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VCU Rams 2011-12 Preview

November 9, 2011 Conference Notes No Comments

VCU Rams (28-12,12-6)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Darius Theus
So. G Rob Brandenburg
Sr. G-F Bradford Burgess
So. F Juvonte Reddic
So. C D.J. Haley

Important departures:

Four starters that keyed last season’s epic Final Four run have departed: G Joey Rodriguez (10.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg), G Brandon Rozzell (11.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg), G Ed Nixon (7.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg), F Jamie Skeen (15.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg)

Returning:

39.1 percent of scoring and 49.1 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Treveon Graham
Fr. F Jarred Guest
Fr. F Heath Houston
Fr. G-F Reco McCarter
Fr. G Teddy Okereafor
Fr. G Briante Weber

Schedule highlights:

The nonconference slate is a little like the one the Rams had last year: good, but not full of opportunities for wins that will make the NCAA Tournament selection committee take notice. They play in the Charleston Classic, opening with Seton Hall and then facing either Georgia Tech or Saint Joseph’s. They later head to Alabama, play George Washington at the Verizon Center in the BB&T Classic, and host Richmond and UAB. In CAA play, they have a stretch of three straight at home followed by three straight on the road, and play their two games against George Mason within the final two weeks of the regular season.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Rams still have plenty of talent, but this team lost a lot of experience and, more importantly, intangible value with their departed players. That means Burgess has to be the leader he’s capable of being, as the only senior, and many other players have to adapt to new roles. Brandenburg, Reddic and Haley all showed potential last year in more limited roles, and now they’ll have to show that they can do the same thing with more minutes and bigger roles. It would also help if Theus can settle the point guard spot, although it wouldn’t be a surprise if Okereafor (a late signee who was originally in the high school class of 2012) eventually starts there, and Weber figures to get a lot of minutes as well.

The Rams should be able to make up for the production they lost, but the real question is if they can reach the same place as far as intangibles are concerned. If that happens, the Rams should at least wait until Saturday of the conference tournament before playing their first game and another postseason trip should be in the offing. Shaka Smart is 10-1 as a head coach in postseason play in his young career.

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