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1/04/2024 3:22 pm  #1

GW beats VCU Game!

GW heads back on the road to take on VCU next.

VCU, off to a slow start by their standards, enters still in the KenPom top 100, so this figures to be a big early test in A10 play.

GW, Does GW pull off the upset to improve to 12-3?

Predicted Line?  

Last edited by The Dude (1/06/2024 6:37 pm)


1/04/2024 4:23 pm  #2

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

I see two scenarios for this game. Either they come out demoralized and tired from yesterday's 3OT loss and end up getting rolled by 20+, or they come out angry about losing at home to a team they think they should have beat and pull the upset. I am hoping for the latter. I know we have not done well playing at VCU over the years, but this year's VCU team seems beatable to me. I don't see a line yet, but ESPN only gives us a 13.9% chance to win.


1/04/2024 11:58 pm  #3

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

VCU Rams

Date: Saturday January 6th, 2024
Time: 4:00 PM ET
Venue: Stuart C. Siegel Center
TV: USA Network
Analytic Ranks: 99th (KenPom), 102nd (EvanMiya), 95th (Haslametrics)
NET Ranking: 102nd
2022-23 Record: 27-8, 15-3 (1st in A10)
2023-24 Projected Record: 17-14, 9-9 (T-7th in A10)

Head-to-Head: 3-18. Time for the annual rehashing of our brutal history against the Rams. GW has not beat VCU since 2018 and two of the three wins in the series have been at home so that figures to add to the difficulty in what was already a tough matchup on paper. Taking out that one time we improbably beat the Rams on the road, GW has lost by 27, 17, 24, 30, 24, 28, 24, and 27 points at the Siegel Center. That's a defeat of over 25 ppg in eight contests. You have to think that at some point that will change, but it has been so bad that I go into pretty much any VCU game (even at home) with the absolute lowest of expectations. If we can keep it within 10, that would be a major accomplishment. This would seemingly be the year where GW may be able to keep it close in Odom's first year and the fact that the Rams aren't havoc-based. Unfortunately, the fatigue from the Fordham game may cancel out any favorable parts of the matchup.

In last year's game (Senior Day), GW fell by only 6 but it took a great deal of effort to get the game close as VCU outscored GW 31-17 to start the second half and were up by 17 with 7 minutes to go. Not the first time GW has come out of halftime slow against the Rams. The Buff and Blue put four in double figures, as JB, BA (6 assists), and Hunter (8 rebounds) scored 14 apiece, and Ricky added 12. Max came off the bench as Qwanzi started in his place for Senior Day and had a near double double with 8 points and 10 rebounds.

In the last game at VCU, GW dug themselves into a 20 point hole going into halftime and VCU only added to their already large cushion in the second half. The Rams put up 42 in each half, shot 44% from deep on 10 made threes, crushed GW on the boards 48-30, and out-assisted them 19-8. On offense, GW shot under 40% from the field and was 50% from the FT line. Not a recipe for success. JB led the way with 16 points, JoeBam had 11 (more on him later), and Bray scored an inefficient 10 points on 13 attempts. On a side note, Freeman also made his season debut a couple weeks back at Coastal Carolina but has played a combined 19 minutes across two games so far. It has been downhill ever since he left GW.

Offensive Efficiency: 95th (KenPom), 116th (EvanMiya), 98th (Haslametrics)
Defensive Efficiency: 110th (KenPom), 100th (EvanMiya), 105th (Haslametrics)
Pace: 306th (KenPom), 270th (EvanMiya), 281st (Haslametrics)
Roster Rank: 92nd (EvanMiya)
Offensive Shot Quality Rank: 84th
Defensive Shot Quality Rank: 205th
Rim & 3 Rate: 89% (20th)

