Notebook: VCU the same team in name only

  • 03/17/2012 11:10 am in

PORTLAND, Ore. — Virginia Commonwealth forward Bradford Burgess was asked Friday to compare this year’s VCU team to the one that made the Final Four last season.

“Really, the only similarity is the name on the jersey,” Burgess said.

Last year VCU team was senior-laden and had plenty of guys who could score. That team was led by guys like Jamie Skeen, Joey Rodriguez and Brandon Rozzell, all of whom graduated after the Final Four run.

This is simply not the same VCU team. But that doesn’t mean its one that’s any less dangerous.

The scorers are gone, so the Rams rely on their defense — their HAVOC defense. They press, they trap, they chase. Basically, they cause havoc, and lots of it.

“We didn’t focus as much as we needed to on the defensive end [last year],” Burgess said. “We tried to almost outscore teams sometimes, and that hurt us.”

Added VCU coach Shaka Smart: “We have our stretches where we score really well, where we shoot really well. But we depend on our pressure defense. We depend on our ability to stop teams in the half court.”

The HAVOC defense, as Ryan Corazza analyzed in his post yesterday, features athletic guys who relentlessly pursue the ball and do their best to get the opponent out of their offense. If they can’t create turnovers, the Rams want to speed the other team up and force them to play at a pace they are uncomfortable playing at.

Indiana coach Tom Crean said he’s been having his team play against seven pressing defenders to attempt to simulate what his players will see Saturday night against VCU.

Lots of teams press, but few do it better than the Rams.

“It’s their length,” Crean said. “And they do an excellent job of pushing you in a spot. Their traps are really hard nosed, they close their traps. … You’ve got to do a great job of catching the ball where you want to catch it. Your fundamentals really come into play, getting the ball out in front, reversing the basketball, head up.”

Jones enjoying the journey

Verdell Jones may have a future job as the member of the media.

Jones, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, got a video camera to capture some of the moments from the Hoosiers’ NCAA Tournament run. He pulled it out Friday in the locker room and decided to have some fun.

“Let’s go get Kory,” Jones told teammate Austin Etherington, who was at his locker next to Jones’.

The two got up, walked over to senior Kory Barnett, and interviewed him. Etherington held his hand near Barnett’s mouth as if he was grasping a microphone, and asked him a series of questions about his experience in Portland.

Jones stood back and captured it all on video, a wide grin covering his face the whole time.

“It’s a great experience,” Jones said. “I’m just happy for the team, for us to finally reach this level. It’s a little bittersweet for me, but life goes on.”

Hoosiers win, but still doubted

Even after Indiana won its first tournament game in four years by dominating New Mexico State on Thursday night, there are still plenty of experts who aren’t sold on the Hoosiers.

On a late edition of ESPN’s SportsCenter Thursday night, college basketball analyst Hubert Davis said VCU would beat the Hoosiers because of their “inexperience”.

“We wanted to come here and make a statement,” Jones said. “People have doubted us all season. Even [Thursday], they were saying ‘oh, that was a fluke. They’ll lose next round.’ So we’re just gonna keep building and keep proving them wrong.”

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  • Kenneth234

    Yeah, I watching Hubert Davis quickly try to sound like he knew something about IU basketball as he repeated what some of his fellow experts listed as the reasons they think VCU will get the win.  He even miss pronounced Jordan Hulls name.  How dificult is it to read from a script?  This post season has really done a lot for me in opening my eyes to just how little these so called “experts analyst” actually know what they are talking about.  How do you mess up Hulls? 

  • Petefaggen

    Exactly Kenneth. These talking heads are sold on a few teams and a few teams only — and IU wasn’t on their radar early in the season. IU crashed the party. Then the mantra came that IU can’t win away from Bloomington. Now the mantra is IU is inexperienced. Go ahead, keep saying it. I think IU will win tonight. It will be a very tough game, unlike any we’ve played this year, and after yesterday, Madness has taken over this tournament.  But this is about opportunity and CTC has coached and prepared for this. And the players have worked hard. And hopefully Davis will get it right. Hey Hubert, it’s H-U-L-L-S! Go Hoosiers!

  • Petefaggen

    Exactly Kenneth. These talking heads are sold on a few teams and a few teams only — and IU wasn’t on their radar early in the season. IU crashed the party. Then the mantra came that IU can’t win away from Bloomington. Now the mantra is IU is inexperienced. Go ahead, keep saying it. I think IU will win tonight. It will be a very tough game, unlike any we’ve played this year, and after yesterday, Madness has taken over this tournament.  But this is about opportunity and CTC has coached and prepared for this. And the players have worked hard. And hopefully Davis will get it right. Hey Hubert, it’s H-U-L-L-S! Go Hoosiers!

