Shots weren’t falling as the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams fell short Wednesday night against the red-hot Georgia State University Panthers.
Shots weren’t falling as the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams fell short Wednesday night against the red-hot Georgia State University Panthers. The Rams looked flat until the final two minutes as the Panthers pulled out a 55-53 victory at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
The Rams started slow Wednesday night as they hit only one of their first seven shots and two of their first six free throws. For the 2011-2012 Rams, a slow start isn’t all that uncommon. Unlike typical games however, the Rams didn’t force a key turnover or hit a key shot that would typically allow them to explode and take the lead.
Coach Ron Hunter’s Panthers looked sharp. With five seniors and a stand out sophomore guard, the Panther’s defense made the Rams look apathetic in the first half and extremely uncomfortable in the second half.
Somehow, the Panthers never developed a “safe” lead, and with 2:06 remaining, Troy Daniels drained a three to pull within six points. Rob Brandenberg then grabbed a steal and Troy Daniels drained another three. GSU scored two points and then Bradford Burgess drained a three. With 24 second remaining, Panther Devonta White missed both free throws and the Rams had the ball trailing 55-53. Much too slowly, the Rams took the ball up the court and with only seconds remaining, Daniels failed to connect on a game-winning three pointer.
While Troy Daniels missed the final shot, he is the last person that deserves any blame for the poor play. Juvonte Reddic struggled with catching the ball, Briante Weber picked up four fouls as he was constantly late to get into defensive position, Rob Brandenberg and Bradford Burgess missed countless open shots and the Rams failed to force turnovers anywhere near their usual rate.
The Panthers entered the game with the 17th best defense in the country and the best defense in the CAA. Switching between a match up 2-3 zone and a 1-3-1 zone with different types of full court pressure, GSU sped up the Rams and forced them out of their comfort zone.
“We press in our sleep,” head coach Ron Hunter pointed out after the Panthers constantly beat VCU’s HAVOC defense. VCU who has the nations second highest stealing percentage only scored three points off turnovers. The Rams defense is a huge part of their offense and without scoring points in transition, the Rams looked lost in the half court.
At the end of the night, the Rams shot 27.1% from the field.
The Good News
VCU had a historically awful shooting night and a great GSU team imposed their will, but the Rams still had a shot to win. With the 9th youngest team in the country, this is one of those games that will force the Rams to practice harder, play harder, and learn to just out-will teams down the stretch in the CAA regular season. Wednesday night the Rams learned lessons that they will carry throughout this season–and for guys like Treveon Graham and Briante Weber for the next three years.
- The game was VCU’s 10th straight sell-out which broke the CAA record held by UNC-Wilmington.
- Bradford Burgess and Rob Brandenberg shot a combined 1 of 25.
- Rob Brandenberg hasn’t scored a bucket in 2012. (0 of 15 from the field)
- Troy Daniels has hit 10 of 16 attempts from beyond the arc over the past two games. He has struggled with consistency but he could be the shooting spark the Rams need to get back into first place.
- December 11, 1999 – The last time the Rams shot worse than 27.1%.
On Sunday January 8th, the Rams travel to take on the CAA preseason favorite Drexel Dragons at 8pm.
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