Coming off a 2015-16 campaign, where it was Will Wade’s first year at the helm and losing their two best players, Treveon Graham and Briante Weber, to graduation, a lot of people didn’t expect much from the VCU Men’s Basketball Program. Yet, once again VCU proved their doubters wrong.
The Rams finished in a three-way tie for the Atlantic 10 regular season title with Dayton and St. Bonaventure at 14-4. VCU did fall to St. Joseph’s in the A-10 championship game, but their bid into the NCAA Tournament had but all been secured.
VCU would go on to defeat Oregon State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament before losing to No. 2 seed Oklahoma in the Round of 32, thanks in most part to Big 12 Player of the Year, Buddy Hield. But enough about last year, let’s talk about what to expect this season from the VCU Men’s Basketball team.
VCU has a strong core returning for the 2016-17 season led by the backcourt of JeQuan Lewis and Jonathan Williams alongside a trio of frontcourt players that will cause problems for the A-10 all season with Mo Allie Cox, Justin Tillman, and Ahmed Hamdy.
However, the two X-factors for VCU I believe are seniors, Doug Brooks and Jordan Burgess, who shot 33.9 percent and 33.5 percent respectively, during their careers. During the Black and Gold Game last Saturday both played well and under control with each scoring 12 points.
“If Jordan can increase his percentage, and we can get Doug shooting where he shot it as a sophomore from 3, which I think he can do, it’s a jolt. It’s what you need,” Wade said, after the Black and Gold Game.
But the question is, can they do that when the season starts November 11?
VCU is also welcoming a talented batch of freshman guards: De’Riante Jenkins, Malik Crowfield, Marquell Fraser, and Samir Doughty, who redshirted last season. The two to watch out for in my opinion though are, Doughty and Jenkins.
Doughty, a 6-4 guard, can finish around the rim and just knows how to put the ball in the basket. His scoring ability will be much needed, especially with the departure of the Rams’ leading scorer from last season, Melvin Johnson.
Jenkins, a 6-5 wing and top 100 recruit, will provide VCU with a lot of mismatch opportunities throughout the season and with his size and length on the defensive end, he can have an impact on the game more ways than one.
Now when you look at VCU’s non-conference schedule this season, I believe it’s pretty good, while I know there’s others who don’t believe so. Last season, VCU struggled to defeat the good teams they played out of conference, like Duke, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, and Cincinnati, which made it all more important that they performed well in the A-10. This year the narrative can be different, a good showing in the Battle for Atlantis Tournament, defeating teams such as Illinois, Georgia Tech, and Middle Tennessee State among others, VCU can better position themselves when it comes to seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, with a year under their belt in Wade’s system I expect VCU to be much better than they were last season. They have a much deeper team who will be able to find various ways to score and to go along with their patented “havoc” defense; VCU once again will be in the running for another A-10 championship and well on their way to their seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
WVCW Sports Regular Season Prediction:
- Projected Record: 23-6 (14-4 A-10)