Game 13: VCU

Forum Forum Lehigh Sports Lehigh Men’s Basketball Game 13: VCU

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    KenPomeroy Rankings and Chance of Winning

    VCU (11-3) 10th
    LU (9-3) 72nd
    VCU wins 86-69 (91% chance)

    VCU’s only losses have been to: Wichita State (by 2), Duke (by 9), and Missouri (by 3). They are currently riding an 8-game winning streak with ‘ridiculously easy’ to ‘comfortable’ W’s coming against: Stetson, Belmont, Old Dominion, Alabama, Western Kentucky, Longwood, FDU, and East Tenn. State – a game VCU won by 51 (109-58) on Wednesday. VCU’s only Top 100 win came against #20 Belmont. As you might have guessed, VCU’s SoS is not that impressive and today stands at 171.
    Our only like opponent has been FDU. We each dismantled the Knights – us by 40 and VCU by 29. In their game against FDU, the Rams forced 34 FDU turnovers with something they like to call their “Havoc” defense – a style of play that has already led the Rams to 20 steals in three games this year. To date the number of thefts stand at 186 or 13.3/game (#1 in nation). Coach Shaka Smart has been quoted as saying, “Bringing Havoc is important to every game, but its particularly important when a team may be down a few guys or guys may be coming back from injury like ETSU tonight. I ask the guys prior to every game if they want to press and they always say yes. If they said no, then we wouldn’t press. That’s got to be the mindset for it to be successful, those guys need to want to do it every game.” When it comes to Defensive Turnovers, VCU ranks first @ 30.5%. That is 3 out every 10 opponent possessions result in a turnover in favor of VCU. Mackey, Corey and CJ will probably face no sterner test this year in quarterbacking our offense. Lehigh has, however, held up well in that regard this year turning the ball over on just 17.2% of its possessions (27th best in nation).

    Other team comparisons of interest:

    3 Pt. Effectiveness
    LU hits 44.1% (#1 in nation)
    VCU counters allowing opponents just 28.6% (#26)

    VCU hits 38.3% (#35 in nation)
    LU counters allowing opponents just 30.7% (#73)

    LU hits 80.5% (#1 in nation)
    VCU hits 65.9% (#256 in nation)

    Offensive Rebounding % (the percentage of available rebounds of off your offensive glass that you nab)
    LU 28.5% (266th in nation)
    VCU 39.7% (16th in nation)

    On Saturday afternoon (start time is 5:00pm), we can look for VCU to start a three-guard lineup featuring: Daniels (6’4″ Sr.), Brandenberg (6’2″ Jr.) and either Theus (6’3″ Sr.) or Weber (6’2″ So.). The forward positions should go to Reddic (6’9″ Jr.) and Graham (6’5″ So.). The team has a 7-footer in Haley, a Jr. Center who sees 10 mpg. The team features 4-double digit scorers with Reddic and Graham leading the rebounding charge.

    VCU Player Spotlight on #11, Rob Brandenberg, their 6’2″ G with a 6’7″ wingspan

    VCU Player Spotlight on #30, Troy Daniels, their 6’4″ Sr. Guard who hit 11 of 20 from deep vs. East Tenn. State (an Atlantic 10 record and the only double-digit 3-point performance this year in college basketball) and 9 of 16 vs. FDU. He’s 41 of 80 (51.3%) from deep in his past five games. This clip is from the FDU game.


    If it were up to me, I’d:

    > Start CS (A/TO = 3.57) in place of AD to counter VCU’s expected ball-pressure.

    > Turn CJ loose early and often.

    > Do what it takes to get to the foul line where we enjoy a healthy scoring advantage. It’s not uncommon for Reddic, Haley, Guest or Theus to pickup 3 PFs in a game.
    FT %s
    VCU 12.3/18.6 per game or .661
    LU 17.5/21.75 per game or .806

    > Get the tape of VCU/Western Kentucky game to see how the Hilltoppers won the rebounding battle that day. VCU seldom losses those wars and held a 51-23 advantage in their last game against East Tenn. State.

