VIDEO: VCU THROTTLES BUTLER

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VIDEO: BRIFENSE AND A SHOWTIME DUNK

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ON NATIONAL STAGE, VCU, HAVOC STAR IN STATEMENT WIN

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Senior Troy Daniels provided a game-high 20 points in VCU's win over Butler Saturday.

Senior Troy Daniels provided a game-high 20 points in VCU’s win over Butler Saturday.

RICHMOND, Va. – Moments before his team took the floor for Saturday’s highly anticipated game with 20th-ranked Butler, VCU Coach Shaka Smart wrote two simple words on a whiteboard in the locker room: Be VCU.

What followed was one of the most thorough dissections of a top 25 team you’ll ever see, an 84-52 browbeating that should turn heads. VCU was everything Smart wanted and more. The Rams were VCU, but they were VCU in the Hulk’s body, wearing Superman’s cape. VCU was about as good a version of itself as possible. The Rams were the Five Horsemen of Havoc, laying waste to the Bulldogs in a way not seen in Coach Brad Stevens six seasons. It was Butler’s worst loss in a conference game since the 1985-86 season.

It’s Smart’s job to find the wrong in VCU’s performance Saturday, but he’s going to dig a little deeper this time around.

“I don’t think this game went perfectly at all,” he said. “I thought our response to what happened was close to perfect…if anything was perfect, it was our guy’s commitment to our plan and our goal.”

Hey, he’s got to say things like that.

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SHAKA SMART TALKS A-10, BUTLER ON BRANDO

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GHOSTS OF HOUSTON WATCH, BUT WON’T DICTATE NEXT CHAPTER OF BUTLER SERIES

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Rob Brandenberg played seven minutes as a freshman against Butler in the 2011 National Semifinal

Rob Brandenberg played seven minutes as a freshman against Butler in the 2011 National Semifinal

RICHMOND, Va. – Monday night, after a long day of recruiting, Shaka Smart did it. He finally watched the game tape of VCU’s 70-62 loss to Butler on April 2, 2011 at the Final Four. First, he watched clips of VCU’s press versus the Bulldogs, then he watched the game in its entirety. He told himself he wouldn’t get upset.

In today’s world of college basketball there are staffers, usually a graduate assistant, assigned with procuring a DVD of a game literally moments after the final horn sounds. From there, the footage is cut, spliced, splintered, scrunched, scrinched and repackaged in a Wonka-like process that has an easily consumable copy in the hands of the coaching staff by dawn. The raw game tape, meanwhile, is usually devoured by coaches before you can get from the arena to your pillow.

But not this game. Too painful.

However, with Saturday’s rematch with Butler at the Siegel Center looming, Smart knew the time had come. In the name of assembling a tactical plan for the Rams’ biggest game of the season, after nearly 700 days of avoidance, Smart cued up video of the biggest game of his life. He didn’t get upset, but he didn’t like what he saw, either.

“It’s amazing when you set your mind on something what you can do. I just told myself I wasn’t going to get upset. I knew that we lost the game, so, just watch it objectively,” he said Wednesday.

“They were the better team that day.”

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DUQUESNE HIGHLIGHTS/POSTGAME

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I know there’s a few people out there that enjoy Shaka Smart’s postgame comments, so I’ll try to keep posting them. Here’s Coach Smart after Saturday’s win at Duquesne:

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And because this can’t be posted enough:

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER

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VCU and Butler met at the 2011 Final Four in Houston. Butler earned a 70-62 win, despite 27 points from VCU’s Jamie Skeen.

Last year, this would’ve been just another Tuesday in June at VCU Athletics HQ. Instead, the Atlantic 10 (16!) released men’s basketball home and road opponents for each school Tuesday, sending the Twitterverse into a type of frenzy normally reserved for March Madness and Kate Middleton.

In a 16-team league, VCU wasn’t going to get every team on its wish list at home. There’s only 16 games with which to see the league, eight of them on the road. How did the Rams do? In terms of Buzz Factor, pretty good.

The Rams will partner and play home and home with Richmond. That was essentially a given. After that, the only thing anybody cared about was which teams were coming to the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, sponsored by Goody’s, McDonald’s, M&M’s and Nationwide, brought to you by Gatorade?

Here’s who will be visiting: Butler, Dayton, Fordham, George Washington, LaSalle, UMass, Richmond and Saint Joseph’s.  That’s a pretty good slate right there. Butler, Dayton, UMass and Saint Joe’s all have varying degrees of name-recognition.

This is my quickie “must-see” meter for VCU’s A-10 home dates:

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