VCU wreaking havoc on itself

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VCU’s “Havoc” brand has become a well-known brand in the college hoops world after six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and a defense that has been one of the best at turning teams over. Former head coach Shaka Smart said his teams would “wreak havoc” on their opponents psyche and plan of attack in his introductory press conference and followed through with authority during VCU’s 2011-12 season following their Final 4 trip, ranking tops nationally in turnover percentage defense.

And with that, a brand was born.

VCU stayed at the top of that ranking the following two seasons, dipped to 11th nationally in Smart’s last year on Broad Street and has remained dangerous defensively under Will Wade (Smart’s former assistant during the major havoc years) with two teams that have turned their opponents over at least 21% of their possessions.

But lately VCU has been on the wrong end of some havoc of their own.

While Will Wade’s team is turning teams over roughly 23% of their possessions, the Rams are giving it right back just under 21% of the time.

VCU’s 20.6% offensive turnover rate ranks 240th nationally, down big from a team that checked in at 60th nationally during VCU’s 2015-16 campaign thanks largely in part to the graduated duo of Korey Billbury and Melvin Johnson, two guards who played big minutes under Wade with rarely a turnover between them.

It’s the worst offensive turnover percentage at VCU since the 2004 season where VCU gave it away 23.6% of their possessions and VCU’s first season of 20% or worse since 2008.

This self-inflicted havoc cost the Rams and the Atlantic 10 last night when the ACC’s second worst team, Georgia Tech, came into VCU’s Siegel Center and turned the Rams over 21 times. The Yellowjackets did so despite a defense that had turned opponents over an average of just 13.4 times before last night’s tip. VCU turned the ball over 25 times in an exhibition loss to DII Queens University.

Despite VCU’s two-game skid, the Rams currently sit as one of the A-10’s top three teams, joining Dayton and Rhode Island in Pomeroy’s top-50 at No.49. VCU owns two top-100 wins including one over a Princeton team flirting with the top-50.

With two top-100 non-conference opponents on deck, VCU sits as one of the A-10’s few hopes of stringing together a solid enough non-conference resume to impress any bit of this year’s selection committee. But in order for the Rams to make a legit at-large case three months from now, they’ll have to quickly fix their turnover issue and make sure Havoc is only being wreaked on their opponents the remainder of this season and not on the Rams themselves.

 

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About Author

Mat Shelton-Eide has been involved in college athletics since 2007, starting as a co-founder of VCURamNation.com where he covered the Rams all the way to Houston as the one-time CAA darling shocked the hoops world with a historic run to the Final 4. He has worked within two Atlantic 10 athletic departments, first as a graduate assistant in the VCU Sports Information Department during the '09-'10 basketball season, then after receiving his M.Ed. from VCU's Center for Sport Leadership, as a ticketing and marketing intern in the University of Richmond's athletic department during the inaugural season of Richmond's Robins Stadium, months before the Spiders 2011 Sweet 16 run.

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