Mike Rhoades and the VCU Basketball program appeared to have set the tone for the rest of their season after gutsy come-from-behind victories against La Salle and Duquesne. The victory over La Salle was on the road, a major feather in the cap for the Rams, who overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat the Explorers. But the outlook for VCU looks much different after their dismal performance against Dayton Friday night. The final score line, 106-79, does not flatter the Rams on a night when the team was a poor defensively as they have been all season. Dayton connected on 17 three-pointers, shot 63 percent for the game and nearly 70 percent in the first half. VCU conceded a season-high 66 points in the first half and had their full court pressure nullified to the point that it was abandoned in the middle of the first half. Playing against Dayton has given VCU problems since joining the A-10, and the Rams are yet to win in Ohio, but each of the last three meetings between the teams have been single digit contests. VCU’s young team was exposed Friday night and each player has to have a hard look in the mirror and evaluate themselves. Rhoades suggested his team should be hurt by the loss and promised to not let his team forget their performance against Dayton. How the Rams respond could define their season. While they were handily beaten by Seton Hall earlier in the season (90-67), a 27-point loss at the hands of a conference rival has more gravity than a loss to a top-15 program. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Rams, who face a rivalry game on Wednesday night against Richmond. While the Spiders sit at the bottom of the conference standings and have only three wins overall, the Richmond team VCU faces is always vastly different than every other opponent due to the bragging rights associated with the Black and Blue classic. Beyond the Richmond game, VCU has games against George Washington and Saint Louis, two teams who also only have one league victory. VCU can go either two ways after their blowout loss: they can continue to spiral and underperform against beatable opponents or they can come together and play stronger and harder to ensure the embarrassment of Friday night is not repeated for the entirety of the season.
About Vincent Salandro
Vincent Salandro is a junior at American University majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in Mathematics and Economics. He is the Managing Editor of Sports at The Eagle, the campus newspaper, and a producer of AU's ATV show SportsZone. You can follow him at @vince_salandro