Aggressive Play of Melvin Johnson Helps VCU Dispatch UMass
He didn’t even attempt a free-throw.
Melvin Johnson scored a career-high 18 points off the bench as the VCU Rams torched the UMass Minutemen, 86-68 on Thursday night and the freshman didn’t need any FTs to do it.
Johnson only needed 18 minutes to put up his 18 points — equalling that of the entire Minutemen bench.
Did I mention the man had only a pair of 3-pointers? Inside, outside, elbow, baseline, the first-year guard calmly shot 8 of 13 from the field without fouling or turning the ball over.
Seniors Darius Theus and Troy Daniels won’t be there to carry the load next season, so players like Johnson and Briante Weber will be called upon to take the reigns of the offense. With performances like this, VCU coach Shaka Smart can breathe a little easier when thinking about the future.
It’s relatively unclear as to how Johnson projects as a starter. He doesn’t rack up assists in his nightly minutes but he doesn’t get to the free-throw line enough to make opposing 2-guards honest. He’s a respectable 16 of 22 from the line this season (72-percent) but he needs to develop something to make more defenses respect him enough to where he can create space off the dribble for decent shot attempts.
Johnson was 5 of 7 from inside 18 feet on the night. Now there’s an idea. A mid-range shooter, what a novel concept. Altough I shudder at the thought of aa mid-range game as a lost art but that’s becoming a reality with each passing season dominated by deep-shooting big men and rebounding guards.
Johnson can and will go places in his collegiate career but that jumper is a serious meal ticket.
Mike Gillmeister can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter:@mgillmei. Like his Facebook page here for updates on Big 12/A-1o men’s basketball.