Courtesy: Atlantic 10 Conference

#A10WBBTIPOFF: 2018-19 VCU Rams Season Preview

By Atlantic 10 Conference

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Welcome to the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Tipoff for the 2018-19 Season. Today, we feature the VCU Rams.

VCU (Predicted A-10 Finish: 6th)

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The youngest team in the Atlantic 10 a year ago has the benefit of being a year older.


VCU still has no seniors and returns all its starters in what looks to be a promising season given the way this team ended 2017-18. The young team struggled early on in a 7-22 season, but 12 of the team’s final 13 games were decided by 10 points or less and provide optimism for the coming season.


The Rams dropped the final three regular-season games last year by a total of 15 points. They showed their grit in the first round against Saint Joseph’s, something Hawks’ Coach Cindy Griffin remembers six months later.


“VCU is a team to watch for,” she said.


A look at the Rams:


Coach: Beth O’Boyle 5th season at VCU, 62-61 and 11thseason overall, 155-144


Last year: 7-22 (lost in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Championship to eventual runner-up Saint Joseph’s 72-63)


They’ll miss: Not much. Last season’s top four scorers, -- and seven of the top eight – are all back.


Impact returners: 6-0 sophomore guard Tera Reed 14 ppg, .437 FG percentage, named to A-10 All-Rookie team, first freshman to lead Rams in scoring since Quanitra Hollingsworth (2005-06); 5-10 sophomore guard Taya Robinson 9.1 ppg; 5-10 junior guard Jailyn Maddox 8.4 ppg


Newbies of note: 6-0 freshman forward Ksenlya Malashka, MVP of the U18 European Championships in Division B for Belarus, averaged 20.5 ppg, 14.1 rpg and 2.8 ppg in eight-game stretch; 6-0 redshirt junior guard Jordan Agustus, a transfer from St. John’s.


Reasons to be optimistic: More home games early – VCU appeared at the Siegel Center just once over the 2017-18 season’s first month. The Rams also figure to be without the crippling injuries that stalled last season’s development.


Sydnei Archie, who suffered two ACL tears in high school, starts the season healthy, unlike a year ago, and should be factor. Redshirt freshman guard Madison Hattix-Covington, out with a broken ankle last season, is also showing promise in practice. “She can do a little bit of everything,” O’Boyle said.


The Rams coach also touts Malashka’s versatility, noting “She can shoot the 3, go off the bounce, and get up and block shots well.” How quickly she makes an impact depends on how comfortably she adjusts to the pace of the American game and the decision-making it requires.


X-factor: Controlling the glass. These Rams need to go, go, go to be successful, and to do that, they need to rebound and run.


Circle the date(s): O’Boyle likes her team to compete against its in-state rivals and points to traveling to Old Dominion on Dec. 16. The rivalry spans 75 games and VCU dominated ODU 68-39 last year. A re-tooled Lady Monarchs team should be a better test for the Rams this season.


Bottom line: Given VCU’s promising finish in 2017-18 and maturity, odds are good that the Rams will be among the most improved teams in the league.

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