The skinny: Injuries to key players have hurt the Tribe, but can’t completely excuse William & Mary’s significant defensive shortcomings. The Tribe rank last in the CAA in field goal defense (.458), rebounding margin (-3.6) and blocked shots (2.1) and are 11th in turnover margin (-4.72). VCU is first in turnover margin (+5.67).
Quinn McDowell is a First Team All-CAA talent, but the senior’s numbers have dropped sharply this year following a preseason knee injury. The good news is that McDowell may be rounding into form. In the last seven games, McDowell is averaging 15.9 points and shooting 51 percent from the field. Freshman guard Marcus Thornton (11.3 ppg) looks like a keeper, while sophomore forward Tim Rusthoven (9.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has thrived in an expanded role.
Shaka Smart describes William & Mary’s offense as “unique”. The Tribe often play four perimeter players and aren’t shy about firing from 3-point range. They’ve attempted the third-most 3-pointers in the league this year (121) behind only VCU (134) and James Madison (129). William & Mary has been hurt this year by poor 3-point shooting (.318), but if the Tribe gets hot they can score in bunches. William & Mary will also run a number of backdoor cuts and will set screens at different angles.
“They’re good at taking advantage of people who aren’t ready to defend their stuff,” Smart says.
Quick hitter: William & Mary defeated VCU 85-56 in its first visit to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Feb. 4, 2000 and has not won in the building since.