What to expect: VCU opens A-10 by hosting Dayton

This is it. After months of anticipation, VCU opens their inaugural season in the Atlantic 10 by hosting Dayton.

  • What: VCU (12-3, 0-0) vs. Dayton (10-4, 0-0)
  • Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
  • When: Wednesday, January at 7:00 PM
  • Watch: CBS 6, Comcast 9/212HD, FiOS 6/506HD, and Online
  • Listen: Rams Radio

Note #1: If the game runs past 9:00 PM, the remainder will be seen on CBS 6.3, Comcast 206, and FiOS 466.

Note #2: Wednesday is “Stripe out the Stu.” Free t-shirts will be provided for all fans in a striped pattern throughout the stadium!”

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The Rundown

This is it. After months of anticipation, Virginia Commonwealth University opens their inaugural season in the Atlantic 10 by hosting Dayton. While it has been a quarter of a century since VCU has faced Dayton, the Rams are no strangers to the program. Coach Smart was director of basketball operations there from 2001-03 under former head coach Oliver Purnell. Former coach Anthony Grant was a forward at Dayton from 1983-87. Most importantly, VCU’s 2011 Final Four run began at University of Dayton Arena when VCU topped USC 59-46. The old connections are interesting, but VCU will try to create new connections by topping the Flyers and moving to 1-0 in conference play.

The Team

The Flyers enter Wednesday’s contest a solid 10-4 with wins over Alabama and Murray St., but a disappointing loss to Southern California. Dayton is a middle of the pack team in the A-10, which is scary in the grand scheme of things because the Flyers are a quality team.

Their solid offense and defense start with senior point guard #1 Kevin Dillard. He earned a place on the preseason A-10 first team and he’s living up to the hype. Georgetown transfer #43 Vee Sanford joins him in the backcourt and the two make quite the dynamic duo. Together they average 27.8PPG.

Senior center #2 Josh Benson is the Flyer’s third option on offense with 11.6 PPG. He matches up in size perfectly with Juvonte Reddic. The Ram’s enigmatic big man will again be looking to bounce back after shooting 1-6 from the field and scoring four points against Lehigh.

On defense, Dayton switches between man-to-man and 2-3 zone. They rank 36th in defensive turnover percentage and 59th in defensive rebounding percentage, but, like VCU, they struggle with fouling. Their 3-point defense is much weaker than Lehigh’s which will be welcome news to senior sharpshooter Troy Daniels as he tries to recapture his touch after being guarded like a hawk by the Hawks on Saturday.

On Monday’s Atlantic 10 teleconference, Coach Smart said the Rams used Troy Daniels “almost as a decoy” against Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks refused to help off of Daniels which limited his open looks, but sophomore Treveon Graham in turn found plenty of opportunities from the perimeter. Graham finished 1-10 from 3-point range. “Looking back at the tape, they were good looks, and they were shots I think he is normally going to make four or five out of ten in that situation.” Moving forward, if Graham can shoot closer to his average in those situations, teams will be forced to pick their poison.

The Star

Kevin Dillard’s FG%, APG, and RPG have all decreased this season, but he is still playing quality basketball. He’s an excellent passer, he thrives in transition, and he does a great job of distributing the ball while also leading the Flyers in scoring. Despite shooting a low .384 from the field, he is averaging 15PPG and 4.9 assists per game. Dayton’s success against VCU will start with his ability to play against HAVOC!. The Rams’ full court pressure hasn’t been kind to ball handlers all season, but Dillard is one of the best point guards on VCU’s entire schedule.

The Prediction

This could be a very close game, but VCU has the advantage of playing at home on an emotionally charged night. Dillard will make VCU look less dominant than they do against younger point guards, but the Rams have the weapons to get the job done. Kenpom picks VCU to win 76-62 with a 90% chance of victory.

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Dayton Profile

  • Location: Dayton, OH
  • Enrollment: 10,068
  • All time series: VCU leads 3-1
  • Last meeting: 12/6/86. VCU won 69-58

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Aaron Williams

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

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