New VCU Basketball Practice Facility: Highlighting Breakout Players

The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) population is undoubtedly extremely psyched about the new VCU basketball practice facility.  As one of the fastest growing universities within the territory of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it boasts of a student body that is full of die-hard basketball fans.  The opening of the new practice facility is therefore welcome news to everyone and not just those in the athletic department.

The new VCU basketball practice facility supposedly costs 9 million dollars and will be erected at the northwest side of the Siegel Center, which is the parking lot near the side of the Bowe Street deck.  It will be used by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams for their practice sessions.  The projection is that this 2,070 square meter facility will see construction by 2013, which is something truly worth looking forward to.

For those in the VCU community, the project is currently in the design stage and the school is already excited to see its completion.  According to the Ed McLaughlin, the Athletics director of VCU, the basketball facility is actually an exceptional gift to the campus.  Although the donors were not explicitly named, he made it clear that the funding for the project came from a private entity.  He also confided that the project was actually approved way back August 2011 by the board of visitors based on the six-year capital plan of the university.

Initial figures place the cost at 9 million dollars; however, the athletics director said that it could exceed that.  More importantly, he would really like to see construction begin by the end of this season.  There is no down that gifts like these will make a substantial impact on the quality of play of the varsity team to further improve their level of play.  There is also no doubt that this project represents a significant value to the university.

The new VCU basketball practice facility will also be of significant importance to breakout players for the Rams like sophomore wingman Treveon Graham.  According to coach Shaka Smart, Graham should already have been considered as one of the breakout players in his freshman year, except that he was still in the shadows of one of the most prolific players in the history of Rams’ basketball, Bradford Burgess.  However, in his sophomore year, Graham is being grouped to play multiple positions and roles.

Graham is expected to make up for the loss of Burgess who finished his NCAA career as only one of three Rams to compile more than 1,600 points, 200 assists, and grab 700 rebounds, no doubt a triple threat player.  All of these were achieved by Bradford Burgess in a record 146 consecutive NCAA basketball games playing the position of either guard or forward.  The 6-foot-5 Graham will have his work cut out for him as he tries to improve on his freshman statistics of 7 points with 3.2 rebounds in an average of 16.8 minutes of playing time.

In comparing Graham with the graduated Burgess, Smart believes that they both excel in so many facets of the game.  He is quick to point out though that Graham is better at drawing fouls as well as absorbing contact around the rim and finishing.  Smart is optimistic about the ability of Graham to score off rebounds as well as his 3-point range capability despite inconsistencies in his freshman year, which the coach attributes mostly to jitters.

The positive outlook of coach Smart is based on the work ethic that Graham has displayed as he used the summer to work not only on his defensive game, but also his ball handling skills, midrange and long range shooting, and even his free throws.  This is something worth looking at since Graham is one of the top 40 players in terms of foul drawn in 40 minutes of action, which means that he gets to go to the free throw line relatively more than other Rams players.

In high School, Graham was a 75 percent free throw shooter, but in his freshman season, he dropped to 63.3 percent foul shots made.  This does not bother coach Smart as he projects a significant increase in the number of free throw shots that will be awarded to Graham this season, from 120 shot to about 200 to 250, which the coach attributes to the significant increase in the minutes he played this season.

Rob Brandenberg is a junior guard who is also another breakout player who is excited at the prospects of the new VCU basketball practice facility.  Despite the roller coaster season last year, coach Smart believes that things will happen just at the right time for Brandenberg.  This is because the coach has seen him put in the work with dedication both in the skills and mental aspects of the game.  There is no doubt in the mind of coach Smart that all these hard work will pay dividends in the season.

Currently, the VCU coach believes that the Rams have an edge against the newer teams.  This is because many of them are not familiar with the type of fast-paced and pressing game that they play, which delivers huge advantages for the VCU Rams.  This is something that he sees improving more as the new VCU basketball practice facility becomes a reality.  He also believes that as the team gets more practice with their style of play, they will become mentally tougher as they hit the road for grueling games.  All of these preparations will be greatly enhanced once the new VCU basketball practice facility becomes operational.