VCU senior Bradford Burgess, an All-CAA selection.I watched VCU closely twice this season, a loss at Alabama and in its BracketBusters win over Northern Iowa. The Rams (28-6) won 77-68, despite allowing UNI to make 55.6 percent of its shots and 9 of 17 three-pointers. The Panthers scored more than that once in February, and averaged 65.2 points for the season. They made 43.2 percent of their shots and 39.2 percent of their threes for the season. So in that game, a team that generally doesn’t score a lot, scored with relative ease. UNI lost because VCU’s press took the Panthers out of their comfort zone and they committed 19 turnovers.
The Rams play the way they did last season, but the cast of characters is different. Big man Jamie Skeen is gone. Guard Joey Rodriguez, who hit the free throws to beat WSU, is gone. So is Ed Nixon and Brandon Rozzell.Center D.J. Haley and guard Bradford Burgess are returners who started last season’s game at Koch Arena. Burgess scored 17 points, making 3 of 5 threes.WSU handled VCU’s pressure last season, committing 10 turnovers. It shot poorly, however, making 9 of 28 shots in the second half. Joe Ragland scored 15 points and Ben Smith added 11. Toure Murry missed 11 of 14 shots and handed out five assists. Garrett Stutz played 11 minutes and scored five points.This season, Burgess is the main man. He averages 13.5 points and 5.2 rebounds. Junior guard Darius Theus and sophomore forward Juvonte Reddic were named to the All-CAA third team. Theus averages 8.6 points and 4.7 assists. Reddic averages 10.8 points and 7.0 rebounds. Freshman Briante Weber earned a place on the CAA’s All-Defensive team.Much like WSU, the Rams are on an impressive roll. They lost once since Jan. 12, a 62-61 defeat at George Mason. In non-conference play, they lost to Seton Hall and Georgia Tech in a tournament and at Alabama (72-64). WSU lost to Alabama in Puerto Rico, 70-60.VCU is third in the CAA in offense (68.4 points) and third in defense (59.8). The Rams make 41 percent of their shots (8th in the CAA) and 33.7 percent of their threes (4th). Opponents make 31.8 percent of their threes against the Rams.VCU made 252 threes, most in the CAA.VCU is not a great rebounding team. It makes up for that by averaging 10.7 steals (tops in the CAA) and a plus-6.50 turnover margin.