Stopping A Charging Ram

While VCU is known for its aggressive defense, the Rams can be equally disruptive on the offensive end.

Ever since VCU made an improbable run to the Final Four in 2011 college basketball fans have known about “Havoc,” the moniker given to the Rams high-pressure, trapping defense designed to create its namesake for opposing offenses.

At the other end of the floor VCU is just as calculated, but on that end the Rams find a rhythm rather than create chaos.

VCU focuses on two things on the offensive end, shooting threes and attacking the basket. Nearly 40 percent of their shots have come from three-point range this year with 35.5 percent of their scoring coming from behind the arc. The Rams also attack the rim, evidenced by their No. 21 mark in free-throw attempts nationally.

“I think it has to be a team defensive effort,” Matta said of slowing down VCU. “I think you've got to have great awareness because they do a really nice job of moving those guys around and creating angles for them to not only shoot, but to drive the basketball. It's got to be five guys defending the basketball, as we hope our system is.”

The focus on the three-pointer leaves VCU in a high-variance situation on the offensive end. When they are not shooting well from distance, they are prone to lose. VCU connected on just 24.7 percent of their threes in nine losses this season compared to 37.1 percent in 26 victories.

Unfortunately for Ohio State, the Rams entire the NCAA Tournament hot. They hit 10 threes a game in four games in the Atlantic 10 tournament, connecting on 41.2 percent of their tries.

“We have to find them early in transition,” Ohio State senior Shannon Scott said. “They're spotting up a lot of threes a lot, we have to find that. In the halfcourt defense, we have to dock our guys. As soon as they catch the ball, we have to have to a man there and try to stop that three-point shot from there.”

Preventing VCU from hoisting threes is nearly impossible as the Rams average 23.7 attempts from distance a game. While they were held to under 20 tries in two of their losses this season, VCU's opponents simply must do their best to make those shots difficult and hope the Rams go cold.

In their run to the A10 Tournament championship, VCU was also balanced. Led by Treveon Graham (the team’s leading scorer with 16.3 points per game) the Rams have had three different players lead them in scoring in their last four games.

Melvin Johnson highlighted the problems that the Rams create when he drilled five threes in a second-round A10 Tournament win.

“It's up to our guys to step up with confidence and shoot the ball, make sure we share the basketball,” Rams head coach Shaka Smart said. “Ohio State has a very active defensive team. They've got a lot of guys that can get their hands on the basketball. We've got to be strong and take care of it. We have to value it, make the extra pass. Then just being crisp in our execution. If we're able to do those things, then I think that puts us in position to put some points on the board.

“What Ohio State needs to do to us, that's up to Ohio State. We just need to focus on playing our style of basketball.”

While the Buckeyes will have to survive the press on one end of the court, to beat the Rams they will also have to find a way to slow down Havoc’s elegant offensive counterpart.


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