VCU basketball returned to winning ways with an 85-79 victory over Bucknell Saturday night. This was a welcome sight for the Rams, who had lost its previous two against Power 5 Conference opposition, Texas and Seton Hall. Almost as welcome a sight for VCU was the return of sophomore guard Malik Crowfield. Crowfield poured in 12 points in 29 minutes, making three three-point attempts.
While Issac Vann remains sidelined with an ankle injury, Crowfield’s return means head coach Mike Rhoades is close to being able to fielding his best lineup once again. In Crowfield, the Rams now have the shooter they lacked in his absence. While VCU shot above 40 percent in three of the four games Crowfield was sidelined, his direct replacements, Mike’l Simms and Xavier Jackson, struggled to replicate Crowfield’s production. Jackson and Simms combined to make only three three-pointers with Crowfeild sidelined. Having Crowfield back gives VCU better floor spacing. With both De’Riante Jenkins and Crowfield on the court, the Rams have two legitimate three-point shooters that command respect from the defense. Without Crowfield on the courts, defenses could zero in more on mitigating Jenkins, giving him less room to operate off the dribble, where he can be very dynamic. Stifling Jenkins while conceding baskets to Justin Tillman was something that caused the Rams to struggle against both Texas and Seton Hall. The floor spacing that Crowfield brings will allow Jenkins and Tillman more room to operate on offense and offers the Rams a shooting outlet if the offense breaks down. With conference play less than two weeks away, the return of Crowfield allows the Rams to round into form before they mount another chase for the A-10 title.