Thursday’s thriller in the “blizzard” was a game to remember for a long, long time, but the Rams have no time to dwell on it as they visit Duquesne Saturday night.
- What: VCU (15-3, 3-0) vs. Duquesne (7-10, 0-3)
- Where: CONSOL Energy Center
- When: Saturday, January 19th at 7:00 PM
- Watch: GoDuquesne.com ($)
- Listen: Rams Radio
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Thursday’s thriller in the “blizzard” was a game to remember for a long, long time. As incredibly entertaining and epic as it was, it still only counts as one conference W, and it carries the exact same weight as a win over A-10 basement dwellers Fordham or Duquesne. Virginia Commonwealth University will try and tally one more conference win as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne Saturday night at 7:00 PM.
When ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan previewed the Atlantic 10, he commented, “When VCU came from the CAA, the A-10 should have traded Fordham. It probably would have been better for everyone.” Well…Duquesne lost to Fordham last week by 7-points.
This season hasn’t been easy for first year head coach Jim Ferry. After a reasonable 7-5 start with an inexperienced and undersized team, the Dukes dropped bad games to Louisiana Lafayette, Penn State (this is way worse than it seems), and Fordham. They are in the midst of a five-game losing streak and their next three contests are against VCU, St. Louis, and Dayton.
Over the summer, when St. Louis and Xavier were celebrating the additions of Butler and VCU, Duquesne was probably scared. If they weren’t then, then they are now.
Offensively, the Dukes rely on perimeter scorers Derrick Colter and Sean Johnson. Duquesne is going to attempt plenty of 3-pointers, particularly in transition. They will hit some, but it’s tough to see how their offense is going to score against VCU’s full-court pressure.
One way they could cause VCU problems is with offensive rebounding. Duquesne ranks 88th in offensive rebounding percentage which has at times been a struggle for VCU. Duquesne’s ability to get second chance points will depend largely upon which Juvonte Reddic shows up: the aggressive 17-rebound, St. Joe’s-game Reddic or the frustrated, five-rebound, ODU-game Reddic.
Defensively is where the Dukes need to improve. Over the past five games, they’ve allowed 82PPG including 91 points to an offensively challenged Louisiana Lafayette. Duquesne ranks 314th in defensive turnover percentage, but more importantly they rank 332nd in defensive 3-point field goal percentage.
The Rams need to get their 3-point shooting back on track. As evidenced by his 1-10 performance on Thursday night, defenses have adjusted to the hot-handed Troy Daniels. Recently, opponents have put a defender on #30 and then refused to help when VCU runs the pick and roll. Thursday, this was huge as Darius Theus entered the lane on demand. Treveon Graham also saw the benefits as he connected on 4-of-7 3-pointers, but more importantly he used the shot fake to get past defenders. While he isn’t scoring, Daniel’s presence is helping the team.
That being said, Daniels is due for a game. Whether he scores transition 3-pointers, 32-foot 3-pointers (like the ETSU game), or Duquesne loses him on defense (which is likely to happen), Saturday is the type of game for the senior shooting sensation to get some looks and regain his touch.
The Star: Derrick Colter
13.4PPG, 5.1APG, 2.8RPG
The numbers don’t lie; freshman point guard #1 Derrick Colter is a serious candidate for A-10 rookie of the year. An unheralded recruit coming out of high school, he has found success despite playing a challenging schedule under a first-year coach.
At 5-foot-11, he is undersized, quick, and surprisingly tough, but VCU is ready. The Rams have played four straight games against opponents with point guards 6-foot or shorter. The shortest player on the Ram’s lineup is Rob Brandenberg at 6-foot-2, but the Ram’s length usually allows them to play bigger on the perimeter than their height.
The bottom line: VCU loves freshmen point guards. Derrick Colter is good, and he will definitely find success in the A-10 over the next 3.5 years, but HAVOC! is a tall order for an 18-year-old.
#32 Sean Johnson (G, Senior) — Duquesne will need a confident senior performance from the 1,000 point career scoring senior. He has a fast trigger and he will take plenty of 3-pointers.
#23 Jeremiah Jones (G, Freshman) — The Duke’s second starting freshman, Jones is the second most efficient scorer behind Johnson. He doesn’t have any standout strength, but he also doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses.
#0 Andre Marhold (F, Senior) — Box this guy out! VCU’s front court needs to be extremely disciplined about keeping Marhold off of the offensive glass. Second chance baskets not only give VCU’s opponents points, but they limit the Ram’s ability to score in transition.
#22 Kadeem Pantophlet (F, Sophomore) — At 6-foot-7, Pantophet is the Duke’s tallest major contributor. Reddic, Graham, and even HalGuesTuoyo all have the strength and length to take advantage of the sophomore.
VCU has more talent, more size, more experience, and more chemistry than Duquesne. KenPom picks VCU to win 82-64 with a 93% chance of victory.
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- Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Enrollment: 10,363
- All time series: N/A
- Last meeting: N/A
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