From game to game, VCU’s deep bench consistently proves to be a profound advantage.
The bench was an asset once again on Tuesday against Saint Louis, outscoring the Billikens’ reserves 15 to 1 in a game that finished with a 6-point margin in VCU’s favor, 71-65.
Eleven VCU players got time on Tuesday, to Saint Louis’ nine. Each of the VCU players who entered the game scored, the second time that’s happened this season (the other time was against Hampton in the second game of the year).
“We share the ball like we did, especially in that first half, guys are going to get shots, guys are going to make plays, guys are going to finish,” coach Mike Rhoades said. “It’s about, you saw [Tuesday] a lot of times, these guys looked like they had fun playing together. And that’s because the ball’s hot and everyone’s getting touches and everybody’s helping each other.
“And, that becomes who you are. And I think that’s what we do. And we’re at our best when we’re doing that. And what happens is everybody get a piece of it, everybody gets to score.”
Overall this season, through 28 games, VCU has now outscored teams 592 to 373 overall in bench points, with 21.1 per game to 13.3 per game.
On the defensive end, the effect of the depth adds up, particularly with the gas in the tank that players have left late. Assistant coach Jamal Brunt spoke in January about how the team typically tries to have players play 5- or 6-minute stretches max. That helps make maximum effort possible.
On Tuesday, 11 of the 19 total Saint Louis turnovers VCU forced came in the second half.
“I mean, it just, it’s a cumulative effect,” Rhoades said. “And that’s what we do. And it’s great for morale, it’s great for our guys flying around. Guys know they’re going to play, but can play. Like, they’re players, they’re not just going out there to play 2 of 3 minutes to help a starter.
“And I think that’s huge. And we created 19 turnovers, and a lot of it has to do with that in the last 8 minutes of the game, our guys have legs. And maybe the other team doesn’t have as much legs as we do.”
VCU has no players averaging 28 minutes or more. De’Riante Jenkins leads with 27.9 minutes a game, Issac Vann averages 27.4 minutes and Marcus Evans averages 27.1.