VCU wins, but it wasn’t as close as you think VCU beat South Dakota State 72-56 Wednesday night in another one of those “no, seriously, it was much closer than the final score reveals” games. The Rams led by only 5 points with less than 10 minutes left, but Senior Eric Maynor scored 15 of […]
VCU wins, but it wasn’t as close as you think
VCU beat South Dakota State 72-56 Wednesday night in another one of those “no, seriously, it was much closer than the final score reveals” games. The Rams led by only 5 points with less than 10 minutes left, but Senior Eric Maynor scored 15 of his 29 in those final minutes to put VCU on top for good.
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits, ranked 330 out of 341 teams last year in RPI, visited VCU for the first time as part of the Cancun Challenge. VCU will face New Mexico and either Vanderbilt or Drake at end of November to finish off the tournament.
Not putting away the Jackrabbits early was a concern for Coach Anthony Grant. “There were spots in the first half where we lost it… Our confidence was shaken.”
Winning by 16 may feel like a healthy margin, but the Rams, ranked #40 in Sports Illustrated’s pre-season poll and a favorite to win the CAA, expected more versus #330.
3-point defense: Last year VCU led the nation in 3-point defense, yielding just a .268 average from behind the arc. However, the Rams allowed the Jackrabbits to shoot 9-20 for 3, and couldn’t find an answer to Clint Sargent, who went 5-9 despite a rotating crew of Rams guards defending him. The Jackrabbits made more 3-pointers than 2-pointers in the game. Meanwhile, the Rams went a paltry 4-17 from downtown.
VCU had a clear size advantage, with 6-10 Sophomore Larry Sanders towering a quarter-foot above the tallest starting Jackrabbit, but the Rams were out-rebounded 41-38. The rebounding deficit was 21-16 in first half, when Sanders landed only 2 of his 8 boards. This is particularly worrisome when VCU faces more size when conference play begins.
The Jackrabbits had 12 offensive rebounds in the game. VCU’s Sanders was a partial contributor to this statistic, as 4 of his 7 blocks went out-of-bounds and thus to the Jackrabbits. As the sophomore continues to develop, expect more blocks to remain in-bounds, and more chances for the Rams to capitalize.
In Coach Grant’s words, we witnessed a “classic Eric Maynor moment,” as he took the team on his shoulders and carried them past 40 minutes. Maynor’s spectacular performance will be relied upon time and time again as the season progresses.
The Rams’ full court press was effective. Joey Rodriquez was particularly successful, picking up points and forcing several turnovers and jump balls, showing great hustle off the bench. The only downside was the 3 fouls he picked up in the midst of the press. Expect the press to continue to stymie other teams this year.
Freshman Bradford Burgess started for the second straight game, and was solid on offense and defense. Burgess, a Midlothian native and Benedictine grad, chalked up 2 steals, 2 blocks, 3 boards, and 7 points on the night. He’s adapting well from the floor of the Memorial Gym to that of the Siegel Center. Terrance Saintil was the only other freshman with playing time, going 0-1 with 2 rebounds in 4 minutes of play in the first half.
VCU plays a tough road match-up @ Rhode Island on Saturday. Last Sunday, Rhode Island took #8 Duke to the edge, losing 79-82 despite leading by as much as 15.