VCU Rams ready to take on Syracuse in the Bahamas
Fred Jeter | 11/24/2021, 6 p.m.
Virginia Commonwealth University is preparing to face not one but three Boeheims on Wednesday, Nov. 24, in the Bahamas.
The Rams will take on Syracuse University at 5 p.m. in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Syracuse is coached by 77-year-old Jim Boeheim (career record 982-409).
Two of Coach Boeheim’s best players are his sons, 6-foot-6 senior Buddy (20 points per game) and 6-foot-8 graduate student Jimmy (about 14.3 points per game).
There is some history between the schools.
On March 18, 1984, a Syracuse squad led by Pearl Washington defeated the VCU Rams 78-63 in the second round of the NCAA playoffs at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.
By contrast, Wednesday’s game is a very early season test. Still, it will draw national ESPN coverage and will weigh heavily on NCAA Tournament résumés.
The VCU-Syracuse winner/loser will play Thursday, Nov. 25, against the winner/loser of the game between defending NCAA champion Baylor University and Arizona State University. The Rams’ second game will be at either 5 or 7:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
The Battle 4 Atlantis concludes Friday, Nov. 26, with games for first, third, fifth and seventh place.
VCU, which is 2-2 following a 56-54 home loss to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga on Nov. 20, has wins over Saint Peter’s University and Vanderbilt University and a loss to Wagner College on Nov. 13.
Syracuse is 2-1 and coming off a humbling 100-85 Carrier Dome loss on Nov. 20 to Colgate University as the visiting Red Raiders hit 18 three-pointers. Colgate had lost the previous 54 matchups against Syracuse.
Despite a national reputation and winning the 2003 NCAAchampionship, Syracuse has been fairly ordinary since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Orange is 79-62 in ACC play under Coach Boeheim. The New Yorkers did catch a spark at the end of last season, advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Rams made last season’s NCAA field but bowed out due to positive COVID-19 tests.
In the Bahamas, VCU will have something of a “Island Advantage” with 6-foot-9 junior Hason Ward from Barbados. Ward hasn’t scored much but has blocked 14 shots.
Syracuse’s counterpart is 6-foot-11 junior Jesse Edwards (10 blocks in three games) from Amsterdam.
While VCU is struggling on offense — just 53 points per game — it would appear Syracuse, famous for Coach Boeheim’s trademark 2-3 zone, has major defensive issues.
Following action in the Bahamas, the Rams will return home to entertain the Campbell University Fighting Camels on Saturday, Dec. 4.