Here comes the first of firsts for Shaka and the Rams...it's the first Atlantic 10 men's basketball game for Virginia Commonwealth and it is, by the way, against one of his former employers about ten years ago: the University of Dayton Flyers. The rest of the firsts, meaning the other A-10 teams, will occur in the next two months. This game against the University of Dayton is, I guess, sort of like Shaka Smart going back home to meet his old friends without having to brag out loud because they actually know who he is.
This is also, in my estimation, a real test of VCU's basketball skills: Shaka Smart recently noted that Kevin Dillard of the Dayton Flyers might be the best player in the A-10. I thought that player might be on VCU: there are a few choices there. Dillard averages 15 ppg and shoots free throws at just under 87%...another guard on the Flyers, Vee Sanford, averages over 12 ppg and also shoots free throws real well, at about 85%. I got the Dayton statistics at their site which I hyper-linked just up above.
Dayton's starters play just under 140 minutes/game overall: that's about 28 minutes per player. That number is just a little higher than what VCU's starters were playing early in the season...with all the lopsided wins, though, the Rams have had the entire bench playing in most of the games since early December.
This game might just be another game played in the fifties like before rock n roll instead of the sixties when songs began to connect and score points with our souls and were beginning to be exciting. Third choice as I thought about the game was one in the seventies which would be real fun: and then I thought, nah. These teams have guards as scorers and threes will be raining and in-your-face will be more present than absent for Troy Daniels, Rob Brandenburg and Treveon Graham.
Dayton will have three-pressure as well from all the VCU defenders who lead the nation in steals...furthermore, my hope is that VCU will draw enough fouls from the Flyers' scorers, Dillard and Sanford, to keep them from ending the game by shooting free throws themselves. Another good choice is to choose to have the lead in the closing minutes so a foul shooting parade doesn't end badly.
If you choose to have the lead your players have to convince the ball to cooperate...let's watch the game and see how it goes. I think it'll be a close and exciting game.
See 'ya there!