Strengths (2023-24 Season):
Opponent Blocks Per Game - 1.6 BPG (2nd) (Stretch will test this)
Free Throw Percentage - 77.8% (16th)
Blocks Per Game - 5.2 BPG (T-25th)
Opponent Defensive Rebounds Per Game - 22 DRPG (T-33rd) (GW is #3 nationally here, so how we fare is dependent on which team dictates pace)
Opponent Assists Per Game - 10.5 APG (41st) - This may mean isolation plays again, but I hope not.
Opponent Field Goal Percentage - 40.2% (60th)
Opponent Field Goals Made Per Game - 23.2 FGM (T-63rd)
Opponent Rebounds Per Game - 32.7 RPG (T-78th)
Opponent 3-PT Field Goals Made Per Game - 6.3 3PM (T-81st)
Opponent 3-PT Field Goals Attempted Per Game - 20.1 3PA (T-86th)
3-PT Field Goals Attempted Per Game - 24.4 3PA (T-102nd) (same rank as GW)
Free Throws Made Per Game - 15.3 FTM (T-103rd)
Opponent Points Per Game - 67.9 PPG (110th)
Opponent 3-PT Field Goal Percentage - 31.3% (T-113th)
Defensive Rebounds Per Game - 26.8 DRPG (T-116th)
Field Goal Percentage - 46.2% (117th)
Assists Per Game - 14.5 APG (T-118th)
Opponent Personal Fouls Per Game - 18.1 PF/G (118th)
3-PT Field Goals Made Per Game - 8.2 3PM (T-119th)

Weaknesses (2023-24 Season):
Offensive Rebounds Per Game - 9.7 ORPG (261st)
Field Goals Made Per Game - 25.3 FGM (T-264th)
Steals Per Game - 6.1 SPG (T-274th) (never thought I'd see this from a VCU squad - truly a new era)
Opponent Free Throws Attempted Per Game - 21.4 FTA (288th)
Opponent Free Throws Made Per Game - 15.2 FTM (T-288th)
Opponent Steals Per Game - 7.7 SPG (T-303rd)
Opponent Turnovers Per Game - 10.7 TO/G (321st)
Field Goals Attempted Per Game - 54.8 FGA (339th)

Key Returning Players:
Zeb Jackson (Senior; Toledo, OH) - 5.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.7 apg; 39% FG, 19% 3-PT, 77% FT per 17.3 mpg
      Last Season @ GW: 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block; 2-4 FG, 1-2 3-PT, 2-2 FT in 15 minutes.

Key Losses:
Ace Baldwin Jr. (Transferred to Penn State; Baltimore, MD) - 12.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.2 spg; 42% FG, 34% 3-PT, 80% FT per 34.9 mpg
Brandon Johns Jr. (Graduated; Lansing, MI) - 11.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 spg; 52% FG, 31% 3-PT, 71% FT per 27.8 mpg
Jalen DeLoach (Transferred to Georgia; Savannah, GA) - 9.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.4 bpg; 56% FG, 58% FT per 24.5 mpg
Jamir Watkins (Transferred to Florida State; Trenton, NJ) - 9.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg; 41% FG, 34% 3-PT, 72% FT per 23.5 mpg
Jayden Nunn (Transferred to Baylor; Flint, MI) - 9.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 spg; 43% FG, 40% 3-PT, 70% FT per 28.5 mpg
David Shriver (Graduated; Philippi, WV) - 6.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg; 40% FG, 40% 3-PT, 78% FT per 19.2 mpg
Nick Kern Jr. (Transferred to Penn State; St. Louis, MO) - 5.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg; 62% FG, 25% 3-PT, 61% FT per 17.6 mpg

Key Transfers:
Max Shulga (Senior transfer from Utah State; Kyiv, Ukraine) - 11.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4 apg; 43% FG, 36% 3-PT, 82% FT per 31.2 mpg
Sean Bairstow (Graduate Student transfer from Utah State; Brisbane, Australia) - 10.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.6 apg; 47% FG, 39% 3-PT, 55% FT per 31.5 mpg
Kuany Kuany (Graduate Student transfer from California; Melbourne, Australia) - 9 ppg, 3.9 rpg; 36% FG, 30% 3-PT, 82% FT per 25.3 mpg

Jason Nelson (Sophomore transfer from Richmond; Richmond, VA) - 8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2 apg; 36% FG, 31% 3-PT, 73% FT per 27.3 mpg
       Last Season @ GW: 3 points, 1 rebound; 1-3 FG, 1-3 3-PT in 10 minutes.
       Last Season @ Richmond: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal; 3-8 FG, 2-5 3-PT, 3-4 FT in 32 minutes.

Joe Bamisile (Senior transfer from Oklahoma/GW/Virginia Tech; Chesterfield, VA) - 4 ppg, 2.3 rpg; 40% FG, 25% 3-PT, 58% FT per 11.4 mpg
Roosevelt Wheeler (Junior transfer from Louisville; Richmond, VA) - 1.2 ppg, 2 rpg; 38% FG, 33% FT per 8.7 mpg

New coaching staff, no problem. That's the way VCU has handled things for the past 20+ years. It speaks to the culture of the program, but credit the AD for consistently making the right hire in order to keep the ball rolling. While it's true that several of the coaches hired had ties to Shaka, the best coach in the school's history, consistently having success is very impressive regardless of circumstance.

I didn't really follow VCU much before they joined the A10, but the Rams have quite a bit of historical success as well, as JD Barnett led them to 5 NCAA tournaments in the 1980s so they've been good for quite a long time. Believe it or not, VCU is 11th nationally in all time D1 Winning Percentage (65.5%) since going D1 in 1970 (they were NAIA before that). They've finished below .500 overall in just seven of 53 seasons. There's nothing more to say - it's a winning program with success that pretty much any school would kill to have.

As a result, it would be absolutely stunning if Ryan Odom isn't able to uphold the standard despite a less-havoc focused VCU team for the first time in over a decade. Odom takes over for Mike Rhoades, who ultimately opted to return closer to where he grew up in Pennsylvania at Penn State (despite PSU being a worse job than VCU). Odom becomes the third straight coach at VCU who previously served as head coach at another D1 school, and he had a better record last season at Utah State than either Rhoades or Will Wade (who has taken McNeese State to historical heights this season) had at their previous stops prior to VCU (and Odom had an NCAA tournament appearance as well). Like the other coaches who departed before him, Rhoades had to face VCU as part of a contractual agreement (smart move on VCU's part) and was handed a double digit loss, 86-74 earlier in the season.

Also on a side note, prior to Rhoades four of VCU's previous five coaches were either an assistant at Florida or the head coach at Chattanooga prior to arriving at VCU. They could have had the best of both worlds had they hired Matt McCall instead! I'm joking of course, but it's not as wild if he had taken over instead of Rhoades in 2017 after going 48-18 in two seasons at Chattanooga.

Odom's arrival will add more firepower to VCU's offense. If there was a shortcoming during the Rhoades era, it was that VCU struggled to consistently put up points if they were not turning teams over and scoring off fast break opportunities. That wasn't necessarily a huge problem against the average opponent, as VCU ranked top 10 in defensive turnover percentage in each of the past five seasons (per KenPom) but it did show up in the NCAA tournament. The Rams made the big dance three times under Rhoades, but sadly one was not played against Oregon due to COVID. In the other two appearances, they scored 51 against St. Mary's and 58 against Collin Smith and the UCF Knights. Both led to first round exits. On the other hand, while Odom's USU squad ranked near the bottom in turning teams over, the Aggies ranked in the top 25 in effective field goal percentage the two seasons he spent in Logan, UT.

It comes as little surprise that the coaching change led to major roster turnover last season but I guess it was a little more of a shock that only Ace Baldwin Jr. and Nick Kern Jr. actually followed Rhoades to State College. The only significant contributor returning from last year is former Michigan Wolverine Zeb Jackson, who was also the only player in the rotation who shot under 40% from the field last season. He has shot the ball well from the FT line in his VCU tenure but that hasn't translated out to the three point line for whatever reason. While he may not be a flamethrower, Jackson is a good playmaker and is currently tied for 120th nationally in assists per game (4.2 apg).

Jackson isn't the only scholarship player returning from last year, as Toibu Lawal, Christian Fermin, and Alphonzo "Fats" Billups III will fight for bigger roles this season.

Lawal, a native of the UK, was fairly efficient in limited time last season and posted impressive scoring and rebounding numbers on a per minute average. So far this season, he has already totaled three double doubles and is shooting a ridiculous 73% from the field on five attempts per game which is nearly 16 percentage points better than his FT percentage. I don't know if he qualifies for the stats leaderboard, but that percentage would have to put him among the top in the country.

Fermin has actually started every game for the Rams this season despite being an end of bench player last season. Like Lawal, Fermin has been a very efficient finisher inside the hoop at 6'10", rebounds the ball at a good rate, and provides rim protection down low defensively. He does not venture out to the three point line so that should help Stretch some when he's in the game.

Billups appeared in eight contests last year before a hand injury cut his season short and he was forced to medical redshirt. This season, he has played a decent scoring role from off the bench but hasn't done too much beyond that. He is a threat from 3 as a stretch forward and has taken over half of his attempts from there on the year.

