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One night in 1989, Bird and the Boston Celtics were playing the Los Angeles Clippers at the perpetually outdated L.A. Sports Arena.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.
November 22, 2013
On March 9, Syracuse shot 32 percent and scored exactly 39 points in a 12-point loss to Georgetown. On March 16, Syracuse was pounded by Louisville 78-61. On March 2, Wichita State let Creighton shoot 70 percent – that’s SEVEN, ZERO – in a double digit loss. What do Syracuse and Wichita State have in common? They both went to the Final Four last year. And, do I even need to bring up those back-to-back blowouts VCU absorbed against George Mason and Old Dominion in 2011 before blowtorching to the Final Four?
So let’s move on from Thursday’s tough loss to Florida State. We needn’t speak of it again. It is what it is. There are more than FOUR MONTHS left in the season. The only thing that really happened last night is that, for the 44th straight year, the Rams will not go undefeated.
Moving on. Long Beach State lies in front of the Rams Friday. The 49ers are a program with a rich history. I don’t think the Rams will have any trouble getting up for this one.
These two schools have met exactly once in their histories. On Jan. 23, 1993, a Seth Greenberg-coached Long Beach team came to the Richmond Coliseum riding high in a 13-2 start, and promptly had its doors blown off. Kendrick Warren, VCU’s Lord of the Dunk, scored a game-high 27 points, and the Rams shot 53 percent to win going away. They 49ers did recover, however, and won the Big West Tournament and reached the NCAA First Round.
November 20, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – There are a number of holdovers from VCU’s 2011 NCAA Tournament victory over Florida State on this year’s team, including Coach Shaka Smart, Associate Head Coach Mike Rhoades, and players Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic. But none of them will be able to offer the perspective of Terrance Shannon.
When VCU and Florida State meet Thursday at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Shannon will be the only participant to have stood on both sidelines in this “series”. Following a four-year stint in Tallahassee, Shannon transferred to VCU this summer. Shannon played five minutes for the Seminoles in that 72-71 VCU overtime win in San Antonio in 2011.
Ten of Shannon’s teammates return from last season’s 18-16 Florida State squad; ten guys he still calls his “brothers.” The experience, Shannon imagines, will be strange.
“It’s going to be bittersweet,” said Shannon, who averaged 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 72 games for FSU. “I get to see my former team again. I talk to the guys a lot, so the bond is still there. I still look at them as like brothers to me. It’s going to be weird playing against each other, but it’s going to be nice to see them again.”
Shannon says he talks the most with senior forward Okaro White, but that he keeps up with his former teammates as much as he can manage. He says they haven’t really talked about Thursday’s game.
Florida State is 3-0 this season after wins over Jacksonville, Central Florida and Tennessee-Martin. Although the Seminoles were picked ninth in the new 15-team ACC, Shannon believes FSU is going to be a “scary team” this season.
November 18, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Sorry, Mo Alie-Cox, we didn’t know any better.
Generally, whenever a power forward or center finds himself on an island beyond the 3-point arc, the audience treats it like a stunt from Jackass. They egg the big guy on until he agrees and lets the shot fly, then they gasp in horror. And much like the guy who rides down a steep hill in a shopping cart while on fire, the audience goes nuts when he sticks the landing.
It continues this way until the audience is convinced that this isn’t just a parlor trick, that it’s an actual feature of the player’s game. There are a lot more Chris Kamans in the world than Arvydas Sabonises, so it takes longer for the big guys to gain the public’s trust.
So when Alie-Cox, a chiseled, 6-foot-6, 250-pound power forward, found himself marooned with the ball atop the 3-point line with 14 minutes remaining in a six-point game Saturday night, he was met with the usual roar of curious encouragement. Calmly, Alie-Cox sized up the shot and buried it.
“That’s been a shot I’ve been working on all summer. Coach told me, if I’m wide open, shoot it. Or if I’m not, just go ahead and reverse it. They left me wide open, so I just hoisted up the shot and it went in,” Alie-Cox said afterwards.
November 17, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Despite the 7,700 rabid souls burying Winthrop under an avalanche of angst-tinged decibels draped in gold, despite the rising mercury inside the packed Verizon Wireless Arena, despite his frantic, Briante Weber-meets-R. Lee Ermey sideline demeanor, it was a couple of clock malfunctions that finally made Eagles’ Coach Pat Kelsey lose his cool in VCU’s 92-71 win Saturday.
Kelsey wore his suit coat buttoned up for the first 31 minutes of game time – VCU Coach Shaka Smart lasted exactly 23 seconds with his jacket on – before a clock glitch with nine minutes left inspired him to dispose of it rather dramatically. Kelsey shed the tailored garment as if it was on fire, before spiking it to the ground like a Brooks Brothers football. He also yelled angrily towards the timing crew, actions for which he immediately apologized.
The outburst occurred just as VCU began to distance itself from Kelsey’s plucky Winthrop club. What had been a four-point game minutes before was now 69-58 in the Rams’ favor, and VCU was beginning to tighten its grip under a hailstorm of pressure. Winthrop had successfully inbounded the ball on the play in question, only to be immediately halted by the referees’ whistles.
Kelsey later explained this behavior as Havoc-related.
November 15, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Although Terrance Shannon shared the Alamodome court with Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic that night in San Antonio, he does not share their cheerful recollection of the evening’s events.
It was March 25, 2011. Brandenberg and Reddic were freshmen on a VCU team in the midst of one of the NCAA Tournament’s most memorable Cinderella romps to the Final Four. Shannon, meanwhile, was on the opposing sideline of that Sweet 16 matchup as a member of a favored Florida State team. Those final moments are permanently pressed into the psyches of all three players; the Joey Rodriguez-to-Bradford Burgess inbounds play for the winning score in overtime, the Brandenberg blocked shot at the final horn that clinched a 72-71 VCU win and set Rams’ play-by-play broadcaster Robby Robinson on hyperbolic repeat.
Although it was nearly three years ago, Shannon hasn’t shaken the feeling.
“Here I don’t talk much about it because still to this day, I get mad every time I see a Final Four shirt or the picture of the 72-71 score in the coaches’ office,” he says through a disarming grin.