March 16, 2013
A-10 Tournament, Atlantic 10 Tournament, Barclays Center, Briante Weber, Chaz Williams, Shaka Smart, Troy Daniels., UMass Minutemen
Senior Troy Daniels knocked down 6-of-9 threes Saturday and finished with 20 points.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Shaka Smart tried to warn us. Troy Daniels is a stone-cold gunner from beyond the 3-point arc.
Those aren’t Smart’s actual words. He said something more like, “Troy Daniels is the best shooter I’ve ever coached,” many, many times during the senior’s career. But I like my version better. Because on Saturday, Daniels answered the call for the Rams in one of, if not the biggest spots in his career, so I used more interesting adjectives.
Behind the Roanoke senior’s 20 points – most importantly his 6-of-9 three-point shooting – VCU withstood UMass and secured a 71-62 win in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals Saturday night at Barclays Center.
The victory sends VCU, playing in its inaugural season in the A-10, to a Championship Game match-up with 16th-ranked Saint Louis on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Daniels’ lights-out shooting was the kind of performance that showed everybody why Smart was comfortable placing such a strong label on his senior during his career.
“He’s just a great shooter,” Smart said of Daniels, who has hit 240 career 3-pointers. “He’s the best shooter I’ve ever coached. He’s always been terrific in practice, but his first couple of years he had a hard time playing with the confidence to go out and shoot the ball in. Today he did, and all year he has and that’s why he’s one of the top single-season 3-point shooter in Atlantic 10 history.
“We need him to make threes because that’s a big part of what we do. I think it fits in well with our style of play and our guys do a nice job of finding him.”
March 15, 2013
A-10 Tournament, Atlantic 10 Tournament, Briante Weber, Darius Theus, Justin Tuoyo, Melvin Johnson, Rolando Lamb, Saint Joseph's Hawks, Shaka Smart, Troy Daniels.
Freshman Melvin Johnson (12 points) was one of several of VCU’s young reserves who were key Thursday.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – There was freshman Justin Tuoyo, all alone on the right wing. He’d barely played the last month and had missed 12 of his previous 14 three-pointers this season. From behind my position, a Saint Joseph’s fan, who had apparently done some advance scouting, shouted, “He can’t shoot a three, let him shoot it.”
Tuoyo promptly sized up the three and canned it.
Instead of hesitating or letting nerves overcome him on a big stage, the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals, Tuoyo stuck to the aggressive, attacking principles that Rams’ Coach Shaka Smart preaches.
At the time the bucket didn’t seem terribly significant. It gave the Rams a 64-47 lead with 8:11 remaining. But Saint Joseph’s, namely Carl Jones (29 points) and Langston Galloway (25 points), wouldn’t quit and managed to whittle the final margin to 82-79.
After the game, Smart was quick to remind Tuoyo of that bucket.
“I told him in the locker room after the game, I know it’s just one shot, but I don’t know if you noticed, but we won by three, and you hit a three,” Smart said. “So we needed every basket, and I think overall, just the contribution that he made in 14 minutes says a lot about his future.”
March 12, 2013
A-10, All A-10, Atlantic 10 Conference, Briante Weber, Jim Crews, Juvonte Reddic, Khalif Wyatt, Melvin Johnson, Semaj Christon, Treveon Graham
The Atlantic 10 Conference is procedurally different from the CAA in a number of areas, including voting for All-Conference awards. Whereas the CAA used a pool of 48 media members, SIDs and coaches, the A-10 is a strictly coaches voting pool. That doesn’t mean we have to sit this one out, however. We have a blog, you know.
Also, these picks were a part of the Duquesne Sports Blog’s voting pool for their All A-10 awards, so feel free to check out how the collective A-10 blogosphere feels.
Below are what would be my All Atlantic 10 Conference picks. Feel free to discuss, but take it easy on me. I’m sensitive.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Khalif Wyatt, Temple
Why: I didn’t really need further confirmation, but after Sunday’s performance against VCU, it took me all of about four seconds to write in Wyatt’s name here. The 6-foot-4 senior guard, who has five 30-point performances this season, leads the league in scoring (19.9 ppg) is seventh in assists (4.1 apg) and ninth in steals (1.6 spg). Easy pick.|
Also considered: I’m checking to see if Jameer Nelson is eligible.
Khalif Wyatt, Temple
Rotnei Clarke, Butler
Ramon Galloway, La Salle
Juvonte Reddic, VCU
Treveon Graham, VCU
March 1, 2013
Briante Weber, Havoc, Ramburglar, Rolando Lamb
Sophomore Briante Weber is piling up steals at record pace.
RICHMOND, Va. – In 1989, Energizer Batteries scored a marketing victory when it introduced the Energizer Bunny, a pink, sunglass-wearing, bass-drum pounding, stuffed rabbit that shuffles, presumably, in perpetuity. It became a pop-culture icon and embedded itself in the national lexicon as a THE metaphor for someone or something with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
I’m appreciative of the Energizer Bunny’s legacy, because it allows me to describe the play of supercharged VCU guard Briante Weber effectively to the uninitiated. If Weber dresses up as the Energizer Bunny for Halloween next year, I will lose my mind.
