What to expect: Rams face first A-10 road test against St. Bonaventure

VCU won their inaugural Atlantic 10 game on Wednesday against a talented Dayton squad, now Coach Shaka Smart and Co. will try to replicate the performance on the road against the reigning A-10 champion, St. Bonaventure.

  • What: VCU (13-3, 1-0) vs. St. Bonaventure (7-7, 0-1)
  • Where: Reilly Center (Allegany, NY)
  • When: Saturday, January 12th at 4:00 PM
  • Watch: CBS 6.3 (Comcast 206; Verizon 466)
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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The Rundown

Virginia Commonwealth University won their inaugural Atlantic 10 game on Wednesday against a talented Dayton squad in Richmond. Coach Shaka Smart and Co. will try to replicate the performance on the road against the reigning A-10 champion, St. Bonaventure, on Saturday.

The Team

The Bonnies finished league play in 4th place last season but made an unexpected run in Atlantic City to capture their first ever A-10 title. Accomplishing that feat required three tough wins over Saint Joseph’s, Massachusetts, and Xavier in only three days. There is one huge 6-foot-9 difference between last year’s squad and this year’s squad: Andrew Nicholson. Now, Nicholson starts for the Orlando Magic, but the Bonnies probably wish he was still in Allegany, NY.

St. Bonaventure lost an NBA talent, but they return the 26th most experienced team in the nation. Despite the abundance of seniors and juniors, the results have been mixed. At 7-7, their best win is over Niagara, and they have underwhelming losses to Canisius, Arkansas State, and George Washington. The loss to GWU came Wednesday night 78-56 extending the Bonnie’s losing streak to four games.

Defensively, the Bonnies have some serious issues. They allowed George Washington’s anemic offense to score 78 points including 6-12 shooting from 3-point range. They play mostly man defense, but they will occasionally switch to zone. 5-foot-10 Eric Mosley isn’t always on the court, but when he is VCU should be able to exploit his size. He is quick and can grab steals, but look for the Ram’s guards to outmuscle him and shoot over him.

They are a much better team offensively. They take care of the basketball, get second chance opportunities with offensive rebounds, and shoot well from all over the court. Dayton entered Wednesday as one of the most steal resistant teams in America, but it didn’t seem to matter as Briante Weber and VCU wreaked HAVOC! St. Bonaventure enters the game almost equally steal resistant, so it will be interesting to see how they handle VCU’s pressure.

The Star

6-foot-6 small forward #11 Demetrius Conger leads the team in scoring with 13.6PPG and 6.9RPG. He scores most of his points from 2-point range, he isn’t scared to shoot from beyond the arc despite making a low .265, and he is very good at getting to the charity stripe where he makes .822. He typically plays the 3 spot but he is capable of switching to the 4.

Supporting cast

Averaging 13.4PPG, 6-foot-5 #23 Chris Johnson is their second most capable scorer. He doesn’t shoot 3-pointers frequently, but when he does they go in at a .455 clip.

The Bonnie’s best 3-point shooter, Eric Mosley averages 10.3PPG in only 18.5 minutes of action. Briante Weber has the length and energy to shut down the undersized point guard when he sees minutes.

The most intriguing player on the team is 7-foot center #35 Youssou Ndoye. He is an extremely talented rebounder and he can block shots. When he avoids foul trouble and stays on the court, he can sometimes put together efficient offensive games. Sophomores are difficult to predict, but when he is on the court VCU needs to guard him without fouling and the Rams need to be aware of his shot blocking/ altering presence on defense.

The Prediction

VCU may not force turnovers at their usual clip against the Bonnies’ more responsible offense, but VCU still has the tools exploit their defense. KenPom picks VCU to win 76-64 with an 86% chance of victory.

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St. Bonaventure Profile

  • Location: Allegany, NY
  • Enrollment: ~2,500
  • All time series: St. Bonaventure leads 2-0.
  • Last meeting: 2/19/79. St. Bonaventure won 84-76.

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Aaron Williams

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

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