Thursday, December 1, 2011

Richmond-VCU: It's your move, Rams

The headline on Richmond's preview story about tonight's game at VCU reads, "Spiders Look For Continued Dominance Over Rams."

If I was a Ram, that would tick me off. Problem is, the Spiders have a point - they have dominated this series of late. They've won three straight meetings, including a comfortable 15-point edge a year ago and a 14-point triumph the year before that, in VCU's own gym.

Can the Rams reverse the trend? We'll see. But before you settle in to watch the latest installment in this "Battle of Richmond," here are 25 things to consider:

- Not only have the Spiders (5-1) won three straight against VCU, they've also taken 10 of the last 12 meetings.

- The Rams' only verbal comeback, albeit somewhat feeble, is "Yeah, but at least we've won more career meetings."

- But if they lose tonight, they won't even be able to say that - the series will be tied 33-33.

- No current Ram has played in a victory over the Spiders.

- No current Spider has played in a loss to the Rams.

- Spiders star Abby Oliver in particular has been a Rams nemesis. She torched VCU for 22 points in last season's 68-53 victory, and scored 15 points off the bench in Richmond's 66-52 triumph in 2009.

- In three games against the Rams, Oliver is shooting 65 percent from the field (13 of 20), 75 percent from 3-point range (6 of 8) and 81.8 percent from the free throw line (9 of 11).

- Speaking of free throw shooting, the Spiders began the week ranked No. 1 in Division I at the line and are currently knocking down freebies at an 82.3 percent clip.

- Credit for this starts with the players themselves, of course. But it also looks as though that promotion for Spiders assistant Ginny Doyle is already paying dividends.

- Back to Oliver - you can read more about the Spiders' lone senior in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch. Also, if you haven't read our interview with Oliver (what's up with that?), check it out here.

- Richmond's last win at VCU, in 2009, came at a time when the Rams never lost at home (loss snapped a 19-game home winning streak).

- This game comes at a time when VCU (3-2) has yet to win at home (0-2 at the Siegel Center).

- The Rams last three wins in this series have come at home.

- VCU's most recent victory came on Dec. 5, 2007, a 60-51 decision.

- The Rams shot 40.0 percent in that game.

- In the three games against Richmond since, VCU shooting percentages are 31, 33.9 and 30.3 percent.

- VCU is shooting 40.8 percent from the field so far this season.

- VCU star Courtney Hurt provided the lone bright spot for the Rams in last year's meeting with Richmond as she finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

- Hurt wasn't a particularly efficient scorer on the night, though, as she needed 27 shots to get those 24 points (10 of 27).

- No other Ram scored more than 7 points.

- Current VCU co-star Andrea Barbour (16.6 ppg) did not play in that game and has never faced the Spiders.

- The Spiders are 2-0 this season against teams from the CAA.

- The Rams are 0-1 this season against teams from the Atlantic 10.

- If VCU came come up with answers for Richmond's defense and Oliver's shooting, this could be the year for some Rams payback.

- But until we actually see those answers, we're saying...Richmond 65, VCU 55.

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