VCU's Skeen a versatile weapon

VCU's Skeen a versatile weapon
March 31, 2011, 8:47 pm

Thursday, March 31, 2011 4:30 p. m. By Rich Tandler
Redskins Blogger
CSNwashington.com Although senior forward Jamie Skeen, VCUs leading scorer, rebounder and best all-around player, doesnt speak out much, that doesnt mean he lacksconfidence. He really thinks hes the best player in the country, senior point guard Joey Rodriguez said of the senior forward. Really, every time he goes against somebody, he thinks hes the best. When asked about Rodriguezs comments, Skeen didnt deny it, although he was hesitant to come out and say it. I think that, but I dont want to come off as a cocky person because I think its selfish, he said. I want to have that type of swagger that says Im the best player on the court, but I dont want to just come out there and say it. He has let his play on the court do most of the talking. In the NCAA tournament, Skeen has averaged 15.6 points in the Rams five wins, including 26 in their regional final win over top-seeded Kansas. Skeens postseason magic started at the CAA tournament. In the quarterfinals, his layup at the buzzer gave the Rams a 62-60 win over Drexel. The next day against George Mason, he got it done from the outside, draining four of six three-pointers as VCU ended the Patriots 16-game winning streak and advanced to the conference final. Ive never taken six three-pointers in a game in my life, Skeen said after the GMU game. Without winning those two games, it is highly unlikely that VCU would have received the invitation to the tournament. Without the support of Rams coach Shaka Smart, Skeen probably never would have taken so many three-point attempts. At one point during the season, one of Smarts assistants tried to make the case that Skeen should stop shooting from three-point range. 'Hes not a good enough shooter, he doesnt have enough discipline, he shoots it different ways at different time and look as his percentage -- its in the low 20s, Smart quoted his assistant, whom he declined to name, as saying. But Smart stuck by Skeen. He told the assistant: No, I disagree. Hes a good shooter, and he can keep shooting threes. Id say since that point, he has to be shooting in the mid to high 40s in percentage. Skeens ability to score from in the paint and from outside the arc gives the opposing defenses fits. Its such a weapon because you play him at the 4 spot power forward or the 5 spot center so hes got a bigger guy guarding him, Smart said. He has to come out and defend him, and it opens up so much for all of our other guys. Rodriguez said Skeens versatility makes his job easier. They have to decide who theyre going to guard, he said. If I come off of a ball screen, are they going to let me shoot? Or fall back because theres another guy who can really shoot back there? Junior guard Bradford Burgess agreed. Its crazy how he can affect the game. Skeen is a team leader, although he is a man of few words. Because he doesnt speak out often, his words carry extra weight when he does. At one point in the season, Burgess was struggling, and Skeen decided to do something about it. He called out Brad, Rodriguez said. Ever since then, Brads been one of the best players around. It was no big deal to Skeen. I saw something in him and I called him out on it, he said. I told him that 'Youre not doing what you were doing at the beginning of the season,' and I felt like he should change it. And he has really stepped it up. Skeen also will speak up for himself, although his teammates sometimes wonder if its necessary. Before a November game at UCLA, he got up at a team meeting and asked to get the ball more. We all kind of looked at him like, 'Are you serious?' We look for him all the time, Rodriguez said. I guess he didnt think he was getting the ball enough, so he stood up and said, 'Please give me the ball.' Whether Skeen needed to speak up or not, his words worked. Skeen put up 13 shots against the Bruins, his second-highest total of the regular season, and scored 23 points. Can the Rams win the national championship? Its definitely doable, Skeen said. Especially if Skeen keeps saying the right thing at the right time. Contact Tandler at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net.