Commentary

How to beat the VCU Rams

Ball control and disciplined defense are keys to ending Rams' run

Updated: March 31, 2011, 12:41 PM ET
By Fran Fraschilla | ESPN Insider
Joey Rodriguez & Matt HowardGetty Images, US PresswireKeeping VCU's Joey Rodriguez out of the lane will be key for Butler and Matt Howard.

As the Butler Bulldogs prepare for the Virginia Commonwealth Rams this week, they will see a lot of themselves in Shaka Smart's team, especially on offense.

The Rams' ability to spread the floor with four -- and sometimes five -- perimeter shooters is very similar to Butler's offensive attack last season. Gordon Hayward was not a traditional college power forward because of his ability to play on the perimeter and take his opponents off the dribble.

Having four perimeter players who can attack off the dribble and kick it out to open shooters puts enormous pressure on an opponent's defense, because guarding the dribble is one of the hardest things to do in college basketball.

To beat the Rams, the Bulldogs will need to do a good job of slowing down the Rams' drive-and-kick game in addition to getting back in transition and attacking a defense that proved itself to be quite vulnerable at certain points this season.

Fran Fraschilla is a college basketball analyst for ESPN. He formerly was the head coach at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico.