#5 Virginia Commonwealth University will open its Atlantic 10 Tournament action on Thursday against #12 Fordham.
- What: #VCU (22-9, 12-6) vs. Fordham (10-20, 4-14)
- Where: Barclay’s Center – Brooklyn, NY
- When: Thursday, March 12th at 2:30 PM
- Watch: NBC Sports Network
- Listen: Rams Radio
On March 7th, VCU ended Coach Smart’s first 3-game losing streak with a 71-60 win over George Mason. In the game, HAVOC! regained some of its early season swagger while forcing 28 turnovers, but the Rams are still a work in progress.
Falling to the fifth seed behind crosstown-rival #4 Richmond was disappointing, but it offers a few advantages. Either way, VCU’s path to the quarterfinals would have been through Davidson and Thursday offers VCU an opportunity to end some shooting slumps, get comfortable in the spacious Barclay’s Center, and add to the win column.
But for VCU, the mission is still to go “1-0”. As easy as it is to focus on the injury of Fordham’s Eric Paschall or the dominance of Chris Sengfelder, going “1-0” has much more to do with VCU than Fordham.
It’s really more about us. Us being in a good place and playing VCU basketball. We’re not going to overload our guys with too much information because we have to focus on what we do well.Coach Smart
Even though VCU toppled George Mason, the Rams are still below .500 since their 12 game winning streak ended at the hands of Richmond on January 31st. Thursday gives them an opportunity to string together a couple of victories before attempting to make it to the finals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the third straight season.
Fordham started the conference slate 0-9 before winning 4-of-6 games in mid February. They lost three in a row heading into the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but were able to triumph over a crumbling George Mason.
Despite leading-scorer Eric Paschall being limited to one point with injury, Fordham’s offense looked far improved from earlier in the season. Fordham moved the ball effectively and put up a respectable 1.13 points per possession. Against VCU, they only scored 0.72 points per possession while turning the ball over 28 times. A repeat performance without Briante Weber is unlikely, but anything above 20 turnovers will likely spell doom for Fordham.
Fordham did however force the usually sure-handed Rams into 17 turnovers while holding VCU to 75 points in an 80 possessions barn-burner. Neither Fordham’s offense nor defense is exceptional, but they have enough individual talent to make things interesting. Fordham is under-sized and inexperienced, but talented and are trending in the right direction.
THE STAR: #1 Mandell Thomas
13.4 PPG (95-223 2PFG, 32-91 3PFG, 88-117 FT), 4 RPG, 2.6 APG, 2.3 SPG, 2.1 TOPG
He finished with 13 points (2-7 2PFG, 1-3 3PFG), 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and one turnover on Wednesday. While it wasn’t the best shooting night, he affected the game in multiple ways. That’s what Thomas does: he defends, he gets other involved, and he makes plays when it matters. He had four steals in the sloppy Rams v. Rams meeting earlier this season–expect a similar performance on Thursday.
# Antwoine Anderson (PG, Freshman) • His role evaporated during Fordham’s solid February, but he’s back to playing more minutes. He struggled on offense but was disruptive on the perimeter.
# Eric Paschall (G/F, Freshman) • The A-10 Rookie of the Year played 11 minutes before being shut down in the second half with a left foot injury.
#43 Christian Sengfelder (F, Freshman) • Sengfelder was on fire on Wednesday night. He finished with 27 points (7-8 2PFG, 3-5 3PFG) while showcasing moves ranging from baseline cuts to silky smooth 3-pointers.
#30 Ryan Rhoomes (F, Junior) • He’s the lone meaningful upperclassman on a team that suddenly looks like it has promise for the future. His main responsibility as the biggest man on campus is rebounding and playing defense. He’s playing his role better than anyone else on the team.
#10 Jon Severe (G, Sophomore) • Severe finished last season as the fifth highest scoring freshman in the country with 17.6 PPG. After missing time due to a suspension and personal reasons, his role has been limited this season.
KenPom picks VCU to win 74-63 with an 87% chance of victory.
- Location: Bronx, NY
- Enrollment: ~15,000
- Conference: A-10
- All-time Series VCU leads 4-0.
- Last Meeting 1/4/2015. VCU won 75-58.