What to expect: VCU visits ETSU

In the midst of a seven game winning streak, Virginia Commonwealth University hits the road for the first time since December 7th to take on East Tennessee State University.

  • What: VCU (10-3, 0-0) vs. East Tennessee State University (2-10, 0-0)
  • Where: ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center
  • When: Wednesday, January 2nd at 7:00 PM
  • Watch: Online
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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The Rundown

In the midst of a seven game winning streak, Virginia Commonwealth University hits the road for the first time since December 7th to take on East Tennessee State University. VCU has avoided the road during the non-conference slate playing only at Winthrop and at Old Dominion in addition to three games over Thanksgiving in the Bahamas on a neutral court. The Rams will use the game as a road tune-up before entering the A-10 schedule in less than one week.

The Team

ETSU is off to their worst start since the 1975-76 season. The Bucs are unrecognizable when compared to last season’s 17-14 squad. Jarvis Jones is the sole returner from last season’s top seven scorers, and he missed seven games because of issues with academics. Three players including their two leading scorers graduated, two seniors, Sheldon Cooley and Marcus Dubose, were dismissed from the team for drug-related arrests, and Lukas Poderis tore his ACL before the season. Making things worse, freshman point guard Petey McClain has missed seven straight games with an ankle injury, and he is not expected to play Wednesday.

The shorthanded Bucs are left without a true point guard which spells bad news against VCU’s HAVOC! defense. With McClain sidelined, senior #2 Jarvis Jones has become chief distributor, but he has struggled with his shot in his first five games back with the team. He attempts 6.4 3-pointers but is only shooting .188 from range. Despite some shooting woes, Jones and Lester Wilson will attempt plenty of shots on a team that ranks 337th in effective field goal percentage.

ETSU is much stronger on defense than offense. They play plenty of zone defense which should give Troy Daniels an opportunity to continue his hot shooting. When VCU faced Old Dominion, a team that uses plenty of zone defense, Daniels went off connecting on 8 of 13 three-pointers en route to a then career high 24 points. Daniels has upped his career high twice in the past two games scoring a combined 52 points while hitting 16 of 29 3-point attempts. Daniels has finally brought the legends of his in-practice performances to the court, and the result has been incredible to watch.

The Bucs force plenty of turnovers while committing very few fouls, something Coach Smart would like to see out of his own team. They have weight in the front court, but are an undersized team lengthwise and have been inefficient rebounders. Look for VCU to quickly establish Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham on the inside before unleashing the 3-point shooters on the perimeter.

The Star

Redshirt freshman #15 Lester Wilson has been a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy season for Coach Murry Bartow’s struggling squad. He ranked 25th on ESPN’s Top-25 Freshman list. An undersized forward at 6-foot-4, Wilson is the Buc’s leading scorer at 15.5PPG and most capable 3-point shooter at .361. Wilson likes to shoot and he certainly won’t win any passing awards. He boasts a 43-1 field goals attempted to assist ratio. In other words, Wilson has played 428 minutes and has only recorded 4 assists.

The Prediction

VCU has no excuse for anything less than a solid victory against the Bucs. Wednesday’s game is about replicating the Ram’s success in Richmond on the road. Can HAVOC! force as many turnovers, create as many transition buckets, rattle as many players, and find as much success in front of hostile crowds as it does in the Siegel Center? Ken Pomeroy projects VCU to win 73-51 with a 97% chance of victory.

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ETSU Profile

  • Location: Johnson City, TN
  • Enrollment: 15,536
  • Conference: Atlantic Sun Conference
  • All time series: VCU leads 9-0
  • Last meeting: 11/20/01. VCU won 79-71.

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Aaron Williams

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

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