By: Scott Day
ATTENTION TO ACADEMICS
While the Black & Gold will spend plenty of time getting better on the hardwood this week, a majority of the week will be spent focusing on academics with "Exam Week" upon us.
"We'll obviously take a long look at our game against Richmond, but this week is about our guys finishing up the semester strong academically," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "It'll be a great thing if we're able to finish up the calendar year on a high note both academically and on the court."
Next Monday marks the final day for exams, but all the Rams will have their assignments wrapped up prior to the Tulane game on Saturday afternoon.
CHECKING THE INFIRMY
Eddie Benion, who is in his first year as the Athletic Trainer for the Rams, has been a busy man this year, and it's only nine games into the season. Senior Joey Rodriguez continues to receive treatment and is closing in on becoming 100% for the first time this year, while sophomore Troy Daniels will be back at full strength against Tulane after being limited in the Richmond game due to a tweaked ankle.
Senior Brandon Rozzell, who went down in the first half of the game against Richmond, has been in the training room all week working on getting his hamstring back to full strength. He is slated to return on Saturday against Tulane.
"Having two games over the next two weeks will be good for our guys," Smart said. "It gives all of our guys a chance to rest and get back to full strength heading into the battle that is our conference schedule."
REDDIC RAISES EYES
After playing a total of 13 minutes in four previous appearances this year, freshman sensation Juvonte Reddic saw a career-high of 12 minutes and chipped in six points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field against Richmond on Saturday.
Reddic, who was among the ESPN.com's "Top 10 Freshman to Watch: Non-BCS Edition", sparked the Rams with an athletic putback in the first half, along with three rebounds and a steal and dunk in the second half.
"He was good tonight, that's what we're looking for out of him, to bring energy and aggressiveness on the boards," Smart said. "The potential for Juvonte is very high, but he still has a lot to learn, that can be seen with the four fouls. But he's definitely headed in the right direction and we hope we're able to get even more out of him come conference time."
CHRISTMAS BREAK PLANS
With the Christmas season upon us, the Rams will have their holiday plans set. After playing at UAB on the 21st, the Black & Gold will take a few days off to spend with their families before returning to Richmond for a couple days of practice prior to the first-ever Richmond Marriot Holiday on the Hardwoods Classic, which starts Dec. 29th.
IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING
The spirit of the Holiday season hit the Black & Gold early this year with the squad ranking among the nation's leaders in assists per game since the start of the 2010-11 campaign. With 16.1 assists per game, VCU ranks 35th in the country and first in the CAA. Seniors Joey Rodriguez (5.6) and Brandon Rozzell (2.8), along with sophomore Darius Theus (2.6) all are averaging over 2.5 assists per game.
Not only are the Rams high on giving, but they are efficient in their ways, ranking in the top-25 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio since the season started back in November. Currently, VCU's 1.37 ratio ranks 24th.
Even more impressive is the Rams' turnover rate, giving it up just 16.4% of their possessions, which ranks first in the CAA and 19th nationally.