On the plus side for VCU, the roster turnover does allow Odom to begin implementing his style of play from the get-go. To provide a bit of stability in the transition, he brought both Max Shulga and Sean Bairstow with him from Utah State.

Shulga was an all-Mountain West honorable mention last season who took over half of his shots from 3 and is a career 38% shooter from there. He had a stellar end to his season last year, finishing in double figures in 9 of his final 11 games. Shulga finished with four double doubles last year, but surprisingly three out of the four came from rebounding and not assists despite him standing just 6'4". His ability to score, rebound, and orchestrate an offense makes him an invaluable piece.

Bairstow, an Australian, started all 35 games for the Aggies last year and in many ways is a taller version of Shulga in that he contributes as a scorer, rebounder, and passer. He fractured his foot during one of VCU's secret scrimmages earlier in the year causing him to miss all of November and most of December. Unlike Shulga, Bairstow is a bit of an enigma when it comes to his three point shooting. He shot 39% from distance in his second and fourth years of CBB, but was a bit more streaky in years 1 and 3. If he keeps up the trend, this doesn't figure to be one of his better seasons from deep. He's only taken four attempts total through three games, so I guess we'll see what happens.

Another fellow Aussie in Kuany Kuany also joins the program from a western school, although it's a Cal squad that was quite awful last season. He gave the Bears some rebounding and was good from the FT line, but was rather inefficient shooting the ball. Kuany^2 is one of those cases where perhaps a change in culture may bring out the best version of the former 3-star recruit.

Odom has also done a great job recruiting locally. VCU has had some good Richmond area players in the past (Jordan Burgess and Marcus Evans come to mind) but I don't remember their roster having several local players at the same time. Jason Nelson, Joe Bamisile, and Roosevelt Wheeler fall under this category and on top of that Nelson and Bamisile bring the added benefit of being experienced against A10 competition.

Nelson probably burned a lot of bridges by doing the unthinkable going from the crosstown Richmond Spiders to the Rams. He didn't exactly finish last season great, scoring 10+ points just once in his final 15 games and struggling to consistently shoot the ball. At the end of the day though, he did start for most of the year at Richmond and is a good pickup for the Rams. On a team that's very tall, Nelson is an anomaly at just 5'10". It'll be interesting to see how he does against the Spiders this year after he put up just nine points between two games against VCU last season. He is certainly shooting the ball better this year - 43% from distance.

I'm not sure that I need to give a preview on JoeBam as I think we know what to expect from him. On the note of interconference transfers, I think GW leads the A10 in this category in recent years between Bray, JoeBam, and Noel all going to other schools. Bamisile has been coming off the bench since becoming eligible to play. What a luxury that must be for them. He's so far shooting the ball closer to how he did here a couple years back compared to what he did at Oklahoma but is rebounding a bit less. As we know though, JoeBam tends to be a bit streaky and we have to hope that Saturday isn't one of the games where he's feeling it. He was definitely a bit off the other night against Bona. Looking forward to seeing JoeBam play in general and see if he still takes low percentage shots or not.

Wheeler is the tallest player on the roster at 6'11" but didn't do a whole lot at Louisville last year. A few months ago, I may have blamed Payne's incompetence for that than anything else, but Wheeler has played a similarly limited role at VCU this season and didn't appear against Bona. I wouldn't personally be too worried about him because if he's playing it's likely we've already been blown out anyways.

Finally true freshman Michael Belle will likely see a few minutes from off the bench, although his minutes have continued to go down lately as Bairstow and Bamisile have returned to the lineup. The native of London is a proficient albeit inefficient shooter and a decent rebounder.

Given the triple overtime game and the likelihood that VCU is going to come out this game motivated, my expectations are pretty low for this one. Hoping we can somehow keep it within 10 points while doing a better job boxing out and defending the three point line. What works in our favor is that VCU is below average in terms of offensive rebounding, they don't really turn teams over, and this year's squad is playing at a fairly slow tempo. Unfortunately, this is an above average unit with regards to making three point shots so rotating on defense will have to be better.

Projected Score: VCU 79, GW 69. 18% chance to win (KenPom). ESPN gives us a 13.9% chance to even our record to 1-1 in conference.


