What to expect: VCU-Saint Joseph’s (the rematch)

The first day of the A-10 Tournament was packed with action while VCU enjoyed their bye. Friday night they will rematch Saint Joseph’s.

  • What: VCU (24-7, 12-4) vs. Saint Joseph’s (18-12, 8-8)
  • Where: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY
  • When: Friday, March 15th at 6:30 PM
  • Watch: Comcast SportsNet
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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The Rundown

The first day of the Atlantic 10 Tournament was packed with action. #12 Dayton gave #5 Butler a stiff test, #8 Richmond collapsed against #9 Charlotte and Chris Mooney was ejected, and #10 Saint Joseph’s beat #7 Xavier 58-57 after Langston Galloway hit two free-throws with 1.4 seconds remaining. Meanwhile the VCU players enjoyed their bye in sweat suits while Coach Smart & Co. scouted the Ram’s upcoming opponent.

Friday night’s game will be a rematch of one of the Ram’s most memorable games of the season. It was a snowy night in Richmond, but the Siegel Center was at capacity for the 29th consecutive game. VCU found themselves in a four point hole with only seventeen seconds remaining. Troy Daniels was 0-9 from the field but he drained a clutch 3-pointer from the corner. Facing a one point deficit VCU immediately fouled and Ronald Roberts Jr. went 1-2 from the charity stripe. Darius Theus, who finished the game with 22pts, 10ast, 0 turnovers, and 4stl, took the ball coast to coast and hit the game tying layup with ease to force overtime. Mayhem.

Saint Joseph’s and their small rotation was exhausted and VCU ran all over them in overtime en route to a 92-86 overtime victory. The cumulative effects of the press were simply too great and the Hawks were grabbing their shorts by the end of regulation. Exhaustion could again be a huge factor on Friday if the game is still close after 35 minutes and VCU will undoubtedly have the advantage.

Saint Joseph’s will be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to rest, but they will have an extra weapon this time. Halil Kanacevic missed the January 17th meeting because of the death of an uncle in Montenegro. A Hofstra transfer (he fouled out in his only game against VCU in 2010), he adds essential depth to a team that usually only uses a 6.5 man rotation.

The Team

Defensively they alternate between man and zone. They rank 2nd in the nation in FTA/FGA, which means they rarely foul, so VCU will need to score on field goals. While that’s impressive, they rank 325th in defensive turnover percentage and 251st in defensive rebounding percentage, so don’t be surprised if VCU attempts 15+ more shots than the Hawks.

Offensively, the Hawks have several ball handlers and distributors which enables them to run their slow deliberate offense while not turning over the ball. If the Rams force turnovers they win. They are 24-0 when forcing 15+ turnovers and are 0-7 when forcing fewer than 15 turnovers. They are also 15-0 when Rob Brandenberg scores 11 points. Both of those things happened on January 17th. If they happen again Friday, it likely won’t take overtime for a VCU win.

The Star: Carl Jones

14.1PPG, 2.6APG, 0.9SPG, .414FG%, .357 3PFG%

The Hawks’ offense starts with senior point guard #35 Carl Jones. While he has statistically regressed from last season, he is still one of the better guards in the Atlantic-10. At times the Rams have struggled against undersized quick guards. HAVOC! needs to rattle their ball handlers and force turnovers against the already worn down Hawks.

Supporting cast

#24 Chris Wilson (G, Sophmore) — Another capable ball handler, Wilson’s game is similar to Jones except he is 3-inches taller.

#10 Langston Galloway (SG, Junior) — The Hawk’s true shooting guard, he is their most efficient perimeter scorer and their second best deep threat behind Carl Jones. His stroke was confident on Thursday when he hit the game winning free-throws against Xavier even while being iced by Coach Chris Mack.

#13. Ronald Roberts Jr. (F, Junior) — On Tuesday, Roberts Jr. was the only Hawk to earn A-10 honors as he was named to the Atlantic 10 third team. He is the third best rebounder in the conference at 8.5rpg and he is the third best scorer on his team at 11.6ppg.

#21 Halil Kanacevic (F, Sophomore) — A quintessential glue guy, Kanacevic has a big on court personality. He was suspended earlier this season after flipping off the crowd against Villanova. When he manages to stay on the court he is tough to miss both because of his play and his outgoing nature. He finished with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and one block before fouling out on Thursday.

#1 CJ Aiken (C, Junior) — An under the radar big man in the A-10, Aiken earned pre-season all-defensive team honors. He is a shot blocking force and he is also capable of scoring. He is efficient near the basket, and he is capable of stepping out and shooting 3-pointers.

The Prediction

Despite the added depth of Kanacevic, VCU should be able to wear down Saint Joseph’s in front of a predominantly VCU crowd. This is the Ram’s first game in the Barclays Center and it likely won’t be their last this weekend.

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Saint Joseph’s Profile

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Enrollment: 8,800
  • All time series: VCU leads 2-1.
  • Last meeting: 1/17/13. VCU won 92-86 in OT.

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Aaron Williams

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

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