  • Geoff_85

    He also had a very intelligent regarding why Wisconsin would lose to Vanderbilt, “Wisconsin can’t score. Vanderbilt can score and that’s why I think they’ll win.” Bro, I know that Wisconsin doesn’t typically score 80 points in a game, but what you just said was really stupid. He didn’t even bring up defense like it’s the damn NBA or something. Even if you’re really pressed for time, you can come up with something better than that terrible analysis. Off the top of my head – “Wisconsin just doesn’t have the offensive firepower that Vandy has. However if they can score like they did against Montana, with the way they play defense, they have a good chance in this one.” By the way, they didn’t pick any Big Ten teams to win today. The espn analysts that I saw have Gonzaga over OSU, Vandy over Wisc, VCU over IU. Then again, they only had MSU and OSU advancing in the “Second Round”, so whatever.

  • DFresh

    Amen…these so called analysts know a lot less than you think. During the IU-NMS postagem they discussed how well Hulls filled in for Verdell at the point. Huh? Anyone who’s seen any 10 minutes of IU hoops this year (or last) would know Jordy’s our primary PG.

  • DarkSouth

    I’ve watch a lot of VCU as a guy on staff there is a friend. The pressure they bring us as much a mental attack as a physical one.

    If they get into ballhandlers early even good ones start to rush. They get a little of that panic feeling in the pit of their stomach. Doubt creeps in and the ball becomes a “hot potato” (like in the kids game, they get careless tossing the ball just to get rid if it). Things can snowball very quickly.

    I think IU will handle it relatively well but this is one I really wish we had Verdell for. 6’5″ guards are tougher to press than guys who can’t see over the trap.

  • Petefaggen

    It is clear these analysts do not respect the Big Ten. It is not “sexy” like the ACC or SEC. The only B1G team I didn’t think would win last night was Michigan (I can’t stand the Wolverines and thought they were overrated all year long.). I picked Ohio. But after that, the B1G has proven itself. We need to quiet all of these doubters once and for all. The B1G ball has the best players with the best coaches. That said, tonight’s game will be a war. VCU won’t be scared at all. Why should they be? This is the tourney. But, they haven’t played a team as good as Indiana all year. And apparently, these talking-heads haven’t seen IU play either.

  • Petefaggen

    It is clear these analysts do not respect the Big Ten. It is not “sexy” like the ACC or SEC. The only B1G team I didn’t think would win last night was Michigan (I can’t stand the Wolverines and thought they were overrated all year long.). I picked Ohio. But after that, the B1G has proven itself. We need to quiet all of these doubters once and for all. The B1G ball has the best players with the best coaches. That said, tonight’s game will be a war. VCU won’t be scared at all. Why should they be? This is the tourney. But, they haven’t played a team as good as Indiana all year. And apparently, these talking-heads haven’t seen IU play either.

  • Bucky

    Off Topic (Recruiting):

    I got to watch Luke Fischer play last night.  His team won 81-43 to advance to the state final.  They are a very well-coached team.  Fischer had 10 points (5-10 fg) and 6 rebounds.  Good passer, shoots with either hand.  Very thin, and not dynamic, but bigs take longer to get there.  He has very good teammates, and he’s not the best player on his team.  The game opened with a slam dunk 3 seconds after the opening tip (a set play).  Tip-pass-slam.  I really can’t emphasize enough how well-coached they are.  That will help Fischer a lot. 

    Another possible name to watch:  6’9″ freshman Diamond Stone of Whitefish Bay.  In his game, he had 15 points, 15 rebounds, 14 blocks.  Whitefish Bay is only 15 miles from Germantown (Fischer’s school), so I’m sure Crean knows about him.    

  • IUJeff

    Good luck speeding IU up. We already want to run. It does not matter what style IU plays tonight, I see a W tonight and almost a week to prepare for a sweet 16 game next Friday. 

    IU will be as good defensively as VCU and will blow their doors off on O. 

  • IUeconAlum

    Those Duke/UNC losers on ESPN just don’t want IU to win another championship. Well it’s going to happen. Basketball is life in Indiana. IU needs to give it to VCU like they haven’t gave it to anybody all year. Make them eat their disrespect. If the Hoosiers make it Atlanta, Hoosier nation will be down there raising hell 🙂

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    I think the best pressure ball handler on the team is D.Moore ..Hulls and V.O. have proven to be turnover machines under traps and full court pressure and I’m not sold on the freshman getting it done(Remy) like many on this site are. Moore can break the press and get Cody and wings good looks….

