Winthrop University namesake Robert Charles Winthrop reaches for his
VCU-Winthrop basketball tickets in this photo from Saturday’s shootaround.

Winthrop Eagles (Nov. 17, 2012)
2012-13 Record:
1-1
2011-12 Record (RPI): 12-20 (271)
Guy to heckle: Derrick Henry,  So., G, (20.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg)

The skinny: Where have you gone, Gregg Marshall? Actually, any VCU fan should be able to tell you by now he’s at Wichita State. The folks in Rock Hill, S.C. have noticed. When Marshall loaded up his U-Haul and headed west after a wildly successful nine-year run at Winthrop, he took his wins with him. Five years later, the Eagles have sunk dangerously close to obscurity. They were 12-20 in 2011-12, the final season under Randy Peele, who was given some nice parting gifts, including a version of the Big South Conference home game, for his troubles.

Enter former Wake Forest and Xavier assistant – and Villa 7 disciple – Pat Kelsey. The 37-year-old Kelsey is charged with turning around a program that has suffered through three losing seasons in the last four.

There are some pieces to work with. So far, so far, sophomore guard Derrick Henry has put up big numbers. Despite averaging just 2.5 points in 7.1 minutes per game last year, the Covington, Ga. native has already pumped in games of 26 and 15 points this season.

There’s also 6-7 wing Gideon Gamble, who, despite his modest career averages, dumped a career-high 20 points on VCU two years ago in a preseason NIT game. Gamble provided nine points in the Eagles’ 66-55 loss to Indiana State Tuesday. But hey, Gideon is a pretty awesome name, so who knows?

Despite the Rams’ unfamiliarity with this incarnation of Winthrop, VCU Coach Shaka Smart knows Kelsey well enough to make some assumptions about the Eagles’ makeup.

“They’re going to play extremely hard on the defensive end,” Smart said Thursday. “He’s a Skip Prosser disciple, follows a lot of Coach Prosser’s beliefs. They’re going to play mostly man-to-man very hard. They’re going to rebound the ball extremely well.”

Quick hitters: Shaka Smart said Thursday he expects senior guard Troy Daniels to play at Winthrop. Daniels sprained his right ankle Tuesday in VCU’s loss to Wichita State… VCU won that 2010 Preseason NIT meeting over Winthrop 67-54 in Winston-Salem, N.C. Current senior Darius Theus scored five points and handed out two assists in that game, while Rob Brandenberg had eight points… Winthrop won its first NCAA Tournament game in 2007 when it topped Notre Dame in the first round.

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