Prior to the start of the 2017-18 season, the big question for the VCU basketball team was who will step to replace the scoring and production left by graduating seniors JeQuan Lewis and Mo Alie-Cox. Samir Doughty was a candidate to experience a much bigger role for the Rams in his sophomore season, but the hybrid guard unexpectedly announced his intent to transfer over the summer. Seniors Johnny Williams and Justin Tillman were the logical next place to look for production, as they were the only members on the Rams roster to feature heavily in 2016-17. However, Williams is best when is playing as a distributor, using his quickness to slash towards the baskets and find teammates with his creative passing ability. Tillman, while being a preseason All-League selection, likely would not be able to carry the entire scoring burden for the Rams and would need some of the new faces on the team to step. In the first two games, Issac Vann and Khris Lane have done just that.
Expectations were high for Vann, a transfer from Maine who average over 16 points per game as a freshman before sitting out his sophomore year. After struggling from the floor in the season opener against Grambling State, Vann broke out against North Florida. Vann improved his efficiency from the floor, shooting 41 percent, and poured in 17 points. Vann has shown he can be a useful asset to the Rams because of his ability to score in numerous ways. He is a solid mid-range and three-point shooter, can slash to the basket and gets to the free throw line because of his aggressive play. Lane was more of unknown entity coming to VCU. He had two high-output years at Longwood after transferring from Drexel, but there were question marks about whether his production would translate to a higher level of Division I. After two games in double figures, Lane has shown he can score the basketball, regardless of the opposition. His size may be problematic when VCU faces off against bigger teams, but Lane is showing he can be counted on as a third scorer. The Rams were able to score over 90 points against North Florida despite knocking down only five three pointers, which is a positive sign for Mike Rhoades and his coaching staff. The Rams offense may face a stiffer test against Tony Bennett’s Virginia team on Friday. Bennett’s team as historically defensively stout and points will be much more difficult to come by against the Cavaliers. However, in Vann and Lane, the Rams have options to bolster their offensive approach.