Assistant Sports Editor
Follow Quinn on Twitter
WILLIAMSBURG — Rob Brandenberg says he only does what’s going to help the team: Recently, helping the team has meant taking it upon himself to put points on the board.
The Ohio native continued his string of productive games on Wednesday against William & Mary, putting up 17 points in 27 minutes. He was most efficient driving into the paint with explosive moves and either kicking it out to a teammate or taking it to the hoop himself. He took only three three-pointers, making one, and made 6-of-7 free throws.
“We want Rob attacking the basket,” said head coach Shaka Smart. “Over the past week, week and a half we’ve got the new and improved Rob.”
VCU matched its season-high of 87 on Wednesday night, except this time it was the offense putting up all the points, not the defense, as was the case on Dec. 17 when the Rams put up 87 on UNC Wilmington thanks to 28 turnovers.
Wednesday night against William & Mary, VCU forced 13 turnovers but allowed the Tribe to pile up 78 points on 47 percent shooting. Offensively though, it was the Rams’ best shooting night of the season and a great deal of that credit belongs to Brandenberg. His quickness off the dribble, paired with his mentality of being a scorer and a defensive leader, has made him an invaluable threat for VCU, even when his jump shots are not falling.
“It’s just a confidence thing, stepping into every shot believing you’re going to make it,” Brandenberg said. “Coach (Smart) gives us the freedom to make plays off the dribble or catch and shoot, if it’s a good shot. It’s our responsibility to be ready to make a play when you get the ball.”
Brandenberg broke out of a month-long slump against Towson a week earlier but has now scored 40 total points in his last three outings. With his explosive first step and ability to drive aggressively, he takes a great deal of pressure from VCU’s other weapons. Troy Daniels saw less attention from William & Mary defenders on the perimeter, and as a result knocked down four three-pointers.
Brandenberg took attention away from Juvonte Reddic as well, as Tribe big men were forced to come out and help on his drives. Reddic had a lot of one-on-one time with Tim Rusthoven in the paint and dominated the William & Mary forward for the second time this season, putting up 20 points.
For the second time in three games, it was Brandenberg who put the offense on his back, and it appears as though the cold streak is finally over. For him though, it’s the final score not the box score that he puts his stock into.
“It’s team first,” Brandenberg said. “Whatever happens with me, it happens, but I’ve just got to worry about what the team needs from me.”
Photo by: Chris Conway/The CT