What to expect: VCU hosts struggling Longwood

Three days after crushing Western Kentucky 76-44, VCU hosts a struggling Longwood.

  • What: VCU (8-3, 0-0) vs. Longwood (3-8, 0-0)
  • Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
  • When: Friday, December 21st at 7:30 PM
  • Watch: CBS 6.3 (Comcast 206; Verizon 466)
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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The Rundown

Three days after crushing Western Kentucky 76-44, Virginia Commonwealth University hosts a struggling Longwood. VCU enters the contest on a five game winning streak while Longwood is coming off of two back-to-back losses. At 3-8, Longwood has one win over a Division I opponent: an overtime victory over a very bad Florida A&M team.

The Lancers are probably the worst team VCU will face all season. Longwood joined NCAA Division I in 2007 as an independent, and they are now enjoying their first season in the Big South conference. With the conference membership comes the opportunity to fight for a title and a chance at an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Head coach Mike Gillian is already seeing dividends, and he has one of the best recruiting classes in his tenure, but the results have yet to be realized. The 14th least experienced team in the nation, Longwood has some talented players but they are collectively struggling to put together the pieces.

The Team

Led by freshman point guard #1 Nik Brown, Longwood has had their fair share of offensive struggles this season and then some. VCU loves playing freshmen point guards and to make things worse, Longwood turns the ball over on 26.6% of possessions (337th nationally) against normal defenses. HAVOC! is no normal defense and fans could see a repeat performance of Tuesday’s dismantling of Western Kentucky.

The Lancers play uptempo basketball regardless of their opponent and their pace could get them into trouble in the Siegel Center. They run tons of pick and rolls especially with the inside-out combo of guard Tristan Carey and forward Michael Kessens.

Defensively the Lancers have allowed 83.5 points per game including 105 points to Creighton and 112 points to Arkansas. Longwood plays mostly man-to-man defense, but as the season has progressed, they’ve started playing some zone defense as well. They don’t force turnovers, they struggle with rebounding, and they foul too much, but their biggest weakness is shooting defense. They rank 339th in defensive EFG% (a combination of 2-pointers and 3-pointers) at 56.5%. Juvonte Reddic will probably get some quality looks as he tries to play more efficiently after averaging only 7.3 points and .304 shooting over the past three games.

The Star

A La Salle transfer, junior guard #12 Tristan Carey was one of the most prolific scorers in Virginia high school basketball history. He scored 884 points during his senior season which ranks third all time in the state behind Allen Iverson and Moses Malone. At .338, he is Longwood’s only 3-point scoring threat. On a team that lacks experience, he is their most mature player, and he is one of the only Lancers that doesn’t struggle with turnovers.

Freshman forward #14 Michael Kessens is the Lancers biggest body. At 6-foot-9, the Switzerland native will see plenty of minutes, if he avoids foul trouble, because they need him to guard VCU’s bigger front court. He has a developed mid range jumper, and he will turn into a fantastic player once he adds weight.

The Prediction

Longwood is going to get better in the next few seasons, but their turnover issues alone put them at too much of a disadvantage against VCU. Kenpom picks VCU to win 94-53 with a 99.7% chance of victory.

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Longwood Profile

  • Location: Farmville
  • Enrollment: 4,800
  • Conference: Big South
  • All time series: VCU leads 3-0
  • Last meeting: 12/15/07.

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Aaron Williams

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

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