Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rams hammer Tigers

Freshman Joey Rodriguez at the point

Playing at home on Saturday, VCU bounced back nicely from its 12-point loss on Tuesday to George Mason up in Fairfax, to defeat the visiting Towson Tigers: VCU 65, Towson 42.

“They’re all freshman. They’re all freshman,” went the celebrating/taunting chant from some in sell-out (7,590) crowd at the Siegel Center.

With VCU ahead of Towson by over 20 points in the last two minutes, Rams head coach Anthony Grant had installed five of his freshman -- all recruited from Florida -- to do mop-up duty. They were starters Joey Rodriguez and Larry Sanders, plus Lance Kearse, Ed Nixon and Myk Brown, who all came off the bench.

Actually, three of Grant’s prized freshmen, in particular, had rather good games, stats-wise. It was a good thing. As it happened, his two star guards -- Eric Maynor and Jamal Shuler -- had off nights, at least with their shooting. The combined for a seven-for-25 clip from the field. But they, and their hustling teammates, played tough defense the entire 40 minutes.

Towson head coach Pat Kennedy shrugged and said about VCU’s defense. “We’ve not seen pressure like this all year.”

Sanders, a forward, scored 11 points, grabbed eights rebounds and blocked seven shots. Kearse, also a forward, scored 11 points and hauled in five boards. Rodriguez, one of three guards to start the game, scored five points, dished out five assists and got seven steals.

Grant praised Kearse's effort in the game, as well as during recent practices. "With every game he's getting more confidence."

Of Sander’s 26 minutes on the floor, Grant said, “His defensive presence inside was tremendous.”

Next up for league-leading VCU (16-5, 9-2 in CAA) is a game on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.) at Georgia State (6-15, 3-8 in CAA).

-- Words and photo by F.T. Rea

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