Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Scanning the Future SoCon: VMI Update- Consistent Effort Despite Inconsistent Results Provides Promise For Conference Play

The Virginia Military Institute Keydets currently stand at 6-5 thus far in the 2013-2014 season. A consistent effort has characterized the squad thus far, while the results have been a bit inconsistent. A surprising blowout win against second-place pre-season Horizon League member Wright State was balanced with convincing road losses to William & Mary and Elon.  Despite the inconsistent results, there is hope for the Keydets as they approach conference play. VMI battled hard at Virginia Tech on Nov. 18. While the Keydets dropped a 13-point defeat at the hands of the Hokies. VMI had made a furious comeback and cut the Va Tech lead to 6 with over one minute in regulation. Similarly, the Keydets lost to East Carolina in Greenville, NC by 9 points. VMI had all the momentum at the end of that game as well. By far the best result this year, was a 94-74 win over Wright State in Lexington, VA on Dec 7. In that game, VMI shot 17-31 (54.8%) from 3pfg. All five starters scored in double figures led by freshman QJ Peterson with 21 points. DJ Covington added a double-double (14pts, 11 rbds), while Brian Brown knocked down five 3pfgs. VMI’s current record is in keeping with the anticipated results thus far. Freshman are getting valuable playing time against larger NCAA programs and the efforts against Wright State, Va Tech, and East Carolina portend good things in the smaller Big South. However, VMI continues to shoot the ball poorly overall and they continue to struggle against efficient offenses (such as Elon, who shot 57%, while attempting 23 more FT’s).    

VMI’s offense has become somewhat of a three-headed attack. QJ Peterson has been the surprising MVP thus far as he is averaging 20.8 ppg. He also leads the team in steals and is second in assists. However, Peterson needs to improve his efficiency (43% fgs and more turnovers than assists). Senior Rodney Glasgow is having a great final season and could challenge for POY in the conference. Glasgow is averaging 17.5 ppg and 4.9 apg. His turnover to assist ratio is just under 4:1. DJ Covington, in addition to the entire VMI team, has gotten into early foul trouble thus far which has limited his minutes to 26 per game. Even with the reduced time on the court, Covington is averaging 15.8 ppg and 2.9 bpg. Jordan Weethee and Brian Brown have performed well at times, but must provide more consistent shooting, especially from behind the arc.

VMI is currently fourth in the NCAA in scoring offense, averaging 89 ppg. That number is inflated by three 100+ point games against non-DI competition. Nonetheless, VMI has scored the basketball, but will have shoot the ball better to challenge for the Big South title. VMI’s shooting woes can be attributed to five tough road games against legitimate competition, as well as the minutes being logged by true freshman. It is likely that VMI will shoot the ball better in conference play, as they will get more time and space to attempt 3pfg’s over smaller and slower guards. VMI’s five road games are against Wake Forest, Va Tech, William & Mary, Elon, and East Carolina. Quite simply, VMI is better in front of the Corps of Cadets. VMI is 6-0 at home and 0-5 on the road. As the level of competition balances out in conference play, VMI’s 3pfg shooting should even out. It is obvious to state that VMI plays better when they knock down 3pfgs, however it means more to them than other schools because it allows them to set up the full court press and force turnovers.
The overall effort leads me to believe that VMI will be very competitive in the Big South. Prior to conference play, VMI will travel to Clemson, SC to take on the Clemson Tigers in Little John Coliseum.  The early portion of the Big South slate favors VMI with two home games against Longwood and Liberty. VMI will continue to have work on shooting the ball better and staying out of foul trouble. VMI has shot almost 50 less foul shots than their opponents. Some of that is due to the style of play, however that gap must close especially against more efficient teams with an inside presence. My assessment is the Duggar Baucom is happy with the effort and the growth of some of the freshman. VMI is on schedule for the glide slope of improvement that has been unmistakable in previous seasons. The Keydets must improve their 3 pt shooting if VMI will win earn their first trip to the NCAA tournament in over 35 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment