Friday, October 11, 2013

Black vs Gold Scrimmage 10/13 at 6:00 p.m.

VCU fans will get a little preview of what the team will look like for the up and coming season this Sunday, October 13th at 6:00 p.m. The team will have an open scrimmage to the public with refs and with a regular clock system. With nine new players on the team that have not taken the court for the rams, 4 recruited freshman, 1 senior transfer, 2 redshirt freshman, and 2 walk-ons, it will be interesting how the new guys mix with the veterans. This game will have lots of dunks and highlight plays, and it will probably not be a much of a defensive struggle between the squads since the game is for the fans. I still expect to see the stifling full court press, or as the nation knows it Havoc, during most part of the game.
VCU is coming into the 2013-2014 season as the favorites for the new look A10 and are becoming a media favorite for making a run in the NCAA Tournament. Shaka Smart and the rams will have the pressure of living up to expectations, but  this is nothing new for Shaka. He is loving a good amount of the attention around the squad and is using it as motivation for the guys to be as prepared as possible for the season.  Here are some things that will be interesting to see on the court Sunday night for the new look rams.

1.Who will emerge as the main floor General for the Rams?  
     Now that Darius Theus has graduated and continued his playing career in Europe the point guard position is wide open for the taking. The role is expected to go to junior guard Briante Weber. When Briante step on campus the team felt his energy he gave off and was fueled by it. Briante first two seasons as a ram have been know for his great energy off the bench that he has brought and his knack for getting steals in the press. His game has grown more and more over the past two years, but this year will indicate if Briante will become a great point guard. This year he will have to be careful of not having to many fouls during a game and keeping the team composed on offense. Briante was invited this summer to Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp where he faced the top guards in the country. Rob Brandenberg has also been preparing over the summer to run the point guard position.

The real threat to Briante Weber for the position is freshman JeQuan Lewis. JeQuan Lewis propelled his stock over the course of his high school career and Shaka has high hopes for him. He will ofcourse have freshman mistakes and struggles over the year, but Shaka needs JeQuan to get up to speed as fast as he can. JeQuan is a complete guard unlike Briante. Briante is motivated to make sure that no one takes away his dream as starting point guard, but he will be expected to help out JeQuan to get him over the hump and reach his full potential. 

2.How will Terrance Shannon fit into the Rams lineup?
    Shaka Smart will finally have true power forward this season with Florida State transfer Terrance Shannon joining the team this season. Terrance will be a redshirt senior for the VCU. Terrance will give the rams more height under the boards and will allow Treveon Graham to slide to his natural position as a small forward. It will be interesting to see how Juvonte and Terrance play with each other. Juvonte will know have more one on one match-ups now since Terrance is a legitimate threat on offense also. Terrance brings hustle and toughness on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. He averaged the most steals at FSU as a junior with 1.2 steals a game. On the offensive side of the ball, Terrance is described as a bully in the paint with good athleticism. He averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. He does sometimes put up "dumb shots" but Shaka will work on that with him. Terrance came to VCU because he plans on winning here and with his addition to the team it will give the rams the height/depth they need to compete with top programs.
3.Will Melvin Johnson become the prolific scorer everyone is hoping for?
     Melvin Johnson was a late addition to the rams because he decomitted from Miami during the summer. Melvin had a rough start in the beginning with his shots not falling and his conditioning was not up to speed for the fast pace playing style. Even though he was struggling, his talent was finally showing and overcoming the fact that he was not up to speed. Melvin started to make crazy "street ball" shots and started to make some fancy passes that made the crowd go crazy. He became well known for his floater which seemed automatic every time. Melvin's confidence went up and he just seemed more comfortable out on the court. It was great to see a player figure out what he was doing wrong and turn it all around in one season. Melvin is not satisfied at all though with just a good freshman year. Shaka says that Melvin is the most improved player this summer which is scary for other teams. Melvin will probably be coming off the bench, but that does not mean he wont be a big part on the offensive side of the ball. Melvin is a special talent and if he keeps working hard he could be a great sixth man for VCU.

4.Will the Freshman class have some contributors right away? 
    With many key players returning this season, it will be interesting what younger guy or guys will be able to contribute for the rams. The two redshirt freshman Jordan Burgess and Mo Alie-Cox are not your typical freshman. They were both forced to sit out last year because of being ruled academically ineligible for their first season. Jordan and Mo both had good first years in the classroom with Jordan having a 3.5 and Mo having a 4.0 GPA. These two guys are physically ready for college basketball. Jordan is considered a true talent that can do it all. Mo is a physical freak. With great leaping ability and speed like his he should be able to make an impact right away. The four recruited freshman for the class of 2013 will have to fight hard for minutes. JeQuan Lewis seems like he will get the most minutes out of this group, but do not overlook the two shooting guards Jairus Lyles and Doug Brooks as both can make shots and are perfect for the press. They will get some minutes probably, but they will be the future of the program. The last recruited freshman is Antravious Simmons. Simmons is a 6'9 250 pound freshman that will probably have to get his weight down before he sees the court. His goal for this season should be absorb all the advice the veteran forwards give him.
5.Will this team go down as one of the great VCU teams?
    Now the media is just loving VCU this year. Hyping the rams up to be one of the top teams in the country. They have to tune out everything and work hard to make this season a season to remember. Shaka has a roster mixed with veterans and younger guys but all are talented enough to contribute. The talent is there with Juvonte Reddic, Treveon Graham, Rob Brandenberg, Melvin Johnson, Terrance Shannon, Jordan Burgess, Briante Weber, and Mo Alie-Cox. So many options to go to on offense its crazy. The rams must not be selfish on offense and look for the best shot available. They have the bodies to press all game and be effective. The hype in Richmond is crazy as it should be for this talented, deep team.