December 6, 2013
December 6, 2013
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 6, 2013
EASTERN KENTUCKY COACH JEFF NEUBAUER
December 4, 2013
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
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.
December 2, 2013
Great clip here from VCU Assistant Coach Mike Rhoades on the Rams’ coaching staff wearing blue collar work shirts last week. Considering Rhoades is a guy who once had his teeth knocked out in practice, you can feel pretty comfortable taking his word on these types of things.
December 1, 2013
November 30, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – On the busiest shopping day of the year, VCU made sure to stop by the Siegel Center to pick up an important victory. Like Big Hugs Elmo dolls, they are in demand, and require a certain level of grit, persistence and focus to procure one; Although the eye-gouging was left to the Target parking lot squabbles.
There’s no such thing as a “must-win” game in November, but there are the kind that you’d really like to have, and even the kind you probably really need. VCU’s 79-66 win over Northeastern Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena is likely some combination of both.
VCU, coming off a 1-2 trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off last week, which including a stinging blowout loss to Florida State and a frustratingly just-out-of-reach setback to Georgetown, came home looking to get well. The Rams were trying to do so against a Northeastern team that has traditionally been a tough out for VCU…and had just beaten Georgetown…and played Florida State to the wire…and VCU was without two of its top eight players in Jordan Burgess (knee sprain) and Terrance Shannon (family matter).
This would not be a Black Friday giveaway. If the Rams were going to put Puerto Rico in their rearview mirror, they were going to have to earn it in the claw-your-way-past-Wal-Mart-shoppers way.
November 30, 2013
SHAKA SMART PRESSER
VCU PLAYER PRESSER
November 26, 2013
Why do fans cheer? Because not everybody is Larry Bird. Let me explain.
One night in 1989, Bird and the Boston Celtics were playing the Los Angeles Clippers at the perpetually outdated L.A. Sports Arena. The San Diego Chicken – presumably hired because anything was better than watching the Clippers back then – went to great lengths to mess with Bird’s mojo.
At one point, Bird was fouled and stepped to the line for two free throws. The aforementioned Chicken countered by unfurling posters of swimsuit models under the basket. Bird, a cocksure, otherworldly shooter, laughed…and then hit both free throws.
You couldn’t get to Larry Bird. He’s one of the most accurate free throw shooters in NBA history. But not everybody is Larry Bird. Most basketball players are human.
Fans cheer for a lot of reasons, but paramount among them is the belief that doing so can have an impact on the game. Because a game can come down to one nervous, rushed or distracted free throw that dances perilously on the rim. For the most part, we know this instinctually. It’s just understood that a raucous home crowd benefits the host team.
“I think it has some type of effect,” says VCU senior Rob Brandenberg. “I’m not going to say it’s 100 percent guaranteed, but I do think after a while, especially if a fan can get to you…it depends on the player, really.”
Can we actually quantify the value of a home court advantage, outside of the obvious categories of wins and losses? I suppose we can try.