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USF-VCU Preview, Or Bulls Try To Beat The Press

Your USF Bulls (5-2) head up to Richmond to take on the Virginia Commonwealth Rams (3-3) tonight at the Verizon Wireless Center. Game is scheduled for 7:30 PM and will be streamed online at ESPN3.com. If you don't have ESPN3, Jim Lighthall and Todd Kalas will have the call for you on 620 WDAE. Here are your probable starting lineups for tonight.

VCU
USF
6'3" Jr. Darius Theus G 6'1" Fr. Anthony Collins
6'2" Soph. Rob Brandenberg
G 6'0" Soph. Blake Nash
6'3" Fr. Briante Weber G/F 6'8" Soph. Victor Rudd
6'6" Sr. Bradford Burgess
G/F 6'8" Jr. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick
6'9" Soph. Juvonte Reddic
F 6'8" Ron Anderson Jr.

We should know what to expect from Shaka Smart's team tonight. On defense, VCU will utilize a full court press to create pressure with their athletic guards and try to force their opposition into mistakes. On offense, its bombs away from three and quick baskets from their full court press.

Leading the way for the Rams this year is Bradford Burgess (12.3 PTS/4.2 REB), who was one of the heroes of VCU's Final Four run from a year ago. Burgess takes over half of his shot attempts from three this season, and is shooting a respectable 34% so far this season. Rob Brandenberg (9.7 PTS/3.0 REB/2.3 AST) is another who likes to stay behind the arc and is shooting 36% from three this year.

Darius Theus (8.0 PTS/2.3 REB/4.5 AST/1.7 STL) is the team's primary ball handler and does a good job finding the open man and running the offense, although he does turn the ball over quite a bit. Briante Weber (7.5 PTS/3.2 REB/2.2 STL) is there for his defensive presence, but he can create his own shot when needed.

VCU really only uses two guards off the bench at this time. 6'4" Jr. Troy Daniels (9.3 PTS/4.0 REB) is there for his three-point shooting, but he's been poor so far this season, only shooting 31% so far this year. 6'5" Fr. Treveon Graham (3.3 PTS/2.7 REB) is there to mainly give the guards a few minutes rest.

The main post option for the Rams this is is Juvonte Reddic (8.3 PTS/5.0 REB). He's extremely athletic, and should give Ron Anderson Jr. a good challenge down low. Backing Reddic up is 7'0" Soph. DJ Haley (3.8 PTS/4.2 REB) who is there to be a huge presence in the post while Reddic gets a breather. 6'8" Fr. Heath Houston (1.0 PTS/1.2 REB) has been lightly used this season, but with our size advantage down low, we might see some extended minutes for him tonight.

The big issue for today's game is how our two point guards handle the VCU press all night. Anthony Collins has looked great so far this season against Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern, but this game will be toughest test of his brief career. Having another quality ballhandler in Blake Nash will be an added insurance policy against the Rams, who have forced over 18 turnovers a game this season.

Augustus Gilchrist is questionable for the game tonight, but I still think Coach Heath will wait until the Kansas game this weekend to bring him back into the rotation. One big reason why Stan has been able to be conservative with Gilchrist's timetable has been the strong form of Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Ron Anderson. Jr. With the Bulls' big size advantage down low, I'm expecting another big game from the duo down low.

It will be a close game tonight, but I think the Bulls will be able to protect the ball and get a big road win. Bulls by 5.