What to expect: VCU hosts California (Pa.)

Virginia Commonwealth University will play its first public game against an opponent on Friday when they host of California (Pa.). The Vulcans are led by Bill Brown who coached Shaka Smart’s freshman season at Kenyon College and gave Smart his first coaching job as a graduate assistant at CPA.

  • What: VCU (0-0, 0-0) vs. California (Pa.) (0-0, 0-0)
  • Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
  • When: Friday, November 7th at 7:00 PM
  • Watch: None
  • Listen: Rams Radio

The Rams topped California (Pa.) 92-54 last season, and the Vulcans failed to score a point for the first 4:37. Friday probably won’t be close, so here are four important things to watch for as the Rams prepare for their season opener at the Naval Academy against Tennessee:

1. Treveon Graham can never take enough shots

In the first half of the Black & Gold scrimmage, Treveon Graham scored 13 beautiful points as he freight-trained to the rim and went 3-of-3 from 3-point range. In the second half he scored one point as his more talented team lost by 10 points.

[Graham] must lead us in shot attempts. Maybe not every single game, but certainly over the long term. Coach Smart

Graham finished the game 5-of-7 from the field. He attempted 12 shots per game last season. If the Rams’ most elite player attempts 14 shots per game this season, they’ll be in a good position to be elite.

2. JeQuan Lewis

With Briante Weber sidelined, Friday will be a good measure of how prepared JeQuan Lewis is to run the show on November 14th.

He was arguably the best player on our team in the scrimmage against Florida. On offense. Coach Smart

Lewis was also very crisp in the B&G Scrimmage. He finished with 19 points and 3 assists and ran the point very well. He is a huge step down from Briante Weber on defense, and he fouls far too frequently. Lewis will start the next two games, and Smart has even entertained the idea of starting him after that.

3. Fouls

VCU combined for 39 fouls in 30 minutes in the B&G Scrimmage, and they weren’t much better against Florida on Saturday.

In the Florida game, at one point we were trying to set a record for most fouls in a 40 minute game. Coach Smart

JeQuan Lewis, Justin Tillman, and Michael Gilmore combined for 17 fouls in the scrimmage. HAVOC! is much more effective when the Rams avoid hand check fouls on the perimeter. Friday will be a litmus test to see if the defense can maintain its aggression while not giving other teams free points.

4. Post defense and rebounding

Plenty is known about VCU’s perimeter, but little is known about the Rams’ post defense and rebounding. There wasn’t a single post up to be defended in the B&G scrimmage, and the Rams haven’t publicly dealt with any big front-court scoring threats since the departure of Juvonte Reddic.

The Vulcans have more size than last season and rebounded surprisingly well against Purdue’s front court this week. The Boilermakers have two seven-foot, top-100 recruits in AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas. Juvonte Reddic defended a lot of great post players and gobbled up a ton of rebounds for the Rams. Mo Alie-Cox and crew need to establish themselves against a team that has no business competing on the boards.

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The star: #5 Jake Jacubec

(G, Junior, 6-foot-0, 165 pounds)

Jacubec had a tough game against VCU last season en route to 8 points and 4 turnovers, but he is still the best Vulcan. Last season he averaged 10.8 PPG including 52-of-137 (.380) 3-point shooting, and he led the team with 53 assists.

Supporting cast

#11 Khalil Jabbie (G, Junior, 6-foot-0, 165 pounds) • Can shoot the ball from outside and handle the ball. Is a junior but didn’t play against VCU last season.

#15 Arman Marks (G, Senior, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds) • Led the Vulcans with 13 points last season and finished 3-of-3 from inside the arc.

#22 Tony Richardson (F, Freshman, 6-foot-8, 240 pounds) • Richardson had a tough outing against Purdue, but he brings serious size for a freshman at the D-II level.

#21 Richard Smith (F, Junior, 6-foot-9, 175 pounds) • Despite giving up 3 inches and 100 pounds against AJ Hammons (a player with NBA aspirations), Smith pulled down 13 rebounds.

#10 Drew Cook (G, Sophomore, 6-foot-1, 185) • Cook’s 10 points off the bench against Purdue may earn him a starting spot after the starting lineup only scored 33 points.

The Prediction

The Vulcans will probably end up in the mid-50s like last season, but VCU’s offense should get close to 100 points.

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California (Pa.) profile

  • Location: California, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 9,400
  • Conference: PSAC
  • All time series: VCU leads 2-0
  • Last meeting: 11/2/2013. VCU won 92-54

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Aaron Williams

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

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