Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.
What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.
Gotta have it list-topper: Better Shooting with Help from “Havoc”
Virginia Commonwealth’s ability to shoot well from the floor is typically tied to the effectiveness of the “Havoc” defense that they play. If the Rams are able to force turnovers, that allows them to work in transition and score when the defense is scattered. In VCU’s three losses, they have shot 34.7, 33.3, and 41.5 percent from the floor against Wichita State, Duke, and Missouri, respectively. In those games, the Rams only averaged close to 10 turnovers forced per game.
Compare that to a win over Alabama, when VCU forced 16 turnovers and shot 47 percent from the floor. Or when they forced 25 turnovers vs. Longwood and shot 51 percent from the floor. It’s not a foolproof correlation, but it naturally follows that if VCU is able to force turnovers, it allows Smart’s team to get high-percentage baskets in transition
Stocking stuffer: Rebounding
Aside from Juvonte Reddic’s 7.3 rebounds per game, the Ram do not feature any other big-time rebounders. Treveon Graham has a solid 5.2 rebounds per game as a guard, but the patchwork on the boards has VCU ranked 178th in the country in that category. VCU actually out-rebounded Duke in its loss, but was severely beaten on the glass by Missouri, which could have been the deciding factor in that close loss. With “Havoc” in place, rebounding becomes less of a priority, but it never hurts against larger teams.
Planning on re-gifting: Doubts About the A-10
What a better thing to regift than something you don’t need anymore? With Virginia Commonwealth beating Alabama and Memphis, then challenging Duke and Missouri, there should be little doubt about this team’s ability to step up from the CAA and compete in the A-10. Its counterpart, Butler, is also likely to regift these doubts after its win over then-No. 1 and undefeated Indiana. Defense will be the engine behind this VCU attack and, though there are some strong teams in the league, the Rams will be right up there.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_