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Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball Opponent Preview - VCU

Oct. 22, 2016

By Wiley Ballard

– Georgia Tech makes its first visit ever to VCU Dec. 7, returning the trip the Rams made to Atlanta a year ago, which resulted in a 77-64 Yellow Jacket victory. The Rams went on to play in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year.

Location: Richmond, Va.
Conference: Atlantic 10
Home arena: E.J. Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center (7,637)
2015-16 Record: 25-11 overall, 14-4 in A-10 (T-1st), 38th in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: lost to Oklahoma in round of 32 in NCAA Tournament, 85-81
NCAA Postseason Appearances: 15 (last in 2016)
All-time series record: Georgia Tech leads 2-0 (first meeting on 12/29/2003)
Head coach: Will Wade (entering 2nd season, 25-11)
Starters returning/lost: 3/2
Top scorer returning: JeQuan Lewis (11.3)
Top rebounder returning: Justin Tillman (6.1)

Quick preview for 2016-17

VCU has reached the NCAA Tournament in six consecutive seasons. Only five schools (Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Wisconsin) have longer active stretches. In 2016-17, the Rams return three starters in JeQuan Lewis, Johnny Williams and A-10 All-Defense selection, Mo Alie-Cox. VCU also returns their sixth man, Doug Brooks, who led the team with 69 steals and ranked 42nd nationally in steals per game despite playing less than 17 minutes per game. As a unit, VCU ranked ninth nationally in turnover margin. Of course, this is typical given VCU’s trademarked – yes, literally trademarked at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as of 2012 – HAVOC style of play. Shaka Smart’s coined phrase and Will Wade’s game-changing tool, HAVOC is described as a fast-paced and high pressure defense. Although the Rams identity may be in their aggressive defense, it doesn’t end there. VCU ranked second in the A-10 in scoring at 77.2 points per game.

Quick recap of 2015-16

An air of uncertainty hung over the VCU program following the departure of local legend Shaka Smart to Texas. At only 32 years of age, Will Wade took over as head coach with a streak of five consecutive NCAA tournament berths on the line. Wade’s Rams struggled through the non-conference schedule sitting at 5-5 through the season’s first ten games. But VCU found their rhythm just in time for Atlantic 10 play. By season’s end, VCU had a 15-2 home record and a 14-4 conference mark, good enough to tie for a first place finish. In the conference tournament, St. Joseph’s got the better of the Rams in the championship game, but both teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament. In the first round, VCU toppled Oregon State, thanks to 20-point efforts from Lewis and Alie-Cox. With a Sweet 16 berth hanging in the balance, Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners outlasted VCU, 85-81.

Greatest Program Accomplishment

2011 Final Four – The month of March and college basketball, together, have constructed an iconic brand. Teams like the 2011 Rams are the reason that identity is so strong. A little over five years ago, VCU entered the national tournament having lost five of their last eight. After surviving their “First Four” date with Southern California, the Cinderella Rams downed perennial powers Georgetown and Kansas while squeaking past FSU in an overtime thriller. All told, four of VCU’s five tournament wins were decided by double digits. The magical run ended with a 70-62 loss to the Butler Bulldogs in the national semifinals. VCU became just the third 11th-seed to reach the Final Four in Division-I history. Previously, the Rams had never made it past the second round of the tournament

Greatest player in program history

Eric Maynor (2005-09) – A Raeford, N.C. native, Maynor is VCU’s all-time leader in points (1,953), assists (674), and made free throws (503). He averaged 15 points and 5.2 assists over the course of his four-year career. In his senior year, he averaged 22.4 points per game, led VCU to its second Colonial title during his career, and helped the Rams make it to the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Maynor went on to graduate from VCU with a degree in sports management. After college, he was drafted 20th overall by the Utah Jazz and became the first Ram ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. During his five seasons in the NBA, Maynor played for six different teams, scored over 1,000 points (4.3 ppg) and dished out 760 assists (2.8 apg). Currently, he is playing professionally overseas for an Italian basketball club.

Place to visit on campus or in the city

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond – One of the top museums in the country, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was built in 1932 and opened to the public four years later. The museum has art works from a plethora of periods and cultures, including African, American, East Asian, European, English, Ancient and Modern. Admission to the museum is free, as it is one of the first museums in the American South operated by state funds. The museum has its origins from a 1919 donation of 50 paintings to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Judge John Barton Payne, a native Virginian, made the donation. In 2011, the VMFA was chosen as one of seven museums around the world to display 176 paintings from Pablo Picasso’s personal collection.

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its first year under head coach Josh Pastner. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won three ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993), played in the NCAA Tournament 16 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram.

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