Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Rea's Rams Report: No. 2

Kyle Guy drives past Malik Crowfield
Good storytellers know "discovery" is a device that can magnify the power of a message embedded in the plot. That's why they sometimes allow their readers/viewers to discover keys to unlocking the mystery. Of course, a little subtle foreshadowing can help goose the process of discovering. In real life, we also know plenty of people seem to have more faith in what they've figured out, for themselves, than they do in whatever they've been told.

OK, four games into the season, Coach Mike Rhoades' 2017-18 VCU Rams team has had the opportunity to discover, firsthand, something important to most D-I teams striving to achieve their goals. Having lost two consecutive games, both against teams that will likely be in the postseason conversation in March – UVA's 'Hoos and Marquette's Golden Eagles – and the Rams should have seen that summer league defense usually won't beat such teams.

No doubt, this is something Coach Rhoades has already mentioned more than a few times in team practices. So, do his players – 10 of which have only played four games in black and gold – need to lose more games to see the truth clearly?

As Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) suggested memorably, in "A Few Good Men" (1992), maybe these young and talented Rams can't handle the truth ... yet. We'll soon see. VCU has two more games in Hawaii to start proving to themselves they are getting better.
  • Can these Rams change to playing a withering full-court defense, time and again, without fouling too much? 
  • Around the backboard, before poising to out-jump everybody, can they remember to first box out? 
  • Can they deflect more passes and dive for more loose balls on the floor? Can they be more aggressive on defense, take more chances?
In a nutshell, when can Rhodes' Rams start becoming a team capable of playing intense defense, as a unit, for a game's 40 minutes? That, rather than being five guys running around the floor in the same uniforms?

Next tilt: Maui Invitational: Tues., Nov. 21, at 4 p.m: VCU (2-2) vs. California (2-2) on ESPN2. 

Update: The Rams raced to 26-point lead at the half. Then coasted to the win: VCU 83, Cal 69.

-- Photo from VCU

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