TROY DANIELS IS RIDICULOUS

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Here’s Troy Daniels, you know, the former Ram, undrafted free agent rookie, scoring 17 points in the second NBA Playoff game of his life. I’m not going to say much more because I’m running out of superlatives for Daniels, other than to add, rather obviously, that he’s perhaps the best story of the first round of the playoffs. Houston’s down 3-1 in the series to Portland, so hopefully Daniels has a few heroics left in the holster so we can KEEP WATCHING TROY DANIELS BURY THREES FOR DAYS.

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TROY DANIELS IS A ROCKET, MAN

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Troy Daniels was recalled from the NBA D-League Wednesday. So the former VCU 3-point gunner hopped on a plane and met the Houston Rockets in Denver and started bombing threes from the airport terminal. Well, almost.

The Rockets trailed by 17 heading into the fourth quarter, so they unloaded their bench of D-League All-Stars, including Daniels. It took Daniels about .7 seconds to start firing away. In all, the former Ram hit 4-of-6 triples to help the Rockets rally to within six. Prior to Wednesday, Daniels had played a grand total of eight NBA minutes. After this 12-point, 11-minute performance, you’ve got to think Rockets’ Coach Kevin McHale (responsible for one of the greatest episodes of “Cheers” in history) will consider getting his rookie shooting guard a little more burn the last four games of the regular season.

And look, we have highlights! Thanks Internets!

VIDEO: TROY DANIELS SCORES HIS FIRST NBA POINTS

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Awesome moment for Troy Daniels. Here are his first two buckets as a Houston Rocket. Naturally, his first NBA bucket was a three. The first of many, we hope.

PROLIFIC DANIELS TAKES AIM AT NBA

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Former Ram Troy Daniels set a D-League record for 3-pointers on Jan. 29. He has 159 treys this season.

Former Ram Troy Daniels set a D-League record for 3-pointers on Jan. 29. He has 159 treys this season.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Feb. 3, Troy Daniels was selected for the D-League All-Star Game on Feb. 15.

Early in training camp, Nevada Smith laid out one of the more unconventional elements of his coaching philosophy: he wanted his team, the NBA D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers, to shoot more than 40 three-pointers a game.

While it’s a strategy that was sure to rankle a few traditionalists, Troy Daniels felt like he’d hit the lottery.

“Oh yeah. I was like a kid in a candy store,” said Daniels, a 2013 VCU graduate and D-League rookie.

Daniels’ basketball career is nothing if not prolific. Last season, he hit a VCU-record 124 three-pointers, 32 more than the previous mark. In a game against East Tennessee State last year, Daniels bombed 11 triples – many from NBA range. In his four-year career, 85 percent of his field goal attempts came from beyond the 3-point arc.

In other words, he was born to play in this offense.

The results have been historic. In 29 games with the Vipers, an affiliate of the Houston Rockets, Daniels has been one of the D-League’s breakout stars, averaging 23.4 points and a league-high 5.5 three-pointers per game. On Jan. 29, Daniels hit his 153rd three-pointer to break the D-League mark of 152, set by Andy Rautins, and did so in 21 fewer games. He is now 159-of-392 from three in 29 games.

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CATCHING UP WITH BERNARD HARRIS

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Bernard Harris (center) with Gerald Lee Sr. (right) and Ervin Latimer (photo credit Gerald Lee Jr.).

Although the wild, expansive afro from college is long gone, Bernard Harris doesn’t appear far removed from the 6-foot-9 string bean from Roanoke who helped guide the VCU Basketball program through its formative years.

Now 62, Harris could pass for a man 10-12 years his junior. His lean frame is intact, but with some added muscle.

“I guess my conditioning is partly good genes, and the fact that I enjoy playing and working out,” Harris said recently, via email. “It’s not easy!”

He’s aged well, but not just physically. Harris’ career has also remained vibrant over the years. Nearly a decade removed from his days as a player and coach in Finland’s top pro league, where he became a star and earned national celebrity, Harris seems to have transitioned smoothly.