    > Put CJ or BJ (both when possible) on Troy Daniels in an attempt to slow him down from beyond the arc where he takes nearly 40% of the team’s attempts and connects 44.9% of the time.

    > Throw ’em up from 3 and trust they’ll fall.

    A win, as far-fetched as it might seem, will certainly makes us all forget about Bryant.



    Great game info, but I had to correct you on this statement:

    VCU’s only Top 100 win came against #20 Belmont. As you might have guessed, VCU’s SoS is not that impressive and today stands at 171.

    You are leaving out Alabama, Memphis and depending on what ranking you are using; WKU and FGSU.

    Also, VCU’s SOS is 71 (not 171), which was considerably higher before last nights ETSU game.

    Again, nice research.  Looking forward to a great game!




    Mr. A10 – Thanks for your input. I did make a mistake re VCU wins against Top 100 teams. My error was in saying “Top 100” when I meant to say “Top 50.” Within the Top 100, you are correct and Alabama and Memphis would be included. Within the Top 50, it’s only Belmont. As for VCU’s Non-conference SOS, I am quoting Pomeroy and he does state it to be 171 after last night’s game agaisnt East Tenn. State (Pomeroy ranking of 323). Anyway, I’m glad you liked the research. And, you’re right – it should be a great game. I expect Lehigh to give VCU all it can handle.

    Game Notes:



    Thanks for the clarifications.

    Amazing the difference in these ranking sites.  Most RPI sites have VCU’s SOS at 71, so I immediately jumped to the conclusion that you added a one by mistake.

    However, I do prefer Pomeroy’s ranking of 10 over the the RPI rank of 30 :)



    Should be a great game.
    One of these teams has the top scorer in the nation
    One of these teams is #1 in the nation in 3 pt shooting %
    One of these teams is #1 in the nation in FT %
    One of these teams is #12 in the nation in scoring
    One of these teams is #19 in Assists/TO
    One of these teams is #20 in FG %
    One of these teams is #30 in Assist/Game
    Yet that team may be a hefty underdog going in.
    Let the games begin!!



    Are we about ready to take on a team with Final Four credentials? One guy thinks maybe we are.

    East Tennessee State has lost at North Carolina 78-55 and to No. 3 Arizona 73-53 in a tournament in Hawaii this season. After watching VCU blitz his team 109-58 on Wednesday, Bucs coach Murry Bartow said the Rams were “really good, maybe Final Four-caliber.”

    Read more about out the upcoming game in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch



    Are we about ready to face the most efficient and disruptive perimeter defender in the county, Briante Weber? Jay Bilas thinks so.



    Amazing the difference in these ranking sites.  Most RPI sites have VCU’s SOS at 71, so I immediately jumped to the conclusion that you added a one by mistake.



    The RPI SOS is all but meaningless at his time of year for a number of reasons, including the fact that it ignores margin of victory/defeat.    Even at year-end, Pomeroy (or Sagarin and others) are FAR more accurate than RPI.   Sagarin has the VCU SOS higher – #145 – because it puts more weight on opponents’ W-L pct as opposed to the quality of the opponents.


    Seems we are a bit fatalistic pregame. Before Bryant debacle, I would expecy wr’d be on p.2 of this thread. Dont think we have more than a slim chance but it eill be interesting to see how we do with BJ and Gabe vs top competition.



    Couldn’t agree more, Rich. But, then agains there’s always VCU’s Message Board and ESPN’s Conversation ( for some light humor. I love the one, “CJ Mccollum meet Briante Weber” or how about “McCollum- 11 points 7 TO’s” or ” VCU’s Havoc and bench depth will sink Lehigh.”

    Enjoy the game and the morning after reports.



    When the schedule came out, this was the game I was most excited about. Will be really great to see how our guards handle the pressure that Shaka’s squad brings, and don’t forget HG can handle it well as our 4 man.

    This team laid an egg at Bryant, we’ve hammered that point, but they usually don’t lay two in a row, huge sense of pride swelling before this game today.

    I think we play hard as nails, win or lose, I think we’ll be proud of the effort. If you told me we’d split Bryant and VCU games, I’d have taken the L vs Bryant for a W vs VCU 10 out of 10 times.


