By Jon Rothstein
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The term may be a bit redundant in college basketball circles, but it definitely epitomizes VCU’s relentless pressure. The Rams turned over Western Kentucky 32 times in their 76-44 victory on Tuesday night and never allowed the Hilltoppers to get into a rhythm. Ray Harper’s team was without their two starting guards (T.J. Price and Jamal Crook) who were battling injuries, but that doesn’t diminish the ferocity in which VCU goes after their opponents. It truly is havoc.
2. BUDDING STAR
VCU has a slew of solid pieces, but Treveon Graham is their best player. The 6-foot-5 sophomore is an effective outside shooter and good decision-maker. Graham’s strength and physicality makes him an ideal fit to play power forward when the Rams go to a smaller lineup. Keep an eye on this guy, as he could very well wind up being one of the better players in the Atlantic 10.
3. DEPTH PERCEPTION
To play at an augmented pace you have to rely on a number of able bodies, and VCU coach Shaka Smart has regularly played 11 players so far this season. That kind of depth should pay major dividends in February and March. The Rams have been known to wear their opponents down with their style — but a big part of that is their depth.
4. A YEAR BETTER
VCU won the CAA last year as well as a game in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Indiana in the round of 32. This year’s team doesn’t have a veteran perimeter scoring presence like Bradford Burgess, but they’re more complete. The presence of Graham will help the Rams match up with opposing power forwards while Darius Theus, Juvonte Reddic and Troy Daniels are all a year more mature. This team will be much more dangerous next March than the group we saw a year ago. They’re that much better.
5. HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE
Wichita State should be commended for winning a game earlier this year in the Siegel Center. The Rams’ home floor is one of the more electric venues in the country, and any team that plays there is going to need exceptional guard play in order to have a chance to win. It will be interesting to see how many teams in the Atlantic 10 can push VCU to the brink on their home turf.
BY THE NUMBERS:
32 — The number of turnovers for Western Kentucky
20 — The number of steals by VCU
THEY SAID IT:
“Our defensive discipline has improved, but we still have a ways to go. There’s a fine line between going crazy and wreaking havoc.” — VCU coach Shaka Smart on his team now versus a few weeks ago
Will VCU make some noise come March? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…