November 20, 2013
Florida State Seminoles, Leonard Hamilton, Okaro White, Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon
VCU senior Terrance Shannon prepares to face his former Florida State teammates Thursday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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
Jamie Skeen, Jarred Guest, Juvonte Reddic, Mo Alie-Cox, Pat Kelsey, Shaka Smart, VCU beats Winthrop 92-71, Wintrhop Eagles
Freshman Mo Alie-Cox sparked VCU with 10 points and six rebounds Saturday.
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
Briante Weber, JeQuan Lewis, Pat Kelsey, Shaka Smart, Winthrop Eagles
Briante Weber sparked VCU – and Havoc- with 16 points, 5 steals and 4 assists Saturday.
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
Juvonte Reddic, Rob Brandenberg, Terrance Shannon
Florida State transfer Terrance Shannon scored 14 points in his VCU debut versus Illinois State.
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.
November 13, 2013
Treveon Graham, Treveon Graham game-winning 3-pointer UVA, Virginia Cavaliers
If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that our best moments need to be replayed in a continuous electronic loop. I’m just happy to contribute. With or without this gif, Rams fans will remember Graham’s 22 points, game-winning 3-pointer and that snarl for many years to come.
November 13, 2013
Jordan Burgess, Shaka Smart, Treveon Graham, VCU beats Virginia
Treveon Graham hit the game-winner as VCU wrestled a Virginia-style victory away from the Cavaliers.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Treveon Graham has scored 832 points in his 74 games as a Ram, and he’s a safe bet for many, many more, but VCU fans are going to savor these three for a while.
Graham scored 22 points Tuesday night, including a lightning bolt 3-pointer from NBA range with 1.4 seconds left to give the 14th-ranked Rams a 59-56, meat grinder road victory at 25th-ranked Virginia.
It’s a shot, and a win, that will likely echo for years in Richmond. But beyond where the moment ranks for VCU fans in the annals, it has immediately become an important victory for this team; one that showcased the Rams’ potential, and one that could pay dividends down the road.
In a season where already much has been expected of the Rams (see their No. 14 national ranking), this was an early delivery on that promise. Although just the second game of the season, this contest, played before a crowd of nearly 14,000, held March-Madness, title-fight intensity. Rams’ Coach Shaka Smart may try to pump the brakes on the excitement over what is a single, November victory, but regardless, Tuesday’s win will remain notable.
This is the type of game critics said VCU couldn’t win. They said that the Rams’ up-tempo, chaotic Havoc style couldn’t translate against a team like Virginia. The Cavaliers, with their Pack Line defense and deliberate motion offense, were the kind of match-up problem that was supposed to be able to stop Havoc. And it did, for the most part.
But that’s kind of the point.
November 11, 2013
Dick Bennett, John Paul Jones Arena, Mark Few, Shaka Smart, Tony Bennett, Virginia Cavaliers
Junior Treveon Graham will lead VCU into Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena Tuesday.
RICHMOND, Va. – About 70 miles separate the campuses of VCU and Virginia, a little more than an hour for even the most conservative drivers. But it’s the figurative divide, not the physical, between the two schools that has kept their men’s basketball teams apart for 15 years.
On Tuesday, the series between VCU and Virginia, on sabbatical since Rams’ Coach Shaka Smart was a senior at Kenyon College, resumes at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. It’s a marquee match-up of ranked squads. The Rams are 14th in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, while the Cavaliers are 25th.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for both teams and for all the fans of college basketball in the area,” Smart said Monday at his weekly press conference. “There’s a lot of great basketball that goes on throughout the year in Virginia, in the Mid-Atlantic Region, but for this early in the year, for two teams that are in the top 25 to play one another…I think that’s what it’s all about.”
But the strength of the match-up might not be the most remarkable element of Tuesday’s contest. It’s that the game is happening at all.
Part of a home-and-home series between the two schools (UVA will visit VCU in ’14-15), the game likely owes its existence as much to the mid-major roots of Virginia Coach Tony Bennett and the friendship between he and Smart, as it does the standing of the two programs.
VCU and Virginia last met in a game on Nov. 13, 1998 in Richmond, an 86-70 Cavaliers’ win. That contest was originally scheduled as VCU’s grand debut in the Stuart C. Siegel Center, but construction delays prevented the arena from opening until the following season. Instead, it was played at Richmond’s Robins Center.
November 11, 2013
Briante Weber, Illinois State Redbirds, Juvonte Reddic, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon
VCU-ILLINOIS STATE HIGHLIGHTS
POSTGAME: VCU PLAYERS (Terrance Shannon, Briante Weber, Juvonte Reddic)
POSTGAME: Shaka Smart