Virginia Commonwealth Rams: The Mid-Major Team That Is Deepest Under The Radar
You've all heard about Davidson.
You've all heard about Saint Mary's.
You've all heard about Siena.
These are three mid-major schools who made some noise in the 2007-08 season, and pose threats to the power teams in their 2008-09 schedules.
However, there is a mid-major team that is seldom mentioned when analysts preview the upcoming season.
A lack of experience may be the reason that analysts neglect to cite Virginia Commonwealth as a member of the upper tier of mid-major programs.
The Rams only have one senior, but that senior is Eric Maynor.
You may remember Eric Maynor from the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Yeah, he was that 6'2" point guard who went for 22 points, eight assists, and a game-winning jumper against Duke in the first round.
He didn't come close to transcending his first round performance in the second round, where Maynor played 42 minutes in an overtime loss to Pittsburgh, but he scored 14 points and dished out eight assists.
Last year, Maynor led the Rams in scoring (17.9 ppg) and assists (5.5 apg).
The fact of the matter is that Maynor, who was selected the Colonial Athletic Association's Preseason Player of the Year, is one of the best mid-major guards in the country.
Maynor and the Rams lost Jamal Shuler, Michael Anderson, and Wil Fameni to graduation, but with the additions of Bradford Burgess and Terrance Saintil coach Anthony Grant can't be too discouraged.
Burgess and Saintil are not highly-touted recruits, but they are very solid for the CAA.
Burgess is a 6'4" guard and Saintil is a 6'7" forward. Both freshmen should see a fair share of minutes.
Along with the incoming freshmen, Grant returns an abundance of sophomore talent.
Sophomore Larry Sanders was named to the Mid-Major Freshman All-America Team, and ranked 11th in the country with three blocks per game.
Joey Rodriguez logged 24.7 minutes per game as a freshman, and should have a bigger role at the guard position after the departure of Shuler.
Sanders and Rodriguez lead the sophomore class, and Brandon Rozzell, Lance Kearse, and Ed Nixon all logged ten or more minutes per game as freshmen.
Last year, the Rams were ousted in the first round of the NIT in a close game against UAB, but all five sophomores gained experience from the trip.
Despite only scoring 67 points per game, VCU allowed a league-best 58.8 points per game. The Rams also held opponents to a 38.1 percent field goal percentage.
CAA coaches voted VCU to win the CAA because of Maynor, his younger teammates, and the Rams' defense. The coaches were able to recognize the talent that VCU has.
Forty percent of Bleacher Report voters thought that VCU has the ability to go further than Siena and Saint Mary's.
The season will obviously be the only way to prove analysts wrong, but VCU has a lot of potential.
It's Eric Maynor's last year to do some more damage, so expect the Rams to make a ruckus in the NCAA Tournament.
Virginia Commonwealth hosts the Citadel on Sunday to tip-off their season.
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