VCU fans may still know him as “Supernard”, but these days, Harris is more commonly referred to as Benkku, an oft-mononymous Finnish basketball institution who came ashore more than 30 years ago.

Benkku is how most of the kids of the Get In The Game program, Harris’ 10-year-old youth sports initiative sponsored by Finland’s Ministry of Education, know the former VCU star. That, and the and children’s book on basketball he wrote in the late 80s and the spin-off cable TV program that ran for two seasons in the 90s.

Get In The Game, for which Harris serves as president, aims to use athletics to promote fitness and healthy living, while steering kids clear of drugs and alcohol. Harris conducts tennis and basketball summer camps and also speaks at high schools about the dangers of substance abuse. According to the organization’s website,  Get In The Game has made visits to more than 250 schools in the last 10 years. The program has produced a number of TV programs with Finnish sports stars to the same end, including “Benkku’s All-Star Bowling“. Get In The Game has also held a number of youth tennis camps in Finland with VCU Tennis Coach Paul Kostin.

For a guy whose basketball career looked at one point as if it would continue in perpetuity, he seems to have comfortably eased into this stage of his career, one which blends teaching, wellness and health activism.

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TROY DANIELS SIGNS WITH ROCKETS

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Troy Daniels is still shooting for the NBA. The former VCU 3-point gunner signed with the Houston Rockets today, the team announced.

It’ll be interesting to see if Troy sticks with Houston. With the Daniels signing, the Rockets are now carrying 18 players on their roster, and according to HoopRumors’ Luke Adams, 13 are inked to guaranteed deals. Several Houston writers and bloggers have already speculated this move was made with the D-League in mind, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Daniels would have the opportunity to get playing time and develop with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Weiner has more insight on his Twitter timeline, if you’re so inclined. Hopefully, Daniels will get some preseason burn with Houston. The Rockets’ next two preseason games – Oct. 21 vs. Dallas and Oct. 24 vs. San Antonio, will be televised by NBATV and TNT, respectively. In the meantime, here’s a gif of Daniels’ NBA meal ticket.


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CAN A RAM RUN WITH THE BOBCATS?

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Troy Daniels averaged 12.3 points per game and shot .403 (124-of-308) from 3-point range for VCU last season. He’s in training camp this fall with the Charlotte Bobcats.

Unless you’ve been maintaining radio silence since the end of last season, you know that Troy Daniels is in training camp with the Charlotte Bobcats this week. Like most undrafted free agents, Daniels will face an uphill battle in order to actually grab a roster spot. VCU fans justifiably want to know what kind of shot Daniels has of making the team. Let’s have a look.

Factor No. 1: Roster space.
NBA rosters consist of 13 active players, plus two inactive spots. The Bobcats currently have five guards – Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions, Jannero Pargo and Ben Gordon – signed to guaranteed contracts.

bobcatsrosterWhile Charlotte could certainly choose to carry three shooting guards, don’t expect them to drop a point guard to free up the space, according to Bobcats’ beat writer Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

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THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS EVER THIS WEEK (OCT. 1)

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Happy Shak-tober, VCU fans. This month is good for many things, among them (in no particular order): foliage, NBA training camps, candy corn, postseason baseball, marzen, candy corn, Atlantic 10 Conference races and, finally, candy corn. How does VCU Athletics fit into all of this? I’m glad you asked, even if you didn’t.

RAMS IN CAMP
NBA training camps are underway, which means three former Rams are in action, each with a different task in front of them.

Troy Daniels is in Asheville, N.C. with the Charlotte “soon to be Hornets” Bobcats. Troy earned a camp invite after playing on the Bobcats’ summer league squad in Las Vegas. Now would be a good time to remind Michael Jordan that Charlotte was 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting last year, and Troy Daniels (feel free to use the Around The Horns-approved #TreyD3 hashtag) hits threes in his sleep. If he was a dinosaur, Daniels would be a triceratops. If he was a TV station, he’d be ESPN3. If he was a stadium, he’d be Three Rivers.

