George Washington-VCU preview: A-10 battle at 7

George Washington-VCU preview: A-10 battle at 7
January 14, 2014, 11:00 am
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Highlights: George Washington 73, Georgia 55

Matchup: George Washington (11-3; 1-1 Atlantic 10) vs. VCU (11-3, 1-0)

When: Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.

Where: Washington, D.C., Smith Center

Broadcast: TV - CBSSN; Radio - 1500 AM.

Last time out: Kevin Larsen scored 17 points as the Colonials led by 24 points at halftime and 32 in the second half en route to 69-56 win over Rhode Island. GW improved to 8-0 at home.

History: The Rams are 4-0 in the series including three wins in the past four seasons. Tuesday's game will be VCU's first visit to Foggy Bottom.

KenPom: George Washington 56, VCU 27

RPI: George Washington 27, VCU 51

Coaches: George Washington - Mike Lonergan; VCU - Shaka Smart

Leaders: GW - Scoring (Maurice Creek, 14.8), Rebounding (Isaiah Armwood, 7.9), Assists (Joe McDonald, 3.9); VCU - Scoring (Treveon Graham, 15.7), Rebounding (Juvonte Reddic, 7.7), Assists (Briante Weber, 4.3)


*GW's home dominance versus VCU's "Havoc" defense; The Colonials are 8-0 at the Smith Center while the Rams lead the country in turnover margin.

*Lonergan brings star guard Patricio Garino off the bench because star guard Patricio Garino says so

*New D.C. themed jerseys to match Smith Center's iconic court

How deep do you go: Because Joe McDonald is more of a "full back football player" type point guard, according to coach Mike Lonergan, the Colonials will need to pass their way past VCU's relentless full court pressure rather than dribbling through it. That means ideally Lonergan uses players comfortable with the ball in their hands: McDonald, fellow guards Maurice Creek, Patricio Garino and Kethan Savage plus big men Kevin Larsen and Isaiah Armwood. Beyond that it gets shakier. Deep reserve guard Miguel Cartagena has enough slippery in his game to see more minutes than usual while 3-point shooter Nemanja Mikic's suspect handle could keep him next to Lonergan on the bench. If Armwood or Larsen pick up fouls, well, let's not go there. But players also pay a physical price against the constant pressure so Lonergan will need to sub often or use his timeouts for rest more than strategic purposes. 

VCU: Rather than another look at the Rams' vaunted 'Havoc' defense, we highlight VCU's top scorer. Forward Trevon Graham (St. Mary's Ryken H.S.) has the power to produce inside, the range to drop buckets from beyond the 3-point arc and the consistent knack for reaching the free throw line. The 6-foot-6 junior leads VCU with 15.7 points, ranks second behind big man Juvonte Reddic with 6.8 rebounds and is one of three players with at least 26 3-pointers. 

"That's like my little brother," GW guard and Oxon Hill native Maurice Creek said. "I've been around him like seven years now. I know everything about him. One thing I know about is he's a tough player, a player that can grind it out with his team. He's a great scorer. He's a great shooter. He has multiple things in his game, which makes him tough to guard." 

The 6-foot-9 Reddic, VCU's primary interior presence, averages 11.5 points. Guards Melvin Johnson and Rob Brandenburg join Graham as perimeter shooting threats while Briante Weber leads the county in steals per game. 

Brey in the house: Notre Dame men's basketball coach and former GW player Mike Brey will be at the Smith Center Tuesday for induction into the George Washington Athletic Hall of Fame. Brey, one of Lonergan's best friends, attended GW from 1980-82 and was named team MVP for the 1981-82 season.