November 30, 2013
Briante Weber, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Johnson, Mo Alie-Cox, Northeastern Huskies, Shaka Smart, Treveon Graham
Treveon Graham led VCU with 24 points Friday.
RICHMOND, Va. – On the busiest shopping day of the year, VCU made sure to stop by the Siegel Center to pick up an important victory. Like Big Hugs Elmo dolls, they are in demand, and require a certain level of grit, persistence and focus to procure one; Although the eye-gouging was left to the Target parking lot squabbles.
There’s no such thing as a “must-win” game in November, but there are the kind that you’d really like to have, and even the kind you probably really need. VCU’s 79-66 win over Northeastern Friday at the Verizon Wireless Arena is likely some combination of both.
VCU, coming off a 1-2 trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off last week, which including a stinging blowout loss to Florida State and a frustratingly just-out-of-reach setback to Georgetown, came home looking to get well. The Rams were trying to do so against a Northeastern team that has traditionally been a tough out for VCU…and had just beaten Georgetown…and played Florida State to the wire…and VCU was without two of its top eight players in Jordan Burgess (knee sprain) and Terrance Shannon (family matter).
This would not be a Black Friday giveaway. If the Rams were going to put Puerto Rico in their rearview mirror, they were going to have to earn it in the claw-your-way-past-Wal-Mart-shoppers way.
November 18, 2013
Jamie Skeen, Jarred Guest, Juvonte Reddic, Mo Alie-Cox, Pat Kelsey, Shaka Smart, VCU beats Winthrop 92-71, Wintrhop Eagles
Freshman Mo Alie-Cox sparked VCU with 10 points and six rebounds Saturday.
RICHMOND, Va. – Sorry, Mo Alie-Cox, we didn’t know any better.
Generally, whenever a power forward or center finds himself on an island beyond the 3-point arc, the audience treats it like a stunt from Jackass. They egg the big guy on until he agrees and lets the shot fly, then they gasp in horror. And much like the guy who rides down a steep hill in a shopping cart while on fire, the audience goes nuts when he sticks the landing.
It continues this way until the audience is convinced that this isn’t just a parlor trick, that it’s an actual feature of the player’s game. There are a lot more Chris Kamans in the world than Arvydas Sabonises, so it takes longer for the big guys to gain the public’s trust.
So when Alie-Cox, a chiseled, 6-foot-6, 250-pound power forward, found himself marooned with the ball atop the 3-point line with 14 minutes remaining in a six-point game Saturday night, he was met with the usual roar of curious encouragement. Calmly, Alie-Cox sized up the shot and buried it.
“That’s been a shot I’ve been working on all summer. Coach told me, if I’m wide open, shoot it. Or if I’m not, just go ahead and reverse it. They left me wide open, so I just hoisted up the shot and it went in,” Alie-Cox said afterwards.
November 3, 2013
Bill Brown, Bradford Burgess, Briante Weber, California (Pa.) Vulcans, Doug Brooks, JeQuan Lewis, Jordan Burgess, Juvonte Reddic, Mo Alie-Cox, Rob Brandenberg, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon, Treveon Graham
Despite a lot of offseason chatter fouls slid into the background of VCU’s 92-54 win.
RICHMOND, Va. – It’s a bit of a fishing expedition to find a reasonable narrative in these mismatched Division I-Division II exhibition games. There’s a desire to look at the scoreboard, which showed that VCU earned a 92-54 win over California (Pa.) Saturday night, and extrapolate 100 superlatives from the wreckage of the box score. More often than not, it’s fool’s gold.
But Saturday, even as I waded through some impressive, if not gaudy, statistics, I was still struck by the depth of talent on this VCU team. If Shaka Smart truly desires a 10 or 11-man rotation, it sure looks like he’s got the horses to do it.
Smart essentially rotated 11 players in the first half and 10 in the second after Rob Brandenberg exited with back spasms. While there were moments of youthful frustration, there was hardly a dramatic drop-off in ability.
Freshman Doug Brooks led VCU in scoring with 14 points in 13 minutes of play. For most of those 13 minutes, he looked like Briante Weber with a better jumper and a disinterested barber.
October 13, 2013
Black and Gold Game, Briante Weber, Doug Brooks, Jairus Lyles, JeQuan Lewis, Jordan Burgess, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Johnson, Mo Alie-Cox, Rob Brandenberg, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon, Treveon Graham
Sophomore Melvin Johnson led all players with 25 points Sunday.
RICHMOND, Va. – VCU held an intra-squad exhibition Sunday night before 3,187 excited souls at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. It was many people’s, myself included, first chance to get a look at the 2013-14 Rams. While the Gold team came away with a 72-56 win, the score was little more than a matter of academics.
Here are some observations from courtside.
1-Guards, guards, guards and guards
To any fan who has followed this team of late, this is no surprise. VCU was expected to be deep in the backcourt this year. But until we got a chance to see a Jairus Lyles no-look pass or one of Doug Brooks’ four steals, it was hard to know how deep. If Sunday is any indication, uh, the Rams are insanely deep at the wings.
