Analysis: Lady Rams formidable in 2013-14

Sterling Giles
Contributing Writer

The VCU women’s basketball team has equaled its best start in school history with a 14-2 record on the season. The distinction comes on the heels of a 13-game winning streak, which spanned nearly two months from Nov. 17 to Jan. 8.

So far this year, the Lady Rams are a perfect 6-0 at home, and though five of their six games at the Siegel Center were won by a margin of more than 10 points, the team’s 8-2 road record is arguably more impressive.

In her second year as head coach of the Lady Rams, Marlene Stollings has led her team to a remarkable showing in the Atlantic 10 conference. VCU ranks first in the conference in steals (12.8 per game), second in scoring offense (81.3 per game), second in assists (17.9 per game) and third in offensive rebounds (15.5 per game).

VCU (14-2, 2-1 A-10) recorded conferene victories against the University of Massachusetts and Duquesne University on Jan. 2 and Jan. 4 respectively. The Massachusetts game was won in a blowout fashion, 112-54, while the Duquesne contest was determined by crucial free throws in the closing seconds resulting in a 71-68 victory.

The sole conference loss came on Jan. 8 against La Salle University, which is second in the conference standings. The lead exchanged hands several times during the game, but the Explorers were able to pull away down the stretch with crucial shots from the free throw line. La Salle handed VCU its first loss in its last 14 contests by a final score of 63-58.

Over the course of the season, several players have had remarkable performances. However, none compare to the year senior Robyn Parks is having. The forward has already earned A-10 Player of the Week honors on four separate occasions. In conference play, Parks ranks first in points per game, averaging 23.1 per contest, and second in rebounds with 9.8 per game. She ranks 11th in the nation in scoring.

However, Parks is not the only reason for the Lady Rams’ success. Freshmen guards Isis Thrope and Keira Robinson are having breakout seasons as well. Each player has earned A-10 Player of the Week honors and both have had strong showings in their limited conference experience. Thrope is 10th overall in shooting from behind the arc at 38.9 percent, while Robinson is second in both assists and steals at 6.5 per game and 2.4 per game respectively.

Looking forward to the remaining games of the season, the  Lady Rams have their work cut for them. Some notable games include the Jan. 12 contest against Saint Joseph’s, which will be aired on CBS Sports Network, the Jan. 22 contest against Duquesne and the Feb. 13 contest against George Washington University, which will also be aired on CBS Sports Network.

One of the keys to VCU’s newfound success has been the newly-implemented Fury brand of basketball, which is built around high-pressure defense and forcing turnovers. Entering the week, the Lady Rams averaged 22.9 turnovers forced per game, which led the A-10.

On the offensive end, VCU ranked second in the conference in assists (17.9 per game) and sixth in offensive rebounds (15.5 per game).

However, the lagging component of the team’s game has been its struggles at the free throw line. While the team is in the top-10 in the A-10, it is shooting a mere 66 percent. Improvements in this percentage can seal victories for the Lady Rams down the stretch in close games.

If VCU’s impressive play continues, they will most likely clinch the third or fourth spot in the conference before season’s end. Although, George Washington is favored to win the A-10 tournament, VCU has the potential to pull off an upset thanks to its defensive intensity and consistent offensive output.

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