Yesterday we took a cursory look at the VCU program and its coach Shaka Smart, focusing on what the media is consistently getting wrong. Today’s feature looks at the VCU roster, and how well they match up with FSU. Later in the week I’ll look at some film to add a visual perspective to our other information on the Rams.
VCU is another veteran squad – ranking 49th in experience. For comparison Notre Dame was 15th, while FSU is right in the middle of D1 schools at 188th. If you’re not familiar with how experience is calculated, it’s basically the experience level of your players that are actually generating minutes. For example, it’s Pierre Jordan’s 3rd year in the program, but due to his limited minutes he has very little effect on our experience ranking. These calculations – where metrics are dependent on minutes played – are a key function of advanced statistics, and you should always keep that in mind. Plus, it will come back later in this article.
The VCU Rams have two players who rarely leave the game in Bradford Burgess and Joey Rodriguez. Burgess, a junior, is a 6’6 wing who’s averaged over 30 minutes a game for his career. This year he leads VCU at 34.3. He’s the team’s best 3-pt shooter at 40.3% and its second leading scorer at 14.1 PPG. Six times this season he’s scored over 20. He went to high school with Ed Davis where they won back-to-back Virginia State Titles. Senior Joey Rodriguez should be more familiar to FSU fans as he went to Lake Howell HS where he was 1st team
Another name everyone should be familiar with is senior Jamie Skeen, as he was the cornerstone of
Senior guards Ed Nixon and Brandon Rozzell both average about 25 minutes a game, and have been nicknamed "the Energy Brothers" by Coach Smart. Nixon, another 1st Team All State of Florida player, is 6’4 and might be the best defensive player the team has. The 6’2 Rozell is another huge 3-point threat and shoots them at a 40% clip. He also never turns the ball over, and has a turnover rate lower than any player in the ACC.
VCU also has four players off the bench that average at least 10 minutes.
If you were paying attention to heights you see 6’9, 6’6, 6’4, 6’2 and 5’10 as the players getting the bulk of their minutes. This is about normal for a D1 team (they’re 149th in effective height), though they’re quite a bit smaller than FSU (25th in effective height). In fact, they’ve yet to play a big team in this tournament, having gone through USC (112),
Surprisingly, for a team that thrives on creating turnovers, VCU has played teams that take care of the ball to an 8-4 record, versus 3-6 against teams ranked over 100. There didn’t seem to be much interesting about offensive efficiency, 3-pt % defense, or defensive efficiency, but looking at height they were 2-4 against teams that were significantly bigger than them, and 9-6 against equally sized or smaller teams. I don't think there's enough data here to jump to any conclusions, but it's a nice trend to see that they've performed poorly against big teams, and against teams that turn the ball over.