You know that you school has earned the respect of the committee when your team not only lost in the conference championship game but also lost in the regular season to the same team (Saint Joseph’s) and yet still received a 5 seed while Saint Josephs received a 10 seed. There is something to be said for recent success and Coach Shaka Smart has had a lot of it over the past few years. He has had several opportunities to leave VCU for more money at “bigger” schools and has remained loyal to the school that gave him his first chance. The school has also stepped up and increased his salary far beyond the rate that most coaches at schools the size of VCU pay. Stephen F Austin is the 12th seed that has been notorious for pulling off upsets. They are also 32-2 and it doesn’t matter what conference they come from or who they played any team with 32 wins is a force to be reckoned with. Especially when you consider that they have won 27 games in a row and most of them were not even close. While not similar in style of play, they look similar to VCU from years ago as far as a team that looks like they could pull off a few upsets this during the tournament.
Stephen F. Austin have 4 players that average double figures per game. Senior guard Desmond Haymon is the leading scorer at 14.3 points per game and is the leader on the court. Jacob Parker is a strong interior player who can dominate on the inside; he averages 14.2 points per game and over 7 rebounds per game. Thomas Walkup has had a strong all around season and averages nearly 13 points per game. Deshaunt Walker averages 12 points per game but has a low field goal percentage at 41%. The question remains how they will handle playing against a tougher level of competition. It also difficult for any team to handle the pressure that VCU brings on a nightly basis. It the Lumberjacks can handle the pressure and break the press for layups they can potentially pull off this upset.
VCU is one of the most entertaining teams in the country and have a few players that are experienced in this tournament. Treveon Graham leads a 9 man rotation in minutes played and scoring at 15 points per game. He also pulls down 7 rebounds a contest and is probably the most versatile player. Juvonte Reddic has played many minutes in this tournament and is a strong interior presence. He may be the best all around athlete in the tournament. Melvin Johnson averages just over 10 points per game while Rob Brandeburg and Briante Weber average slightly less than 10 points per game. The team has much less to do with personnel than the system it runs. They are a byproduct of a great coach and a great system. It should be a very interesting game.
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