FOR RAMS, TOP 25 IS A FANCY PIT STOP ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY

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VCU is currently ranked 22nd in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, released Monday.

VCU is currently ranked 22nd in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, released Monday.

RICHMOND, Va. – It’s been 27 years since VCU broke into the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, but senior Darius Theus doesn’t view the Rams’ No. 22 ranking as a destination. It’s more like a train stop in Rochester on the way to Detroit.

“We’ve got to get better,” Theus said Tuesday. “Top 25, that’s good. [But] can we be top 10 or can we be top five? We want to get better. We want better than that.”

That’s the prevailing attitude around the Rams this week. The top 25 is nice, but it’s January. Nobody remembers teams that were ranked in January. You make your name in March.

It’s why Theus, VCU’s point guard and captain, is helping Coach Shaka Smart pump the brakes on the top 25 talk.

“We’ve just got to stay humble and stay hungry,” Theus said. “What are we, 22? We want to be better than that. I think we’ve got the guys that are bought into Coach Smart’s plan and process to not be focused on that type of stuff.”

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SMART BRUSHES OFF TOP-25 TALK, EYES DAYTON

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VCU Coach Shaka Smart doesn't put much stock in the Rams' entry into the USA Today Coaches Poll.

VCU Coach Shaka Smart doesn’t put much stock in the Rams’ entry into the USA Today Coaches Poll.

RICHMOND, Va. – VCU’s 12-3 non-conference record has helped win the program some affection on the road to respectability. The Rams are ranked 24th in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll, released Monday. It’s VCU’s first top-25 ranking during the regular season since 1985. The Rams are also the last team outside the Associated Press Top 25 Poll this week.

One person that isn’t particularly impressed is VCU Coach Shaka Smart, who, coincidentally, is a voter in the Coaches Poll. Does Smart find the Rams’ newfound top-25 status significant?

“No,” the coach flatly replied Monday.

Smart has more pressing matters, namely the Rams’ Atlantic 10 Conference opener Wednesday against Dayton at the Verizon Wireless Arena, to tend to. That, and the fact that a top 25 ranking can’t make jumpers and won’t run a diamond press.

“I think rankings are for fans and for the media, not so much for players and coaches,” Smart said. “When we take the floor they’ll be five of us against five of them from Dayton and they have just as much of a right to win as we do. It’s going to be a matter of who plays best on that night.”

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