He’s a unique talent, Weber. An angular, 6-foot-3, 165-pound sophomore wing with a 45-inch vertical leap, he doesn’t necessarily fit into the tidy positional descriptions we’ve come to accept: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, etc. What is he? He can play some point guard, yes. But most of the time he’s swooping around the court as if he’s on fire, creating havoc on defense.
Defense in basketball has never been as easily quantified as offense. You can more easily judge the efficiency of a player by his shooting percentages, scoring averages, assist-to-turnover ratio. Defense can be a little murkier. But for VCU and Coach Shaka Smart, you can draw a number of conclusions about the Rams’ effectiveness on defense by the number of turnovers they force, many via the steal. That’s where Weber’s impact is most easily understood.
February 14, 2013
Shaka Smart, Rob Brandenberg, Darius Theus, Briante Weber, UMass Minutemen, Derek Kellogg, Chaz Williams, Little Einsteins
Chaz Williams (7.1 apg) leads the A-10′s most up-tempo offense.
RICHMOND, Va. – Parenting is an immersive culture. It seems like only yesterday you were planning your buddy’s insane-but-can’t-talk-about-it bachelor party, and then one day you wake up and find yourself half awake, unknowingly singing the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” song in the checkout line at Target with dried Gerber’s beets on your collar.
It’s from this frame of mind that I come to you today. It’s why when I thought about VCU and UMass trying to match each other’s energy, aggression and tempo Thursday night at the Siegel Center, the “Little Einsteins” came to mind. Folks, this how I’m living these days, large and in charge.
Basically, the kids in the Little Einsteins cartoon fly around in a rocket that is fueled by beats. The faster they pat their legs – while calling out tempo words like “moderato”, “allegro” and “presto” – the faster the jet soars through the sky. If you’ve never seen it, this probably doesn’t make sense to you. Actually, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Let’s move along, allegrissimo, because I sense I’ve crossed over into the ridiculous.
Anyway, it gave me a vision of UMass Coach Derek Kellogg patting his quads to spur on rocket point guard Chaz Williams, who averages 16.1 points, 7.1 assists and has ripped 45 steals. Behind the play of its athletic catalyst, UMass ranks 22nd in the country in adjusted tempo and second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring (72.6 ppg).
January 9, 2013
Shaka Smart, Troy Daniels., Briante Weber, Treveon Graham, A-10, Dayton Flyers, Havoc, Atlantic 10 Conference, Stripe the Stu, Archie Miller, Kevin Dillard
VCU’s Briante Weber produced nine steals in the Rams’ A-10 opener against Dayton Wednesday.
RICHMOND, Va. – You can’t replicate it in practice. You can’t fully appreciate it on TV. You have to be here to understand the claustrophobic grip VCU’s Havoc can slip around opposing teams.
On Wednesday, the Rams’ frenzied pressure introduced itself to the Atlantic 10 Conference, namely the Dayton Flyers on this night, before packed Siegel Center. VCU’s trademark defensive pressure, like metal grinding on metal, served as an agent of attrition and pushed Dayton (10-5, 0-1 A-10) into a breakdown state over the course of the game. As legs tired and the intensity rose, the Flyers’ miscues multiplied and allowed the Rams (13-3, 1-0) to pull away for a 74-62 win in the first A-10 game in VCU history.
After just four turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game, Dayton committed 22 in the final 32 minutes. In all, the Rams outscored the Flyers 30-5 off turnovers on the way to their 10th straight victory.
“I think our press had a cumulative effect,” VCU Coach Shaka Smart said in perhaps one of this season’s bigger understatements.
December 19, 2012
Baja Bean Free Nachos, Briante Weber, Jon Rothstein, Western Kentucky Basketball, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
CBS’ Jon Rothstein was in attendance at the Western Kentucky game Tuesday and later went on air and chatted Briante Weber, Shaka and free nachos.
Thanks to “redskinram” on RamNation for uploading the video.
December 8, 2012
Briante Weber, Darius Theus, Old Dominion, Old Dominion Monarchs, Shaka Smart, Troy Daniels.
Senior Troy Daniels tied a school record with eight 3-pointers in Friday’s win at Old Dominion
NORFOLK, Va. –Scott Day was at lunch this summer when the call came in from Shaka Smart. The VCU coach wanted to ask his sports information director, “what was the school record for 3-pointers in a game?”
Day didn’t have to look up the answer; it wasn’t the first time Smart had asked this question. “Eight”, he told the Rams’ fourth-year coach.
“Troy will get that this year,” Smart said, referring to senior shooting guard Troy Daniels.
In the moment, it was clear that Smart’s insistence over the years that Daniels was an elite shooter – the best he’s ever coached, he said – wasn’t some calculated pressroom creation or public coaching ploy to prop up his senior’s confidence. He believed every word of it.
Friday, Daniels rewarded Smart for his faith when he tied Bo Jones’ 13-year-old school record with eight 3-pointers in the Rams’ 83-70 win at Old Dominion. Daniels hit eight of his first 10 from long range and finished 8-of-13 from that distance. He scored a career-high 24 points.
It’s probably not fair to watch Daniels hit a school-record 94 three-pointers last year and still expect more, but many observers did. But Smart’s steadfast endorsements of Daniels’ marksmanship in practice foretold of nights when he could break an opponent’s back with a series of long range bombs, of nights when he’d hit six, seven, eight 3-pointers and leave opposing coaches with nothing left but to tip their caps. Friday was one of those nights.