Thursday, November 11, 2010

UNCG (0-0) @ VCU (0-0)

When: Friday, November 12 7:30 pm
Where: Siegel Center (7,500)
TV: None

VCU Athletics
VCU Ram Nation
CAA Zone - VCU

Spartan Notes:
- UNCG finished last season with a record of 8-23. The Spartans won 3 of their last 5 contests, though. 2009-2010 was UNCG's first season playing full time in the historic Greensboro Coliseum.
- Pete Brown, Mikko Koivisto, Kendall Toney, Montel Smith and Ben Stywall are all gone from this year's squad after graduation. Walk-on Mike Hardiman also graduated. Redshirt Sophmore DeAngelo Jackson transfered to College of Idaho.
- Stywall was a 1st team All-SoCon selection last season after averaging 14.3 points and 10.4 rebounds. He set the UNCG single season record for double-doubles (15).
- UNCG has a huge group of newcomers to this year's team. Five true freshmen join redshirt freshman Taylor Hoffer and JUCO transfers Aloysius Henry and Aaron Brackett.
- The Spartans did not play an exhibition game this season. Instead the coaches chose to play 2 closed scrimmages against Radford and UNC. Although the coaches aren't allow to discuss those scrimmages, it was revealed that UNC really got the better of UNCG.
- UNCG will be without the services of Freshmen Trevis Simpson on Friday night. Simpson is still recovering for a seperated shoulder.
- All SoCon freshman selection Kyle Randall is the team's leading returning scorer (9.5) and assists leader (2.6). Senior Brandon Evans is the team's leading returning rebounder (4.3).
- Last season, UNCG shot 38.6% from the field, 28.7% from behind the arc and 69.8% from the free throw line.

Ram Notes:
- The Rams finished last season 27-9. VCU went 5-0 in the post season College Basketball Invitational to take home the title.
-First year coach Shaka Smart did a tremendous job of maintaining the same kind of success that the Rams enjoyed under previous coach Anthony Grant. Smart was hired after Grant left to take over at Alabama. Smart's 27 wins were the best among all first-year head coaches last season. He was previously an assistant at Akron, Clemson and Florida before taking over at VCU.
- 2 VCU players have been drafted in the 1st round of the NBA draft in the previous 2 years. After all-everything guard Eric Maynor was selected by Utah after the 2008-2009 season, Larry Sanders was selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks this past summer. Sanders was an All-CAA selection and the CAA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2009-2010 season.
- VCU defeated Virginia Union in their only exhibition game on November 4 in Richmond, 71-56. Jamie Skeen and Brandon Rozzell led VCU with 10 points. Senior guard Joey Rodriguez did not play in the game. The Rams led 41-19 at the half, before watching Virginia Union go on a 16-4 run. However, the Rams righted their ship to hang on and get the win.
- The Rams were picked to finish 3rd the CAA preseason coach's poll. Rodriguez was selected 1st team All-CAA.
- Rodriguez is the team's leading returning scorer (12.9). He also led the Rams in assists (5.8) last season. Bradford Burgess averaged 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds.
- Last season, the Rams shot 46.2% from the field, 36.6% from behind the arc and 70.4% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
So here it is ... "OOC Schedule Gauntlet" version 2.0. I'm afraid this version will be even more of a meat grinder than version 1.0.

After one quick glance at the Rams stats from last season, all I could think of was Richmond. VCU's stats are eerily similar to the same stats the Spiders boasted on their way to getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. I think that if VCU puts up these kinds of numbers in 2010-2011, they likely get the same kind of reward.

Coach Dement has said repeatedly in interviews that this Spartan squad had a lot of growing to do and that he didn't expect them to be very good at the season's start. Ben Stywall will be hard to replace. He always seemed to be in the right place to get rebounds and clean up bad possessions. The Spartans certainly replaced the departed seniors with an upgrade in talent. But with the talent comes youth. That's gonna be a problem.

I expect VCU to hit UNCG with a Dayton/Richmond/Akron style blitz right out of the gate. It'll be interesting to see how the new Spartans handle the blitz with the raucous home crowd. While I don't expect miracles right away, I'm looking for poise and improvement. The Spartans won more games in 2009-2010 than they did the previous season. Let's improve on those numbers this season.

It's been a long summer. Thank God it's basketball season.

Go Spartans !!!