2014-2015 Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #1 A-10
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After a late game meltdown against Stephen F. Austin in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last season, Coach Shaka Smart and the Rams are looking reassert their dominance in the big dance this year. Led by their HAVOC style defense, they enter the season as big favorites in the Atlantic-10 Conference.
2013-14 Record: 26-9, 12-4
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Shaka Smart
Coach Record: 137-46 at VCU, 137-46 overall
The main departure for VCU is big man Juvonte Reddic. The Rams will miss the big inside force the 6-foot-9 forward, who averaged 11.8 points and 8.4 rebounds a game, proved to be. In addition, fellow senior Rob Brandenberg graduated at the end of last season. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 9.6 points a game and was a solid three point threat for VCU. Finally, there is shooting guard Jarius Lyles, who transferred to Robert Morris after recording only 2.6 minutes per game last season.
Let’s start with highly touted recruit and VCU freshman Terry Larrier. 247Sports ranked the 6-foot-7 small forward as the 23rd best player in the class of 2014. He headlines a phenomenal recruiting class for Shaka Smart. Fellow freshman big men Michael Gilmore and Justin Tillman will provide some frontcourt depth. First year point guard Jonathan Williams turned down an offer from Wisconsin and will have room to grow as a point guard behind Briante Weber.
Who to Watch:
The media, and opposing defenses alike, will be focusing on Treveon Graham. The versatile forward should lead the Rams in scoring again this season, after posting an average of 15.8 points a game last season. Shaka Smart’s backcourt, meanwhile, will be led by veterans Briante Weber and Melvin Johnson. The latter of the two will have the opportunity to step up as a larger scoring threat this season. Sophomore JeQuan Lewis posted solid numbers as a freshman and can continue to grow in his 2nd year at VCU.
Whether they’re considered a mid-major or not, Shaka Smart has built VCU into a powerhouse program that has come to dominate mid-major hoops. It will be their conference to lose and expect the Rams to be hungry after their early exit in last year’s March Madness.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Briante Weber, Senior, Guard, 9.4 points per game
Melvin Johnson, Junior, Guard, 10.4 points per game
Jordan Burgess, Sophomore, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Treveon Graham, Senior, Forward, 15.8 points per game
Mo Alie-Cox, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.0 (66th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.2 (54, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.0 (279, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.2 (155, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (62, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.9 (143, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.4 (255, 8)
Rebound Margin: 0.9 (159, 8)
Assists Per Game: 13.1 (135, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (173, 6)