SHAKA SMART MEDIA MINUTES (JAN. 20)

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Smart talks Dayton, energy plays, the A-10 and much more.

VIDEO: VCU DEFEATS DAYTON

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HAVOC MAKES PROMINENT A-10 DEBUT

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VCU's Briante Weber produced nine steals in the Rams' A-10 opener against Dayton Wednesday.

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.

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YEAH, THAT’LL DO

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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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