  • MillaRed

    The brackets these guys fill out are just as ugly as ours. They get paid to get up there and sound like they know more than we do. The reality is they just scratched off Duke and Missouri like I did last night.

  • MillaRed

    We need to show patience against this press. We will turn it over a few times and that’s fine. As the game moves along they will get more comfortable.

    If we can break the press expect Roth, Jordy and Derek to let those 3’s fly. I think this will a key to winning this game. Hitting those 3’s in transition.

    If the press gives us major issues, do not be surprised in Danny Moore is in there to help break it down. Wouldn’t surprise me at all. I also think Will is a key to getting the ball up the court and attacking the press.

    Attack the press!

  • Kenneth234

    Ball handling and poise will be key on offense.  But I actually think that just as important as taking care of the ball will be, getting back in transition, even after made baskets, in order to force VCU into a half court game is a major key.  Another aspect is challenging shots and securing rebounds to keep them from setting up their press is just as important.  I have a concern about the pick and roll game as well. 

    There is no doubt VCU is a tough matchup for anyone, but they are certainly capable of getting beat by this Hoosier sqaud.  We don’t have 5 pg qaulity ball handlers, but we certainly have a lot of guys that are capable of making a good pass and helping break the press.  Probably more guys who are capable of contributing than anyone they have faced since entering conference play.  I would be surprised if Wichita was not the best team (yet over-rated team) that they have played this season.

  • Kenneth234

    Ball handling and poise will be key on offense.  But I actually think that just as important as taking care of the ball will be, getting back in transition, even after made baskets, in order to force VCU into a half court game is a major key.  Another aspect is challenging shots and securing rebounds to keep them from setting up their press is just as important.  I have a concern about the pick and roll game as well. 

    There is no doubt VCU is a tough matchup for anyone, but they are certainly capable of getting beat by this Hoosier sqaud.  We don’t have 5 pg qaulity ball handlers, but we certainly have a lot of guys that are capable of making a good pass and helping break the press.  Probably more guys who are capable of contributing than anyone they have faced since entering conference play.  I would be surprised if Wichita was not the best team (yet over-rated team) that they have played this season.

  • SCHoosier

    We are gonna have some TO’s we don’t like..but if the ball handlers are patient there will be some easy baskets at the end of the press. If IU plays good D..and makes VCU shoot a poor percentage..the presscan’t be implemented…off a miss. So..good D..patience with the ball..and attack the basket. Go Hoosiers..

  • Kelin Blab

    The referring and commentating have been really disappointing this year, not due to the picks against IU but the idiotic comments.

    + Wisconsin can’t score….how many times have we heard that?
    + IU’s guards are slow….came from someone who has NEVER seen IU play
    + The overkill on the ‘havoc’ and VCU pressing a team….their press looks great against teams in their conference. They are a good team because they have a helluva coach, not due to their press.

    I wish they would exclude the NBA guys during the NCAA tourney, makes no sense.

  • jwcasey

    I’m from Nashville, currently live in Atlanta.  Both cities have large Alumni Association Chapters…March 25 – Can’t wait

  • jwcasey

    I’m from Nashville, currently live in Atlanta.  Both cities have large Alumni Association Chapters…March 25 – Can’t wait

  • HoosierDawg

    These jokers all pick upsets just so, on the 1 out of 10 they get right, they can say “yeah- I called that one”. And no one calls them out on the 9 they got wrong. It happens every year. They really know NOTHING about IU OR VCU. Anyway, hope the inexperienced Hoosiers can upset mighty VCU who has exactly ONE starter back from last season.

    GO BIG RED!!!

  • HoosierDawg

    PS-how the h— can you mispronounce Hulls?

  • Jmfriedman

    I just don’t see VCU scoring with us.  Their D is their press and that is about it.  Our D is good and they aren’t a very talented scoring team unless they are laying it in.  I predict IU getting up and staying there making the press a double edged sword.  IU wins 75 -62

  • Jmfriedman

    Was reading these joker’s blog site.  It is hilarious.  They have one cinderella run and they think they are a powerhouse program all of a sudden.  Their fans truly believe they are gonna smoke us and we don’t have a point guard because Hull (as they call him) isn’t any good.  Wow, they don’t know hoops at all.

  • marionhoosier

    I know it!  They think we have no depth at all and no playmakers outside of Zeller!

  • marionhoosier

    I know it!  They think we have no depth at all and no playmakers outside of Zeller!

  • SCHoosier

    Game over..we win..but I have to tell you..that VCU is one hell of a team….IU was tough and deserved the win..VCU I’m not sure deserved to lose.

  • SCHoosier

    Game over..we win..but I have to tell you..that VCU is one hell of a team….IU was tough and deserved the win..VCU I’m not sure deserved to lose.