Rams and Monarchs, Together Again…

I’ll get to teevee packages and the like later. However in order to catch up on the team previews, you are getting two on a Saturday. I figure VCU and ODU together is somehow fitting.

***

The reason VCU won the regular season by three games last year was eye-popping defense. The Rams led the conference in scoring defense (58.8), FG percentage defense (38%), three-point FG % defense (27%), blocked shots (170), and steals (253).

Only three teams scored more than 65 points in any game against VCU from December 2 until the Rams loss to UAB to close the season. VCU won two of those games.

However VCU was also incredibly predictable on offense. By late February the Rams were a two-man show, with preseason POY Eric Maynor and the graduated Jamal Shuler accounting for half of the team’s points.

Head coach Anthony Grant wants to play faster this year, looking for his third regular season title in his three years as head man.

Three Key Statements

  1. With Shuler graduated, VCU needs to develop a second–and third–scoring threat behind Maynor.
  2. Larry Sanders had better live up to the hype.
  3. Eric Maynor had better not get hurt.

Season Shaper(s)

  1. Everyone talks about the need for a scorer, but pretty darn close is the need for a shooter Opponents had to guard Shuler once he crossed half court, which opened up the lanes for Maynor’s floaters. Someone (Kearse, Rozzell, Rodriguez) needs to knock down the three consistently enough to keep those lanes open.
  2. Maynor also needs to spend less time conversing with the officials. A crybaby attitude when it gets physical isn’t going to get him to the foul line more often.
  3. Box-and-one: Sanders needs to be a scoring threat on the block. Other than Kirill Pischalnikov, the Rams are not a beefy team; a post presence is vital.

The Underdog
Ed Nixon. This would’ve been Kearse or Rozzell, but everybody has been talking those two up, so they are disqualified. But Nixon has the best skillset to be the next Shuler. He came to VCU a scorer and is a better shooter than he displayed last season. Nixon is also a lock down defender already.

Hey Coach, What Happens If…

  • Maynor starts looking at draft reports instead of scouting reports?
  • Teams collapse in 2-3 zones, content to let a bunch of 25% shooters bomb away from beyond the arc?
  • A couple of big early season wins and a fast CAA start put you in the AP Top 25?


If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak:

The Rams have talent and I believe will be an even better defensive team than last season’s edition. Scoring is a bigger question. However it says something when all the preseason pubs listed either you or the Nutpees as conference favorites. Place range is first through third.

***

Blaine Taylor admits his team got beaten around early last year with a gauntlet of a nonconference schedule. The coach loves fiddling with his roster and finding combinations that work well together. But he was slowed in that development-his vets were shellshocked and the new guys couldn’t stay on the floor.

The result was a team that was far better than its record showed.

This year the Monarchs have a far lighter noncom slate. And Taylor has the parts.

Three Key Statements

1.      Gerald Lee is a star, but he has to be more productive than a 13ppg and 6rpg star.

2.      I still don’t think anyone on this team can shoot from deep consistently, and someone needs to prove me wrong.

3.      Jonathan Adams needs to keep being Jonathan Adams.

Season Shaper(s)

1.      Clutch play: Somebody has always made clutch plays for ODU, and it is never a big man. That guy needs to unmask the identity. The two most likely candidates (Finney, James) are sophomores.

2.      Athletes, or basketball players: Nick Wright, Bertie Baze, and Keyon Carter are all phenomenal athletes, but they will need to put the ball in the hoop consistently.

3.      One freshman playing above expectations makes the difference in ODU being a good team and a dominating team.

The Underdog
Frank Hassell. I’m tiring of hearing of great freshmen and star players and breakout seasons, and I mean that for every team in the conference. The huge difference for many teams is the one solid guy that just plain gets better in every phase. Hassell’s numbers were modest last season. He doesn’t have to “break out” or anything like that. But how good is ODU if Hassell makes 5/5 a 10/7?

Hey Coach, What Happens If…

  • Your freshman all play like, uh, freshmen?
  • Who runs the show if Darius James does not mature and actually plays worse his sophomore year?
  • You have the good problem of too many guys playing well (Carter, Baze, Neely, etc.) and your rotations become crowded?


If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak:

I’ll tell you what-this is setting up nicely for ODU. They have talent, a favorable schedule, depth, and hunger. Options, baby. Place range is first through fourth.

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~ by mglitos on October 25, 2008.

One Response to “Rams and Monarchs, Together Again…”

  1. Trust me, Finney and Bazeomre will erase all your doubts about outside scoring with the Monarchs. All I can say is what and see and watch Finney make a Loughton-Maynor like jump in his sophomore year.

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