Trust us, Daniels was born for this. We recently slowed down some film of Daniels shooting at training camp and captured his expression right at the moment he’s about to catch and shoot. Check it out:

Three, coming right up.

Three, coming right up.

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BRATWURST FOR EVERYONE! SANDERS SIGNS EXTENSION

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There was a famous banner that made the rounds during Larry Sanders’ VCU career that read, “Larry Sanders has a posse.” Well, now he can afford one.

Sanders, who had one year remaining on his original rookie contract, officially signed a multi-year extension with the Milwaukee Bucks – who drafted him 15th overall in 2010 – on Tuesday. Terms have not been disclosed, but multiple outlets have reported that the extension is for four years and $44 million, and incentives could push it to as much as $48 million. Alex Boeder of “Bucks Beat” wrote a nice piece on why that’s a good thing for Bucks’ fans.

Sanders signs his contract extension Tuesday (photo via Instagram)

Sanders signs his contract extension Tuesday (photo via Instagram)

If you saw Larry Sanders the first time he stepped onto the floor at the Verizon Wireless Arena in 2007, your first impression would likely have been something like, “well, he’s tall.” Discovered in Fort Pierce, Fla. by then-assistant Tony Pujols, Sanders had been playing organized basketball for only a couple of years, and was, without a doubt, raw. It was tough to throw the ball to Sanders in the post because he wasn’t very good at catching it, and when he did, he wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it. But for all the things he hadn’t been taught, there were so many skills he possessed that you can’t teach.

Sanders was starting halfway through that season and eventually averaged 4.9 points and 5.2 rebounds on an NIT squad. He averaged 11.3 points and 8.6 rebounds as a sophomore and became a viable sidekick to Eric Maynor. The performance of those two in the 2009 CAA Championship Game, Maynor lobbing to Sanders (18 points, 20 rebounds, 7 blocks) for dunks, Sanders blocking everything in sight, was an eye-opener for fans and scouts alike.

At that stage, it was pretty clear Sanders was going to end up in the NBA someday. After a junior season in which he led the Rams in scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg), Sanders entered the draft. He wasn’t a finished product by any means, but his draft stock was soaring. In a league with a dearth of centers, Sanders’ combination of length and athleticism was coveted. After two occasionally frustrating seasons in Milwaukee, Sanders broke out last season and averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. He’s just 24, and he’s starting to come into his own. The Bucks were smart to sign him now, rather than take their chances after the 2013-14 season.

BOBCATS/HORNETS, SKEEN/DANIELS & STATS/STATS

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Jamie Skeen

Former Ram Jamie Skeen scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a win over the D-League select team Saturday.

The NBA Summer League finished up for Troy Daniels, Jamie Skeen and the Charlotte Bobcats  last night in a 75-67 loss to the Golden State Warriors (and ODU alum Kent Bazemore) in a semifinal matchup. After neither Daniels or Skeen played much (or not at all) in the Bobcats first three games in Las Vegas, both former Rams got plenty of run in the final three. After posting a double-double Saturday, Skeen wasn’t able to knock down shots last night. Daniels fared better, scoring 13 points while knocking down 3-of-5 from three.

It’s hard to say if either showed enough to merit an invitation to training camp, but even if Charlotte declines, another team could step in. Both Daniels and Skeen had their moments; Daniels not only hit 42 percent of his threes in Vegas, but he even put the ball on the floor and got the the rim a couple of times. However, his 6-of-24 shooting from 2-point range could be a problem. Skeen, meanwhile, looked lighter and eager to shoot the three, but also rebounded the ball pretty well. If Skeen, whose biggest problem as it relates to the NBA is that he’s always been a bit of a power forward in a small forward’s body, was hoping to show teams he can play the three, I think he made a decent case.

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