VCU v Michigan

Why was VCU unable to unleash Havoc on Michigan?


Michigan sent Virginia Commonwealth home in decisive fashion on Saturday afternoon, slapping a 78-53 beatdown on a team that quite frankly terrifies most power-conference programs. Michigan dismantled Shaka Smart’s vaunted Havoc defense, and made it look downright easy.

VCU had to be salivating at the thought of advancing past Michigan to face either Kansas or North Carolina in the Sweet 16. Havoc was built for teams with shaky point guards, and those blue blood programs definitely fall into that camp this season – they would have been ripe for the picking.

By now, you can see the flaw in that scenario. It’s the “get past Michigan” part.

Michigan is exactly the sort of team that can dismantle Havoc, and they proved it easily in our first Saturday game.

Let’s look at what VCU was not able to do, and why they weren’t able to do it against the Wolverines specifically.

First of all, the Rams force 19.3 turnovers per game, according to Basketball State. That is far and away above the national average of 13.0 per game. That’s more than just steals, which VCU got at their usual high rate. Turnovers include traveling, charging calls and errant passes that sail out of bounds. Those are the signs of effective Havoc that don’t show up in the box score, and that’s what Michigan was able to avoid.

Despite seven turnovers of his own, Trey Burke played under control and didn’t commit the other cardinal sins a point guard can slip into when under pressure. He was able to break the press early and often. His fellow guards, including backup Spike Albrecht, avoided trouble as well. Perhaps even more impressive, the Michigan big men stayed away from egregious errors in a forest of grasping hands. John Beilein had his entire team playing under control, and that made all the difference.

Second, the Rams did not hit their shots. They were under 40 percent shooting from the floor, and a very uncharacteristic 18.8 percent from deep. Shaka Smart will tell you straight up: if his team doesn’t make shots, they can’t set up the press. The simple act of requiring the opposing team to inbound the ball and fight to cross the time line is a huge part of Havoc, and the Rams couldn’t make it happen in this one.

Why? It’s always the little things. An extra step of quickness and a little more length on the part of Burke and Hardaway can cut off a multitude of angles for an opponent. So, too, can an extra few inches of height on the part of Michigan’s big men. Both bothered VCU, and that’s why they’re going home early today.

So Michigan gets that shot at the Kansas-UNC winner, and you can bet they’re salivating about those point guard matchups as well, after the performance they turned in today.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.