What to expect: Rams vs. the Rams, Part 2

VCU hosts Fordham on Saturday in Richmond for the Black & Gold’s Homecoming.

  • What: VCU (17-5, 5-2) vs. Fordham (6-15, 2-4)
  • Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
  • When:Saturday, February 2nd at 7:00 PM
  • Watch: CBS 6.1
  • Listen: Rams Radio

Saturday is officially a gold out!

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Virginia Commonwealth University hosts Fordham on Saturday in Richmond for the Black & Gold’s Homecoming. After beating Rhode Island Wednesday, VCU has an opportunity to go 2-0 against the A-10 Rams this season.

The Rundown

Thursday night, Saint Louis pounded Butler, which further confirmed the only constant about this season’s A-10 race: it’s anyone’s game. Now in a three-way tie for first place with Xavier and Butler, VCU needs to do the only two things they can do: 1) win one game at a time and 2) improve. Saturday offers the Rams an opportunity to do both before entering an off week.

The Team

Third year head coach Tom Pecora is still in rebuild mode in New York City. He’s 23-55 in his 2.5 seasons, but the former Hofstra coach (0-1 against Coach Smart) might finally be turning he corner. He has a talented young bunch that may work its way into the middle of the A-10 in the next few seasons. For now, his young team is still trying to put together the pieces.

After a rough 1-8 start, the Rams are finally playing better basketball. Their best win came against Princeton, but a loss against Manhattan is an ugly mark on a record already stacked with Ls. This is where things get interesting–Fordham has been unpredictable in A-10 play.

ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan commented, “When VCU came from the CAA, the A-10 should have traded Fordham. It probably would have been better for everyone.” Sure, when the Rams lost to Dayton 96-51, they looked like they belonged somewhere else, but Fordham is up to something:

Date Opponent Outcome
1/9 vs Duquesne W 82-75
1/13 vs. UMass L 77-73
1/16 at Charlotte W 74-68
1/23 at Dayton L 96-51
1/26 at Rhode Island L 66-63
1/30 vs Saint Joseph’s L 66-62

On January 8th, I would have predicted Fordham to have zero wins and six losses entering this Saturday’s game. I don’t know what’s more surprising: that they beat Duquesne and Rhode Island, or that they kept it competitive with UMass, Charlotte, and Saint Joseph’s.

Their rebounding is impressive and their shot blocking respectable, but they have struggled in almost every other facet of the game. They rank 297th in turnover percentage. Calling Briante Weber and Darius Theus!

VCU needs one of those games where their opponent struggles so much to move the basketball the first 47 feet, that they look genuinely surprised when they cross the timeline. This could be that game.

The Star: Chris Gaston

14PPG, 8.1RPG, 1.8BPG

Gaston is a double-double machine. The senior forward has 54 career double-doubles in 96 games including four in the first four games of his college career. The lone senior that sees minutes, Gaston is an important defender and an even more important leader.

Unfortunately, Gaston has missed nine games this season to injury. After missing the last three games because of a knee injury, he is questionable for Saturday. His absence would be a huge blow to a team that is already struggling at 6-15.

Supporting Cast

#1 Branden Frazier (PG, Junior)Not to be confused with Brendan Fraser. If Chris Gaston doesn’t play, then Branden Frazier will be the only upperclassman to play for Fordham. Another talented A-10 guard, Frazier leads the Rams in scoring and assists.

#24 Bryan Smith (G, Sophomore) • The Ram’s most capable 3-point shooter, Smith is 35-106 from range this season. Frazier likes to drive the lane and kick to Smith, so stopping the sophomore shooting guard starts with limiting Frazier’s penetration.

#42 Ryan Canty (F, Sophomore) • The second piece of Fordham’s stout front court, Ryan Canty is a rebounding machine. He ranks 12th in OR%, 25th in DR%, and he is also a capable shot blocker. If he stays out of foul trouble, Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham will have to be extra crafty.

#?? ??? (?, Freshmen) • Fordham’s youth can not be understated. With 13 underclassmen on the roster, coach Pecora’s rotations include a lot of new faces. It could be tough keeping up with all of the jersey #s on Saturday.

The Prediction

VCU has struggled over the past few games, but they have also played against some talented back courts. Fordham just doesn’t match up. This should be a confidence boosting win heading into the Rams’ week off. KenPom picks VCU to win 87-61 with a 97% chance of victory.

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Fordham Profile

  • Location: New York City
  • Enrollment: 15,189
  • All time series: N/A
  • Last meeting: N/A

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Aaron Williams

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

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