    Let’s go.




    Tough loss tonight, because team played with so much heart and effort, which I think we expected.
    If CJ didn’t go down, we most certainly win this game. Holden played like a senior should and with a brother down, total gutsy effort by HG. Gabe battled foul trouble and only got 27 minutes in but did okay, I would have loved to have gone through GK once CJ went down. I can’t recall too many trips down the floor when we got the ball down into GK and let offense run through his post up game. He showed early in game that he could post up Reddic, but we didn’t go to the well enough in my opinion.

    CS, love this kid, never seems flustered and made a lot of great passes and shots, always in right position and not afraid to get dirty.

    AD – got toasted a few times on defense, but chipped in 5 board and hit a few shots, was a decent game for AD.

    MM – wild wild wild, ton of turnovers and forced up some bad shots, not the best game for MM.

    BJ – just not there yet, hoping it comes soon, need it more now than ever.

    SC – buried right now, how quickly he has been pushed back on depth chart.

    CB/JG – didn’t get much here, not unusual. CB just can’t catch a freeking bounce pass man, he has no hands, it is tough to watch. CS hit him with a beauty and he just bricked it badly.

    Tough loss, gutty effort, showed a lot of heart.



    Tough game.  I’ll give some thoughts from being inside the Siegel Center.  Great, great arena and atmosphere for college basketball.  Fans are totally in to Ram basketball, great band and super loud.  Last 5 minutes the arena was crazy loud.  That is a very difficult place for a road team to win especially with the constant full court pressure.  Definitely jealous of that whole game day experience as a Lehigh fan.

    VCU dictated everything with that pressure.  MM was generally lost.  He thought he could beat 1 on 1 pressure, but handled the doubling very poorly.  I thought CS did an awesome job handling the pressure.  His handle is really good.  Thought HG handled himself well also.  Critical to have a big guy handle pressure.  While VCU dictated with pressure, they have 2 fatal flaws, in my opinion.  First, they have zero, zero, zero bigs.  For a program of that magnitude, they have no impact bigs.  Second, they foul too much.  We got into the one and one and double bonus very early in the first half and that kept us in the game.  VCU pushed to first half lead to about 8, but we were able to keep within distance with foul shooting.  So, I like Havoc but the fouling hurts VCU.  By the way, VCU shot poorly, but deadly at the line.  Lehigh missed enough free throws that it became a bit of a factor.

    On CJ, I couldnt see the play where he got injured.  But, he was really being hawked in his time on the floor.  He looked a bit limited in the warm ups.  I watched him pretty closely and he missed almost every jump shot in the pregame.  My son even mentioned it to me and it looked like he didn’t have his standard lift on the jumper.  So, I’m not sure if this is a brand new injury or an aggravation of his prior problem.  A lot of people think on the Board, that with CJ, Lehigh runs away in second half.  I have to disagree.  He got virtually nothing done in his minutes on the floor.  He looked to struggle all day with that pressure.  He was burning so much energy breaking the press that he looked tired when they finally got to their sets.  He was having a tough time working off the high pick as VCU guards really hawk the ball.  Generally, CJ will jump over his man to get his shot off, but VCU was too athletic for that.  I was hopeful that he could develop a rhythm at the line, but then he got hurt.  I thought Lehigh did a poor job of getting him started in the first 5 minutes, got very few touches, but I think he was off from the get go.

    Last point on CJ, I think he was a little exposed in that game.  He projects to the PG position in the NBA, but his handle was a little questionable in the VCU game.  I sat next to an NBA scout, who was feverishly taking notes on his iPad while texting, tweeting and talking on his cell phone.  I spoke to him pregame at the half and after the game.  He told me that this was the game scouts wanted to see for CJ.  They wanted to see him handle full court pressure against a team that really pressures.  He actually was the one who told me CJ had a broken foot early in the second as nobody in the arena knew.  At the half I talked to him for 5 minutes and he said that in his opinion CJ cost himself some money.  I said, because of injury, and he said no, more so because he didn’t answer the question as to whether or not he can play the point at the next level.  He said everybody likes his medium range and 3 point shooting, people like his ability to score and like his long arms for rebounding at the guard spot.  But he needs to handle pressure with the ball in his hands.  So, that was an interesting assessment.

