VCU’s 71-51 home loss to George Mason on Tuesday proved the Rams have some work to do before they play Wichita State in the ESPN BracketBusters on Friday. It proved they have a lot of work to do before the CAA tournament in early March. It proved they have A TON of work to do if they are lucky enough to find success in any post-season tournament.
Four days ago, the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams possessed a 22 home game winning streak (4th best in the nation), were tied for 1st in the CAA, were only a few wins out of the AP and ESPN Top 25, and had a serious chance at an at large bid to go dancing come March. Now they are building a new streak with back-to-back losses at home.
Tuesday’s 71-51 home loss to George Mason proved the Rams have some work to do before they play Wichita State in the ESPN BracketBusters on Friday. It proved they have a lot of work to do before the CAA tournament in early March. It proved they have A TON of work to do if they are lucky enough to find success in any post-season tournament.
The Rams, who have a very distinct style of gameplay, were unrecognizable this week. Their signature full-court press and up-tempo offense were dismantled, and their 3-point shooting (which has blown teams out and has lead to impressive second half comebacks) has been ice cold. Jamie Skeen, their inside weapon and leading scorer, has failed to attack in the paint and create an inside game to open up outside shooters.
Joey Rodriguez summed it up by saying, “It’s embarrassing right now.”
I don’t know what was more embarrassing on Tuesday: VCU’s defense or George Mason’s rowdy and very loud cheers that started with seven-and-a-half minutes left in the second half and a 25 point lead.
GMU reached that lead by hitting every open shot. VCU’s defenders failed to communicate time and time again, and GMU capitalized by shooting 57.3% from beyond the arc. Every time VCU got a big defensive play, they responded by shooting off balance threes with no one in rebounding position, picking up offensive fouls, or turning the ball over in transition. After multiple big offensive plays, George Mason responded by scoring in under five seconds with Hail Mary passes and spirit-crushing dunks.
On one possession, senior guard Brandon Rozzell air balled a three point shot. George Mason grabbed the rebound and went on the fast break, and Rozzell intentionally fouled a George Mason guard. These 20 seconds were a microcosm for the Ram’s season-defining two game home stand.
A few weeks ago, Coach Shaka Smart said the Rams still have their best basketball ahead of them. I believe him. With four seniors that have contributed to the Rams perennial success, their last few games will be passionate. I hope that they can find this passion soon…before their chances of dancing disappear.
Here are a few stats that I calculated to show some of the Ram’s recent problems:
- The Rams starters average 51.3 points per game. The past two games: 25 ppg
- The Rams Seniors average 46.3 points. The past two games: 25.6 ppg
- The Rams average 35.8% from the three-point arc. The past two games: 26%
- The Rams have been outrebounded by an average of 13 boards a game.
- Only two Rams have had double digits in either game. Neither are starters.