1/05/2024 5:28 pm  #4

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Really well done Piranha (as always).  The thing about all of the coaching changes at VCU is that Shaka replaced Anthony Grant but really brought in his own style.  And since that time, both Wade (who should not be coaching, period, but who is now working wonders at McNeese State recently having upset Michigan) and Rhoades did not tinker very much with "havoc", making this a staple of VCU basketball for the past 14 seasons.  So yes, it feels awfully strange for Ryan Odom, an excellent coach, to step in and "un-havoc" things.  Yet as the preview noted, just because VCU is now different does not necessarily mean that the program is automatically taking a step back.  A few notes:

We should have no answer for Lawal, whose 73% shooting can best be explained by his frequent alley oop dunks which look like he may gash his kneecap on the rim.  (His vertical leap was 49.5 inches and he's a legitimate 6' 8"  to begin with.)

Think JoeBam will be excited for this game? 

Wait, there are other connections.  VCU's Director of Analytics is Matt Hart.

And, there is Ryan Odom himself.  The architect behind UMBC's historic upset of UVA, Odom was a serious candidate to replace MoJo but actually bailed on the interview upon confirming that GW would not be offering him very much more compensation than what he was currently making at UMBC.  If VCU is capable of running up a score tomorrow, I'd have to think that the margin won't be high enough for Odom.

If VCU loses, they begin conference play 0-2 with consecutive losses at home.  Oh, and there's the fact that we have 4 guys who just played 51 minutes two nights ago and a 5th who played 45 after, I am pretty sure, not exceeding 30 or so in a game up until that point.  Just not an ideal situation for GW, which is a shame since they finally get to play a havoc-less VCU team.


1/05/2024 5:41 pm  #5

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Interesting tidbit is the last two wins vs VCU came in the VCU coach’s first year with the team (Wade in 2016, Rhoades in 2018).

As always, the ref situation at the Siegel Center will be something to monitor. 


1/05/2024 8:05 pm  #6

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Looks like the early line opened at 10.5 and has moved to 11.5. I really wrestle with this one.  Based on the OOC amd Wednesday’s fiasco, I don’t see our defense being able to keep it anywhere close, especially if the Rams have a modicum of success at the arc.  If it moves further, maybe I take a shot, but we have no answers on D right now. None.


1/05/2024 8:59 pm  #7

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Impressive how VCU  is able to replace Coach after Coach and just roll on. 

Odom is another terrific hire, and yet based on his resume will bolt for an even bigger job in 2-4 years.


     Thread Starter

1/06/2024 4:16 pm  #8

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Unfortunately, this game is already looking like the 8 previous losses that GW suffered at VCU (that DMV Piranha mentioned in his preview) as VCU has too much size, athleticism and shooting!! 


1/06/2024 4:22 pm  #9

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Bamisile looks taller than I remember.


1/06/2024 4:34 pm  #10

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Hope we keep getting fouled


1/06/2024 4:51 pm  #11

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Not the best 3-4 offensive possessions since going up 4. 


1/06/2024 4:51 pm  #12

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Trying my best not to get toooo optimistic


1/06/2024 4:54 pm  #13

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

gwsb14 wrote:

Not the best 3-4 offensive possessions since going up 4. 

We do seem to struggle to pull away from teams…


1/06/2024 4:56 pm  #14

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Have to say I’m relieved with the play, the effort and the focus. Team is a lot better without Stretch on the floor tbh. That’s probably something that needs to be kept in mind situatioally.


1/06/2024 4:57 pm  #15

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Bamisile is explosive. Good half for us playing small.


1/06/2024 5:01 pm  #16

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Curious to see how they handle playing Stretch in the second half because we were clearly better for the last ten minutes of the half with him on the bench


1/06/2024 5:07 pm  #17

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

If GW could defend the three with any semblance of competency, chairs would be flying in the Virginia College of Underacheivers locker room. Let's give Bishop some deserved credit for ball distribution. Some better defense outside the arc and/or better boxing out in the paint and this can be a well-earned win.


1/06/2024 5:08 pm  #18

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Doing better than I thought we would. Hopeful. 


1/06/2024 5:20 pm  #19

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

Think our defense has been good - they’d made some tough 3s


1/06/2024 5:32 pm  #20

Re: GW beats VCU Game!

JB great at drawing fouls,even with their refs.
Need to get Garett free a prob last game


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