    CJ has played a ton of basketball over the last couple years and I remember commenting earlier this season about how he had such a healthy career.  It’s a shame this happened.  If indeed the foot is broken, it is going to be tough.  I would think a decision would be made quickly as to whether this is just immobilized in a boot or cast or whether they go a bit more aggressively n but doing surgery alulu putting a screw in to speed healing.  Best case in probably a 6 week injury if fractured, which puts him at mid March.  Maybe he could play PL tourney time, but maybe not.  Also, with his long term projection there is a lot more to consider.  I can’t see him rushing back and risking not being healthy come NBA workout time.  It is just a shame all around.  However, I think Lehigh still does pretty well even without CJ.

    Final game thoughts.  Lehigh wings did a great job on Daniels.  I credit AD, CS, SC, BB and others.  We limited him all day, but he did hit the critical triple late.  Rams couldn’t buy a consistent shooter all game, but our guys worked really hard defending the perimeter.  If anything, we lost a little bit on the perimeter by allowing penetration.  But, we defended well, holding them under 60.  AD played really well, CS was great.  HG was player of game. Gritty gritty effort from HG in all phases.  MM as discussed, very poor game, he is not really progressing.  Turnover city, but pressure was tough.  GK needed to stay out of foul trouble with CJ off floor, and too many ticky tack fouls.  CB, brutal, hands of stone.

    Coach did a nice job, had team ready to play, kept them focused without star.  Good gameplan against pressure.  All around good job from staff.  Tough game, but Lehigh represented well.





    Just checked calendar, 8 weeks from yesterday takes you to Saturday March 2nd, which is last PL regular season game against Army. PL Tourney starts that next week, mid=week.


    What is win/loss PL Reg Season guess if CJ out for all of it?

    I think we can be top half team still, maybe 8-6 or 9-5 on upside…will be intersting..need BJ to get going though and more CS at the 1 with MM at the 2.



    Great report 90. So glad one of us could make the trip. Thanks!

    Like everyone else, I was glued to the TV and have rerun the DVR a number of times and will again now after reading your report and the NBA scout’s comments.

    There’s little I can add to what already been reported other than my …..

    > continued desire to see BJ become the BJ of old or how about 1/2 of what he once was? A 12 minute stat line of all 0’s broken by 1 PF and 1 Steal just won’t cut it. Not even a rebound.
    > admiration for the gutsy and workmanlike manner in which Holden Greiner does his job – often the dirty work so necessary for team success.
    > fear that AD will never be the defender we need him to be. Couldn’t believe my eyes to see him paired up against Daniels in the early going and for the way he was left standing completely out of position on two or three VCU made baskets later in the game. Yes, he scored and rebounded the ball well but on what is now a depleted guard team with CJ on the bench, we need his cover on defense more than ever.
    > wish that Corey Schaefer get added minutes. Actually thought (earlier post) that he would have been given the start over AD to perhaps better deal with VCU’s Havoc. Anyway, you feel good knowing the ball is in his hands. He’s as sure of himself on the court as any sophomore pg I’ve seen. Let’s call him a “non-flashy” safer version of Mackey. He’s got surprising quickness to the board (high lofting shots off the glass) and the ability to knock down the occasional three.

    Most of all, I liked the gut-check play of our team. All of a sudden with 5:36 to play in the first half, we lose CJ, we’re down by 8 (17-25) to a highly rated VCU squad on their home floor before 7200 fans screaming for the kill. What happens? We go up by one at the half but keep it competitive throughout the game. At game’s end, we actually out-rebounded the Rams and had a slightly higher FG%. TO’s killed us (no surprise) as did the fact that we couldn’t get into a comfortable offensive flow. Attempting just 47 FGs is not the pace of winning LU basketball. But, we survived and having done the same down in Texas without CJ – but with a win over UNT – I think we will hold our own in PL play and perhaps even surprise a few by the results. It’s apparent from last night we’ve got the heart and desire needed.

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