Recap: VCU cruises past California (Pa.) in exhibition game

#15 Virginia Commonwealth University topped California (Pa.) 92-43 Friday night in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

15 Virginia Commonwealth University topped California (Pa.) 92-43 Friday night in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.


The Rams dominated from the tip-off until the final buzzer behind a crushing pressure defense and a crisp offense.

VCU played all thirteen players in the first thirteen minutes and Coach Smart maintained a rapid fire rotation. The freshmen quickly gained confidence and comfort. Justin Tillman finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jonathan Williams finished with 4 assists and was relentless while defending the basketball. Terry Larrier finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Michael Gilmore tallied 2 points, 2 assists, and 6 rebounds while being vocal on the defensive end.

Early in the second half, Coach Smart put in a lineup consisting of Jonathan Williams, Doug Brooks, Terry Larrier, Michael Gilmore, and Justin Tillman. The young group struggled at first and the Vulcans outscored the Rams 10-9 to start the second half. After a monstrous dunk by Justin Tillman, something clicked with the group and their confidence went from zero to hero in the blink of an eye. It was the kind of transformation that makes exhibition games worth watching.

In the preview, we mentioned four things worth watching. Here’s what we saw:

Treveon Graham Can Never Take Enough Shots

Treveon Graham had a quiet night. He finished with 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal, and 2 turnovers in 15 minutes of action. The Vulcans defended him well and he never got in rhythm, but it’s not a reason to panic. The Rams will need him to be more assertive in the season opener against Tennessee next week.

JeQuan Lewis

VCU finished 12-of-28 (.429) from 3-point range. While shooters have to knock down shots, the success is at least partially attributable to improved point guard play. Lewis and Williams have a knack for driving and kicking that will pay dividends for all of the Rams’ shooters.

Lewis was particularly crisp. His maturation since last season is noticeable every time he steps on the court. Expect to see Briante Weber play off of the basketball more with Lewis manning the show which should benefit the Rams’ offense – especially their 3-point shooters.


After combining for 39 fouls in 60 minutes (2 teams times 30 minutes) worth of basketball in the B&G Scrimmage and supposedly trying to set a “record” for fouls in the secret scrimmage against Florida, VCU fouled just seven times Friday night. The Vulcans lack perimeter players who can drive so it’s tough to compare the fouling, but seven fouls is a positive for a team that promises to foul quite a bit early in the season.

Post Defense and Rebounding

California (Pa.) doesn’t have a post player so the defense is still a question mark, but the rebounding was dominant. The Vulcans aren’t DI-level rebounders, but VCU grabbed 19 offensive rebounds on 32 missed shots and CPa. was limited to 14 offensive rebounds on 39 missed shots. At one point, Tillman, Larrier, and Guest were on the court together. That’s a lot of length to have attacking the boards. This has the potential to be Smart’s best rebounding team ever.

Top performer: Melvin Johnson

20 points (1-2 2PFG, 6-8 3PFG), 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, and 4 turnovers

Johnson was quiet early and had a few sloppy turnovers before finding his stroke and lighting it up from range. The Rams need scoring and the Rams need 3-point shooting. Johnson looks primed to add more than enough of both this season.

Looking forward

VCU will open the season against Tennessee next Friday, November 14th at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Aaron Williams

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

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