PREVIEW: FGCU @ VCU – 11/23/19

Coach Michael Fly walking the sideline in their come-from-behind win over FAU

FGCU (1-4) travels to Richmond, VA to take on #21 VCU (AP Poll) at the Siegel Center. VCU is 4-0 and has an impressive victory over then #23 LSU (84-82). They have also struggled to put up points at times. The Rams narrowly won a low scoring, defensive game against North Texas, 59-56. Still, VCU is potentially the best team the Eagles will face all season. Last year, they finished with a 25-8 overall record (16-1 at home), losing to USC in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Rams lost only 2 seniors and return their top 6 scorers (8 of their top 9) from last season. VCU is led by a slew of upperclassmen on all levels of the court. Here are some of the players that pose the biggest threat to FGCU.

The Players

De’Riante Jenkins

De’Riante Jenkins is a 6’5″ / 190 lb senior guard for the Rams. Last season he averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. He hasn’t missed a beat this year as he is averaging 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Jenkins possesses good size for a guard. He is athletic and great as a ball handler and passer. He also shoots at a very high percentage.

Marcus Evans

Marcus Evans is the leader of this team and a favorite of their coach. Last year he impressed with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. After 4 games this year, the junior is averaging 13 points and 3 assists. At 6’2″ / 190, he is a very good shooter and a versatile combo guard. Evans has overcome loads of adversity and returned to all conference form after two Achilles surgeries.

Issac Vann

Issac Vann is a 6’6″ / 200 lb senior. He is an extremely versatile and athletic forward. He is a slashing scorer with excellent 3-point shooting (6/10 60%) on the season. He is also a sneaky good ball handler and passer. Last season, Vann averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. Currently, he is adding 10 points per game.

Marcus Santos-Silva

Marcus Santos-Silva is the lead big man for the Rams. He possesses very unique size at 6’7″ / 250 lbs. Last year he ended up with 10 points and 7 rebounds per game. So far, the junior has upped his averages to 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists. Santos-Silva is an excellent rebounder and passer from the post. He also has very quick feet for his size.

Vince Williams

Vince Williams is another player that can break out at any moment. He is a 6’6″ / 210 lb sophomore. As a freshman, he played in every contest and finished the season with 5 points and 3 rebounds per game. Currently, he averages 7 points and 4 rebounds. Williams uses his unique size and athleticism to get open and show off his solid shooting and sneaky-good 3-point shot.

Mike’L Simms

Mike’L Simms is another unique body for the Rams. He is a 6’5″ / 210 lb senior. As a junior, he proved to be a reliable threat off the bench for the Rams, averaging 5 points and 2 rebounds per game. His size and versatility allow him to play as a combo G/F. This year he has taken on a starting role and is averaging 6 points and 2 rebounds.

Nah’shon Hyland

BeNah’shon Hyland is a highly touted freshman guard. He stands at 6’3″ / 165.  He is a good shooter and overall scorer. When given the chance, this season, he has shown that he can compete at the D-I level. Currently he averages 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists, in limited action.

Matchups

Guards

VCU has size, experience, and athleticism in the backcourt. Simms, Jenkins, and Evans each have their own styles that make any one of them a threat to go off in any game. Our Eagles continue to be led by sophomores Zach Scott and Caleb Catto. Last game they were helped tremendously by junior point guard, Jalen Warren. Sam Gagliardi also seems to be finding his niche on the team as a real “3 and D” guy. VCU clearly has the advantage here with their abundance of experience and proven success. But this FGCU backcourt is gelling right before our eyes.

Forwards

VCU has one of the smaller frontcourts in D-I ball. This has not stopped the Rams from being formidable down low. Santos-Silva is an imposing presence in the paint and a difficult body for any team to deal with. Guys like Williams and Vann stand at only 6’6″ but possess elite length and athleticism that they know how to use effectively. FGCU has the size advantage with Justus Rainwater, Dakota Rivers, and Qwanzi Samuels. Rivers and Rainwater (band name?) have improved their rebounding and overall efficiency as of late. Again, VCU has the obvious advantage here as they have had success before and look to be a strong group. But FGCU’s improvement is undeniable. This will be a great test to see just how far these FGCU bigs have come in the early part of the season.

Outlook

FGCU got a much needed win against FAU and will look to carry the confidence boost into a tough VCU environment. The outside world obviously doesn’t expect the Eagles to offer much resistance against the Rams, but the team believes they can. As long as they maintain that belief, they will always have that puncher’s chance of earning the upset.

The Predictions

Elliott Kresse (3-2)

“FGCU showed some guts and in their comeback win against FAU. Their chemistry has improved and continues to build, but this VCU team is very talented and experienced.” – Elliott

88-73 – VCU

Russell Kelly (1-4)

“VCU and FGCU are at opposite ends of the rebuilding process. VCU is ready to win now, while FGCU is building to win later.” – Russell

74-58 – VCU

Dawson Jordan (1-4)

“Even after a great win, this young team will be no match for the athletic abilities of this VCU team. Our Eagles are still finding their way.” – Dawson

82-67 – VCU

Bryan Genter (1-4)

“There will be no last second heroics or segments on Sportcenter in this one (at least not in FGCU’s favor). VCU should comfortably cruise to a win.” – Bryan

80-60 – VCU