2008 VCU Rams Basketball Preview
Last season, the Virginia Commonwealth Rams (24- 8 overall, 15- 5 Colonial) won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season crown. However, they were not invited to the Big Dance, instead they went to the NIT. At that tournament, they lost to UAB 80- 77 in the first round. Although many thought they deserved a berth in the NCAA tourney, especially due to the fact that the year before they defeated a superior Duke team at the Dance, they lost the chance to appear again in the national venue due to a loss in the CAA Tournament to a weak William & Mary club.
Sophomore Larry Sanders (16.6 MPG, 4.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.1 APG) played well as a freshman last season. He proved to be especially effective on defense. Sanders blocked 2.97 SPG, leading the conference in that area. With a year of experience, the forward will be even better. Junior forward T.J. Gwynn (12.5 MPG, 3.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.7 APG) is a solid presence and sophomore Lance Kearse (9.8 MPG, 3.9 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.2 APG) brings fine play to the court.
Perhaps the best player in the Colonial Conference is senior guard Eric Maynor (34.8 MPG, 17.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.5 APG) Maynor was second in the league in scoring and first in assists. He hit 39.4% of his shots from downtown. But guard Jamal Shuler, who averaged 15.5 PPG last season, is gone. The Rams will look to point guard Joey Rodriguez (24.7 MPG, 5.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.5 APG), now a sophomore, to contribute more. There’s a lot of depth at the guard spot, with sophomores Brandon Rozzell, Gerard Smith and Ed Nixon all offering important minutes off the bench. Senior guard Terrell Elliston is back after not playing last year and freshman Bradford Burgess is the only new face in the backcourt.
This year, the Rams should be NCAA bound again. Head coach Anthony Grant has assembled a club that features a smart, quick and tenacious defense that limits good shots and specializes in steals. They’ll play one game in March Madness and then will be done.