December 11, 2013
Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center
Arenas, they grow up so fast.
VCU is playing its 15th season inside the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, a venue that has changed the course of the program and has become one of college basketball’s best atmospheres.
Before the Siegel Center opened, the VCU program was stuck in neutral. In the previous 14 seasons, the Rams made one NCAA Tournament appearance. In the 14 seasons since “The Stu” opened its doors, VCU has danced in March six times and recorded 13 winning records. Of course, there are a lot of other reasons for the Rams’ success over that period, namely, some great coaches. But it’s fair to say the program was more attractive to recruits, coaches and fans at the corner of Broad and Harrison, than in the Coliseum, a building too old, too big and too off-campus.
Since the Siegel Center opened its doors to basketball on Nov. 19, 1999, the Rams have played 212 games (not counting exhibitions) in the arena and won 183 of them, a winning percentage of .863. Along the way, there were plenty of unforgettable moments and epic battles. I tried to narrow those 212 games into a definitive list of 15 “greatest” games. Each game carries significance in its own right. Some were amazing finishes, some were historic. All of them were memorable.
15-VCU 52, Drexel 48 (Jan. 5, 2011) – Box Score
In a rivalry that produced numerous wacky finishes, this may have been the wackiest. After rallying from eight points down, Joey Rodriguez gave the Rams a 47-46 lead with a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left. Then it got nuts. With 13.2 seconds left, Jamie Skeen rebounded a potential go-ahead jumper by Drexel’s Chris Fouch and was fouled. Dragons’ Coach Bruiser Flint promptly picked up back-to-back technical fouls and the Rams’ clinched with win with five straight free throws.
December 8, 2013
Amy Cuddy, Juvonte Reddic, Old Dominion Monarchs, Power Poses, Shaka Smart, Ted Talks
Juvonte Reddic turned in his fourth double-double in his last six games Sunday.
RICHMOND, Va. – Before Sunday’s game, Juvonte Reddic worked on Power Poses. During the game, he struck a pose of dominance and lifted VCU to a 69-48 victory over Old Dominion at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Reddic, cashing in on a game plan geared to exploit VCU’s size advantage over the Monarchs (just two ODU regulars stand as tall as 6-foot-7), delivered season highs of 24 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. Reddic used a series of post moves, baby hooks, dunks and putbacks on the way to an efficient 12-of-16 shooting performance. He was just four points shy of his career high.
Behind Reddic, VCU outrebounded Old Dominion 50-35 and grabbed 27 offensive rebounds. Five or Reddic’s caroms came on the offensive end, and VCU outscored ODU 30-9 in second-chance points.
While Sunday’s effort was Reddic’s best of the season to date, it was just the most recent in a series of good games for the 6-foot-9 forward of late. In his last six games, Reddic has produced four double-doubles and five double-digit rebounding games. In those six games, he’s averaging 15.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and shooting .574 (39-of-68) from the field. It’s a dramatic shift from the beginning of the season, when Reddic averaged 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and recorded no double-doubles in the first four games.
The difference Reddic says, is in his mental and emotional state. He’s more plugged in now, and it’s paying off.
December 6, 2013
Eastern Kentucky Colonels, Glenn Cosey, JeQuan Lewis, Jordan Burgess, Melvin Johnson, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon, Treveon Graham
Freshman JeQuan Lewis scored 13 points Thursday in VCU’s 71-68 victory.
RICHMOND, Va. – As pure entertainment, VCU’s 71-68 overtime win over Eastern Kentucky Thursday at the Verizon Wireless Arena was terrific. There was practically March intensity in an early December game, the score was close, it was, for the most part, well-played, and the pace was often dizzying.
But Rams’ Coach Shaka Smart can invest very little emotionally in the basketball on the floor as a consumable product. As a coach, he’s got to be more clinical. For Smart, there’s likely more value in the victory as a progress report of sorts.
On that level, there was much for him to see. Some things, he’ll like, others, he won’t. But for the second straight game, his team provided a window through which to view how good it could be. On the other hand, Smart knows the Rams have plenty of work to do.
While the fans and media were bullish on VCU from day one, Smart has never sold the Rams as being a finished project. Sure, he’d like them to be, and Smart wants the Rams to be as good – and even better – as that top 10 ranking they once held, but we live in a world of college basketball where North Carolina can lose to UAB and then beat top-ranked Michigan State. The game is unpredictable, and teams don’t always realize their potential when coaches want. VCU certainly has moments of greatness. Capturing it and honing it is a skill in and of itself.
December 4, 2013
Eastern Kentucky Colonels, Marcus Lewis, Marcus Lewis EKU
Eastern Kentucky’s Marcus Lewis is known for his high-flying dunks and is averaging 12.9 points per game this year.
Meet Eastern Kentucky guard Marcus Lewis.
That’s some seriously dunkage. In some way, you can think of Lewis as being the Colonels’ Briante Weber. This season, Lewis is EKU’s second-leading scorer at 12.9 points per game. He’s shooting .594 from the field, which I assume is because he spends most of his time just dunking in people’s grills. In the last two seasons, Lewis has 40 dunks. This year, he has 15 in eight games. The rest of his teammates have seven – combined. Either way, he’s going to be a fun match-up for somebody Thursday.
This week, VCU Coach Shaka Smart called Lewis, “maybe the most athletic kid in the country,” and said his dunk in the video above was one of the most impressive he’s ever seen.
If Thursday’s game is tied after regulation, we’re going to petition the NCAA for a Marcus Lewis/Briante Weber dunk contest to settle it. I’ll let you know what they say.
Update with official NCAA response: “You must have hit your head on the rim. Hard.”
December 4, 2013
Houston Rockets, NBA D-League, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Troy Daniels 3-pointers, Troy Daniels.
Troy Daniels, no longer a Bobcat, but for their sake, they should continue to keep tabs on him.
The word “Hidalgo” in Spanish is a term of nobility, although in later years it has been adopted somewhat informally. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League play in Hidalgo, Texas, which is, almost quite literally, a 3-pointer away from the Mexican border.
Former Ram Troy Daniels’ career with the Vipers, the D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets, is just five games old, but he’s already playing in a way that should merit some type of designation of nobility, or at least a gift certificate to El Torito over on Jackson St. If we elect for the former, we’d have something like, Hidalgo de la Canasta de Tres Puntos (forgive my butchered Spanish).
In five games, Daniels, a walking NBA Jam trope during his final two seasons at VCU, is averaging 25.0 points and shooting 53 percent (33-of-62) from 3-point range. Yes, in five games, Daniels – who once hit 11 triples in a game at East Tennessee State in college – has hit 33 treys. Last night, in a 153(yes, 153)-109 win over Delaware, Daniels hit 6-of-10 threes in 21 minutes. The night before, he bombed 7-of-12 from beyond the arc in just 24 minutes. Daniels hit six of those threes in one nine-minute stretch.