7,552 watch depleted Rams win 9th straight

Ram fans were turned away from the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Saturday January 29, 2011, as the season’s first sell-out crowd cheered the Rams to their 9th straight victory.

Ram fans were turned away from the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Saturday January 29, 2011, as the season’s first sell-out crowd cheered the Rams to their 9th straight victory.

After winning 8 games in a row, this game posed a serious threat to the Rams as Senior Forward and leading scorer Jamie Skeen did not play (strained knee) and Senior Guard and third leading scorer Brandon Rozzell did not play (broken hand). With a reduced squad, Coach Shaka Smart put together a starting lineup not seen before. Sophomore guard Troy Daniels, who has averaged only 5.8 minutes per game this season and freshman forward Juvonte Reddic were the less familiar faces in the four guard group.

Troy Daniels got the ball only 30 seconds into the game, and with his first open look, drained a three pointer. 60 seconds later as he dribbled across mid court he planted his foot and heard a pop. Troy Daniels broke his foot, which will likely need a pin surgically inserted. VCU now short three players to injuries will have to be even more creative with their starting lineups.

The first half, the Rams put together one of the hottest shooting streaks witnessed in the 11 year history of the Verizon Wireless Arena. The Seahawk’s zone defense tempted the talented VCU guards who kindly responded by starting the game shooting 7 of 10 from the arc.

VCU’s full court press also paid off early with several steals that were immediately converted into fast break points.  With 13:35 remaining in the first half, senior guard Ed Nixon stole the ball and took it the length of the court for a resounding dunk that set the tone for the night. VCU was more athletic and had much more hustle than UNC Wilmington and it showed as they handled the Seahawks from baseline to baseline. With so many exciting plays the crowd remained amped up and UNC Wilmington continued making mistakes. At the end of the night, the Rams had recorded 14 steals.

The first half of the game was extremely fast basketball, complete with high shooting percentages, lots of transition play and very few fouls. After the break, the tempo of the game 180’d and the clock crawled for 20 minutes.

One contributing factor to the half that would never end was that there were three technical fouls.  The most exciting one came after a Darius Theus steal. Enraged by the call, UNC-Wilmington coach Buzz Peterson spewed out a long stream of 4-letter words and for his grand finale he hit the scorer’s table.

Senior guard Joey Rodriguez, whose scoring production has been inconsistent all season, finished the night with 25 points.

More then two hours after tip-off, the final score read 79-70, an impressive margin considering the Seahawks shot 49-percent on the night.

VCU has put an impressive winning streak together over the past few weeks. This win capped a streak of four games in eight days and was a great test for the Rams, whose younger talent has certainly grown. Coach Smart commented on depth multiple times after the game, which is getting more and more important as March approaches.

With seven games left in the CAA play, the Rams must keep their composure, especially without two of their go-to players. After the upcoming road trip, the Rams will put their 22-game home winning streak on the line against talented Old Dominion, George Mason and James Madison. The Rams are up for the challenge, especially at the home, where they backed by a rambunctious crowd that Coach Smart called “electric” and “invigorating.”

On Monday the matching for the ESPN Bracketbusters will be announced. A non-conference road win against a strong opponent could certainly add to the Rams already strong chances at an at large bid to the NCAA tournament.

For now, all the Rams can do is take it one game at a time and try to maintain sole possession of 1st place in the Colonial Athletic Association.

  • error

    Report an error

Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

There is 1 reader comment. Read it.