VCU Coach Shaka Smart says Illinois State has been more challenging to scout because of roster turnover.

VCU Coach Shaka Smart says Illinois State has been more challenging to scout because of roster turnover.

RICHMOND, Va. – The first game of every season presents a little bit of the unknown, but this VCU opener may offer a little more mystery than usual.

The Rams tip off their anticipated 2013-14 season on Friday (7 p.m.) against Illinois State at the Verizon Wireless Arena. While the Redbirds were an 18-15 team a year ago, that information is essentially, uh, for the birds. This year’s Illinois State team features 10 newcomers. The Redbirds return a grand total of eight percent of their scoring from last year. ISU’s leading returning scorer is sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft, who averaged 4.5 points per game last year.

So, this is essentially a brand new team for second-year Redbirds Coach Dan Muller. While that presents a unique set of challenges for Muller, it will also give VCU Coach Shaka Smart a few headaches.

“One of the biggest challenges is that we don’t know a whole lot about them because they’ve got so many new players from a personnel standpoint,” Smart admitted Monday at his weekly press conference.

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