|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET12:00 PM GMT8:00 PM 北京时间5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST, Nov 5, 2019
Stuart Siegel Center, Richmond, Virginia Attendance: 7,637
No. 25 VCU ready to live up to ranking vs. Saint Francis (Pa.)
No. 25 Virginia Commonwealth brings back plenty of talent from last year's NCAA tournament team and will start the season Tuesday night with a non-conference home game against Saint Francis (Pa.).
The Rams return lots of punch from last season's team that finished with a 25-8 record. Overall, they have four starters coming back as well as eight of their top nine scorers.
VCU is starting the season with its first appearance in the Associated Press Top 25 poll since Feb. 23, 2015. The Rams got votes in the poll in different weeks last year but never cracked the top 25.
Also, the Rams were picked as the No. 1 team in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll recently. VCU won the regular-season crown last year with a 16-2 record in conference. The Rams will be led by seniors Marcus Evans, De'Riante Jenkins and junior Marcus Santos-Silva.
Evans was a first-team pick for the A-10's preseason first team. Last season, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 13.6 points plus 3.2 assists and earned first-team All-Conference honors.
Jenkins and Santos-Silva were third-team picks on the conference's pre-season honor list. Jenkins averaged 11.3 points per game last year plus 3.9 rebounds. Santos-Silva posted 10.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season.
The Rams have played tough defense in their preseason outings, something coach Mike Rhoades wants to become a habit in every game. VCU had a nationally ranked defense last season, and the coach is hoping that carries over into 2019-20.
"We want to make it so hard to get the ball up the court and then even harder to find a way to score," Rhoades told the Commonwealth Times. "We've got to live by that; that's who we are."
Rhoades was named the A-10's coach of the year last season.
The last time these two teams met was Nov. 11, 2011, when VCU scored a 63-57 victory over the Red Flash.
For Saint Francis, this also will be the season opener. The Red Flash finished last season with an 18-15 record and won the Northeast Conference regular-season title before losing in the conference's tournament title game.
But even though Saint Francis missed out on an NCAA tournament appearance, it did get an invitation to the NIT. That's the first time the Red Flash played in the NIT since 1958, and Saint Francis suffered an 89-72 loss to Indiana in a first-round matchup.
Saint Francis is much like VCU in that it's returning a number of key players, starting with Keith Braxton. He was the NEC Player of the Year last season, and the Red Flash brings back three starters and eight players who should give the team a boost.
Braxton is a three-time All-NEC pick and is tied for the top spot in career double-doubles (37) among all active returning Division I players. Despite being a guard, Braxton ranks second in career rebounds (912) among Division I players that are returning this season.
Also, coach Rob Krimmel was named the NEC Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year last season. The Red Flash were selected third in the NEC preseason poll, and Krimmel said recently that playing tough non-conference opponents is what he wanted.
"I am excited about the non-conference schedule we have put together," Krimmel said in a statement. "We were able to continue the trend of playing some of the top teams in the country while playing in locations where we have a strong fan base of alumni and family of our current players."
--Field Level Media
Updated November 4, 2019