NASSAU, Bahamas - In their first tune-up for the 2008-09 season, the Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball team cruised to three wins during their trip to the Bahamas Basketball Federation Exhibition Tournament over Labor Day Weekend.

The Rams’ average margin of victory was more than 28 points behind a balanced attack.

“Overall, I thought it was a great opportunity for us, with such young team to be able to practice this early in the year,” said VCU Head Coach Anthony Grant.

“The trip was good for us to find out about our team and was also somewhat of a reward for our guys for the hard work they’ve put in the last 10 days, as well as their individual workouts over the summer.”

Seven players averaged eight points per game or better. Sophomore Brandon Rozzell (Richmond, Va./Highland Park) led the way with 13.6 points per game. Rozzell also averaged 4.7 assists.

In VCU’s first contest, sophomore Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla./Lake Howell) scored 12 points, while Rozzell and sophomore Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla./Port St. Lucie) added 11 a piece in an 87-67 win over the College of the Bahamas. Sanders added 13 rebounds and blocked two shots. Junior T.J. Gwynn (Burlington, N.C./Cummings) kicked in nine points and nine rebounds.

The Rams’ second contest was an 82-57 win over Cybots behind 17 points from Rozzell. Rozzell knocked down 7-of-14 from the floor in the win for VCU, which shot 45 percent (36-of-80) for the game.

Five players scored in double figures, including sophomore Myk Brown (Gainesville, Fla./P.K. Yonge), who dropped in 13 points and canned a pair of 3-pointers.

In the finale against Malcolm Park, sophomore Ed Nixon took the lead, pouring in 18 points in a 105-65 rout. The Rams shot 50 percent (38-of-76) from the field in the game and had five players top double figures.

Junior Kirill Pishchalnikov (Maykop, Russia/MGGTK AGU) scored 17 points on 6-of-8 field goals and 5-of-5 shooting from the free throw line. The 6-8 Russian also corralled seven rebounds.

Sophomore Lance Kearse (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers) (14 points), Rozzell (13 points, 6 assists), Rodriguez (11 points, 7 assists) and Sanders (7 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks) also played significant roles. 

“Overall, I’m pleased with our guys and hopefully this will be a catalyst for the upcoming season,” Commented Grant.

Nassau, Bahamas

VCU 87, College of the Bahamas 67 (Aug. 30)
VCU Scoring: Rodriguez 12, Rozzell 11, Sanders 11, Gwynn 9, Burgess 8, Ndongo 8, Brown 8, Saintil 6, Nixon 6, Pishchalnikov 5, Kearse 3

VCU 82, Cybots 57 (Aug. 30)
VCU Scoring: Rozzell 17, Brown 13, Kearse 11, Nixon 10, Sanders 10, Rodriguez 9, Saintil 4, Gwynn 4, Burgess 2, Pishchalnikov 2

VCU 105, Malcom Park 65 (Aug. 31)
VCU Scoring: Nixon 18, Pishchalnikov 17, Kearse 14, Rozzell 13, Rodriguez 11, Brown 8, Burgess 7, Sanders 7, Saintil 6, Gwynn 4.


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