Returnees Rob Brandenberg, Briante Weber, Melvin Johnson and (if we’re calling him a guard today) Treveon Graham were pretty much the guys we knew they were. But JeQuan Lewis, Lyles, Doug Brooks and Jordan Burgess all had moments and illustrated how difficult a choice Shaka Smart will have when doling out minutes.
Lyles was magnetic for long stretches of the second half and he might end up being the Rams’ fourth option at point guard. Think about that. Lyles finished with eight points, six assists (two turnovers) and three steals.
September 18, 2013
Antravious Simmons, Briante Weber, JeQuan Lewis, Melvin Johnson, Men's Basketball photo day, Mo Alie-Cox, Rob Brandenberg, Treveon Graham
I dropped in on men’s basketball photo day earlier and snapped a few photos with my iPhone. They’re obviously phone quality, but at least you guys get a peek at the new uniforms and some of the guys.
June 7, 2013
Bradford Burgess, Jordan Burgess, Mo Alie-Cox, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon
Terrance Shannon averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 20 games last season.
SHANNON ADDS DEPTH, INTRIGUE TO VCU LINEUP
RICHMOND, Va. – VCU Basketball under Coach Shaka Smart has been known for many things: Havoc, quickness, speed, creating chaos, high energy; descriptors of a dynamic category. While there are plenty of ways to paint a picture of the Rams’ style of play, “physical” has not been one of the more popular adjectives.
But Smart hopes the addition of Florida State transfer Terrance Shannon, as well as other newcomers, will help change the way the Rams play and, in turn, are perceived.
Shannon transferred to VCU in May and will be eligible immediately under an NCAA provision that allows graduating seniors to transfer and play without sitting out a year. Shannon graduated from Florida State in May and will have one year of eligibility remaining.
A 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward, Shannon averaged 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in 72 career appearances. Last season, he averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds and swiped 23 steals in 20 games. He earned a medical redshirt in 2011-12 after a shoulder injury limited him to just seven games.
Although occasionally beset by injuries at Florida State, Shannon gives the Rams a battle-tested post presence who can spell All-Conference forward Juvonte Reddic or play alongside him.
July 25, 2012
A-10, Atlantic 10, Briante Weber, Dave Telep, Jordan Burgess, Justin Tuoyo, Melvin Johnson, Mo Alie-Cox, Paul Biancardi, Recruiting, Shaka Smart
Jordan Burgess is one of two top-100 rated recruits in VCU’s 2012 recruiting class.
RICHMOND, Va. – VCU’s late signing of top-100 guard Melvin Johnson was the Rams’ first since joining the Atlantic 10 on July 1. The evidence suggests it won’t be the last big splash for Shaka Smart and his staff.
The Rams will welcome a pair of four-star recruits this year in Johnson and swingman Jordan Burgess, as well as highly-regarded forwards Justin Tuoyo and Mo-Alie Cox to complete a recruiting class that has earned much praise.
It’s been a long time since VCU landed a four-star or top-100 recruit that wasn’t a transfer. Now the Rams will have two joining the program in the same year. But it’s not just significant locally. VCU is turning heads nationally.
“This is the first year I can remember where a [non-power six conference] program not named Gonzaga has had two top 100 players,” said Dave Telep, recruiting guru and ESPN senior national basketball analyst.
VCU has undoubtedly benefited in recruiting circles from its Final Four appearance in 2011, as well as its move from the CAA to the A10, but the biggest factor in the amount of talent the Rams are able to put out on the floor stalks the sidelines of the Verizon Wireless Arena.
“I think the personality and real charisma and star power Shaka Smart has really keeps [VCU] alive in a lot of instances,” Telep said.
July 13, 2012
D.J. Haley, David Hinton, Jordan Burgess, Justin Tuoyo, Mo Alie-Cox, Shaka Smart, Treveon Graham
VCU players will be seeing a lot more of this man this summer.
RICHMOND, Va. – It’s hard enough to get Shaka Smart to take a vacation, but now? It’s going to take one heck of an advertising pitch to pull the VCU coach away from Richmond now.
In years past, the summer was a steady stream of pickup hoops and loosely-tethered together workouts. Coaches were not allowed to run practices or have much contact with their players.
But this year, thanks to a change in NCAA legislation in January, teams are allowed to run full practices with coaching staffs for up to two hours a day and up to eight hours a week for eight weeks. All returning players in good academic standing and incoming freshmen enrolled in summer school are allowed to participate.
That the changes have been welcomed by coaches should come as no surprise, but many players see the value in them as well.
“I think it’s a lot more fun,” said senior David Hinton. “You get to see the coaches in the summer. You had that big gap before where the coaches worked you out in the spring, but you really didn’t see them again until the fall. [The coaches] won’t be as anxious in the fall. They monitor your progress all summer, and they help you out and improve your game more.”