybe it’s just that I am excited for what I believe is going to be a great game of college basketball.

History

Let me start by saying this, if any school is going to rival Belmont in terms of its hipster population- its VCU. Often used as a “crutch” school unless you are an art major, VCU has managed to build a student base filled with hipsters, dead heads, punk-rockers (think New Found Glory) and every other eccentric student base you can think of.  This has created quite the enigma because, well, they love their basketball.  VCU under the leadership of head coach Anthony Grant started its’ climb to prominence in 2007 with their upset over Duke in the NCAA Tourney. Grant left the program to pursue other opportunities leading the Rams to hire current head coach, Shaka Smart.

What Smart has done for VCU is nothing short of a mid-major fan’s dream. Increased brand recognition, recruiting efforts, media attention and a Final Four appearance all have come into fruition since Shaka has taken the reigns of the program.  Currently the Rams stand at a modest 4-3 and one could argue that they are the strongest three loss team in the country having had some close calls with the likes of Duke (AP #2), Missouri (AP #16) and an undefeated Wichita State program.

On The Matchup

From my initial gathering in their win against Memphis, if there is one thing that VCU does on a consistent basis is press. An in-your-face relentless defensive pressure for what seems like the entire game. Dubbed “Havoc”, this team loves to force turnovers and capitalize in transition.  While this is nothing new on a defensive front, it does pose some matchup issues for our Bruins.  As we noted in our Alaska recap, our bench just really isn’t cutting it (exception being perhaps Craig Bradshaw) due to inexperience.  Couple this with the fact that our team has been on a tirade of foul trouble lately; we may be seeing our less than stellar role players on the court quicker than we would like. If I’m a betting man, VCU will look to drive the ball inside, in an effort to get us into foul trouble early on in the game. IF this happens to be the case, we may be looking at a difficult game for ourselves.

VCU’s main offensive production is driven by forward Juvonte Reddic (15ppg) and guard Treveon Graham (13.3ppg) who can get hot from behind the arc if given the opportunity. Key role players such as Rob Brandenberg and Troy Daniels will also be sure to contribute early on and look to be factors in the outcome of the game. Our opponent is a fairly decent shooting team, but expect them to take advantage of Juvonte’s height and look down low for scoring opportunities. Reddic is extremely efficient shooting almost .600 from the floor.  Finally, look for Shaka to utilize a deep bench in maximizing play on both sides of the floor.

Thoughts

I actually think that this can be a decent matchup for the Bruins provided we don’t fall into foul trouble early on. In our last several games, we have been at our weakest both defensively and offensively when depth is limited. That being said, I think we have an opportunity to surprise VCU a bit in terms of our aggressiveness on defense and to create some turnovers of our own. It should be noted that in the Bruin’s first six games, opponents were averaging close to 20 turnovers a game. VCU will most definitely keep their attention focused on Ian and Kerron throughout the game so it is critical that Trevor, Blake and J.J step up to hit some shots.  If we are able to limit turnovers on our end and have a decent shooting night, I think we can leave Richmond with a hard fought win.

Prediction: Belmont 70 – VCU 67

-Brian Dunn

_____________________

Belmont tips off at 6 p.m. CT in Richmond tomorrow.

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  1. Wait, why is Shaka pressing his nose against the glass?

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