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
November 13, 2013
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 12, 2013
November 12, 2013
November 11, 2013
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
VCU-ILLINOIS STATE HIGHLIGHTS
POSTGAME: VCU PLAYERS (Terrance Shannon, Briante Weber, Juvonte Reddic)
POSTGAME: Shaka Smart
November 9, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Shaka Smart blew into his postgame press conference like the cool November breeze. He was, as always, polite, but curt. He was also direct. When asked if any of his players had turned in an “exceptional” performance Friday night, he barely entertained the thought.
“No,” he said, flatly.
He didn’t look like a guy who just watched his team open its season by thrashing Illinois State 96-58. He wasn’t so much upset as he was unsatisfied. He wasn’t angry, just pragmatic. Not that Smart would ever accept the first game of the season as anything but the maiden voyage of a five-month odyssey, but things have clearly changed. The Rams are the 14th-ranked team in the country. Smart’s personal Overton Window has shifted in step with the momentum of the program. His tone acknowledged that there was no value in a victory lap in November, especially not for a team with this kind of potential.
“It was our first game and the guys did a lot of good things, but we obviously have a lot to get better at,” Smart said.
It wasn’t obvious to everybody. A few minutes earlier, beleaguered Illinois State Coach Dan Muller capped his press conference by telling the assembled media: “Thanks guys. Sorry the game was so bad.”
To put that in perspective, after watching his squad get throttled for 40 minutes by the 14th-ranked team in the country, Muller felt compelled to apologize for the beating that he’d just received.
November 7, 2013
‘Twas the night before Havoc, and all through the stands,
Workers were prepping for the return of the Rams.
Players’ uniforms hung neatly in lockers with care,
In hopes that hoops soon would be there.
The fans were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of turnovers danced in their heads.
And the Rowdies in their t-shirts and Pav in his horns,
Began dreaming of a new season born.
When out on the court there arose such a ruckus,
They sprang to their feet see what ‘twas the fuss.
Away to the arena they dashed, their arms, they were flailing,
Threw open the doors and leaned over the railing.
The scoreboard cast a soft, warm glow on the refinished wood,
And gave luster to racks of basketballs that stood.
When, what to their wondering eyes should see afar,
But a Ram mascot and a team of all-stars.
November 6, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – In English, the Nigerian name Uzoamaka translates to something along the lines of, the good road, or the road is beautiful. It’s fitting, since Uzoamaka Ibeh’s road to this time and place has been an undeniably a good one.
But Ibeh’s path has also been distinct, and to her, the road looks a lot different than to most, both literally and figuratively. Not only has the VCU redshirt sophomore and Colonia, N.J. native defied the odds, the way she views the world has taught her to be dismissive of those odds.
She sees the world differently not only because she chooses to, but because she has to. Ibeh is legally blind in her left eye.
If the idea of someone playing a fast-paced Division I sport like volleyball, in which uncommon hand-eye coordination is essential, shocks you, it’s okay, Ibeh gets that reaction a lot. But it’s her matter-of-fact approach to her disability that’s probably most notable.
“Sports, with my vision, it never stopped me,” says Ibeh, who will turn 21 on Nov. 11. “I just kept it to myself, honestly.”
When Ibeh was seven years old, she says a teacher recommended she see an optometrist. During the exam, the doctor asked her to cover her right eye and read a chart of letters on the wall. Not only could Ibeh not read the chart, she couldn’t see the wall or anything else. The optometrist tried to correct the problem by placing different sets of prescription lenses in front of Ibeh’s left eye. It didn’t matter. Ibeh saw nothing.
“And I was like, ‘isn’t that normal,’” she recalled. “He asked if had always been like this, and I said, ‘yeah.’ He said, ‘that’s not normal.’
November 5, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – The first game of every season presents a little bit of the unknown, but this VCU opener may offer a little more mystery than usual.
The Rams tip off their anticipated 2013-14 season on Friday (7 p.m.) against Illinois State at the Verizon Wireless Arena. While the Redbirds were an 18-15 team a year ago, that information is essentially, uh, for the birds. This year’s Illinois State team features 10 newcomers. The Redbirds return a grand total of eight percent of their scoring from last year. ISU’s leading returning scorer is sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft, who averaged 4.5 points per game last year.
So, this is essentially a brand new team for second-year Redbirds Coach Dan Muller. While that presents a unique set of challenges for Muller, it will also give VCU Coach Shaka Smart a few headaches.
“One of the biggest challenges is that we don’t know a whole lot about them because they’ve got so many new players from a personnel standpoint,” Smart admitted Monday at his weekly press conference.