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What are the priorities on VCU’s improvement list as nonconference play continues?

What are the priorities on VCU’s improvement list as nonconference play continues?

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Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic

Mike Rhoades

With Saturday’s game against Mount St. Mary’s complete, VCU is now at the midpoint of its nonconference schedule.

The Mount St. Mary’s game was the first in a stretch of five consecutive home games the Rams had scheduled. What’s ahead is North Carolina A&T (Wednesday), Old Dominion (Saturday), Western Carolina (Dec. 15) and Louisiana (Dec. 18).

Then the out-of-conference slate is set to be capped by a rematch at LSU on Dec. 22, to complete that home-and-home series.

After Saturday’s game, coach Mike Rhoades discussed what he deems the two most important things for him during the upcoming stretch, before VCU enters Atlantic 10 play: fouling less and taking better care of the ball.

VCU registered season bests in both areas Saturday.

The Rams came in averaging 21.8 fouls per game, but had a season-low 13 Saturday.

“We got to ... play really good, solid defense without fouling,” Rhoades said. “Up at Penn State, we fouled too far away from the basket and put them on the line too early.”

VCU’s updated average of 20 fouls per game coming out of Saturday is tied for 208th in the nation.

The Rams were averaging 15.8 turnovers heading into Saturday, but also had a season-low 13 in that category against Mount St. Mary’s.

Rhoades addressed the unforced turnovers in particular, which he said come with a younger team. But that also can’t be an excuse, he said.

“We have some guys that can go make plays, and I'm going to let them, I'll give them that freedom,” Rhoades said. “But we also, we got to trust what we do and not turn the ball over.”

Through Saturday’s games, VCU’s new average of 15.2 turnovers per game ranks 193rd nationally.

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