February 13, 2014
George Washington Colonials, Melvin Johnson, Rob Brandenberg, Shaka Smart, Treveon Graham, Troy Daniels.
VCU hit 13-of-25 from beyond the 3-point arc in a 92-75 win over George Washington.
RICHMOND, Va. – Troy Daniels hit the first 3-pointers before the game even started, and the arc exhibition didn’t end until more than two hours later.
Whether or not the VCU grad inspired his former team is a matter of conjecture, but the Rams certainly followed his lead, riding a season-high 13 three-pointers (on 25 attempts) to a crucial 92-75 win over George Washington Wednesday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Daniels, who set a school single-season record with 124 three-pointers for VCU last season, was in Richmond while the NBA D-League, where he plays with the Houston Rockets-affiliated Rio Grande Valley Vipers, is on its all-star break. Daniels was called on for a pregame promotion which challenges participants to hit shots to win pizza. After a successful layup and free throw, Daniels swished his 3-point attempt. Then, from halfcourt, he banked home his second attempt to win free pizza for the entire arena.
The fans weren’t the only ones feeding off of 3-pointers, however. Once the game started, VCU feasted by hitting 8-of-14 in the first half alone to roll to a stunning 45-28 advantage. In the second half, the Rams were less prolific and more opportunistic, beating back a George Washington comeback with timely treys. Meanwhile, the Colonials were 0-of-8 from three in the first half and 6-of-18 for the game.
January 19, 2014
Briante Weber, Duquesne Dukes, Rob Brandenberg, Shaka Smart, Terranc Shannon, Terrance Shannon dunk
TERRANCE SHANNON REDEFINES DUNKING
I don’t know why I’m going to bother to post all of these videos. You’re only going to watch this first one, where Terrance Shannon rewrites dunking history by slamming home a missed Juvonte Reddic dunk out of midair.
SHAKA SMART POSTGAME
January 10, 2014
Briante Weber, Rob Brandenberg, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon
Shaka Smart does not lack for enthusiasm on the VCU sideline.
RICHMOND, Va. – If you’re not a VCU fan, or if you watched Shaka Smart careen around the Reliant Stadium court at the Final Four in 2011 during the “Iron Man” drill, maybe you were skeptical. Seriously, what college basketball coach comports himself in a way that requires a helmet and possibly elbow pads?
Sure, Smart was young (he’s still 36), and he espouses the value of enthusiasm, but what coach is so invested in a system that he actually becomes a part of it? If you ever wondered If Smart’s demonstration at VCU’s Final Four open practice was a sincere expression of his belief in his system, you should have your answer by now.
Thursday’s 71-57 win over George Mason was just the most recent example of Smart’s investment in Havoc, and his role as the emotional mechanism that ignites the engine.
When you cover a beat for long enough, you come to understand the lexicon, the language and ideas that show up on a daily basis. For Smart, much of what he says and does is somehow related to expressions of energy, enthusiasm and appreciation. Smart often talks about players as “energy givers” or “energy takers”. He views energy as contagious, like a benign form of the mob mentality. It starts at the top, and it’s possible that nobody is more of an energy giver than Smart.
December 29, 2013
Barclays Center, Boston College Eagles, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Holiday Hoops Festival, Johnny Williams, Rob Brandenberg, Terry Larrier, Treveon Graham
Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is also home to the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament in March.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – When is a game more than a game? For VCU, it’s usually when the game is in New York.
On Saturday, another opportunity for the game within the game presented itself. VCU beat back ACC foe Boston College 69-50 at Barclays Center with an outstanding defensive performance. That’s an effort worthy of its own discussion, but that’s not what’s being discussed here. What was significant about VCU’s appearance at the Brooklyn Winter Hoops Festival is how the Rams, and the program as a whole, benefit from even playing that game to begin with.
If you’re a casual fan, or just someone that wants to focus on the happenings on the court, there was plenty to enjoy in VCU’s win. But if you’re interested in all facets of the program, then it’s a worthwhile venture to consider the value of events like this one.
Let’s deal with the obvious first. Saturday’s game was a chance for VCU to play a neutral site game against an ACC opponent. The Rams have experienced difficulty scheduling home-and-home series with schools from conferences like the ACC, Big Ten, SEC and the like. Rather than accept an inequitable 2-for-1 split – or worse – the next best thing has been to play teams on neutral floors. This is fast becoming a staple of the Rams’ non-conference schedule.
Rams’ Coach Shaka Smart said VCU learned of the Brooklyn Winter Hoops Festival through organizer Chris Spencer of Basketball Tournaments, Inc., who is one of the men behind the Las Vegas Invitational and other similar college basketball events. Assistant Coach Mike Morrell is in charge of scheduling for VCU, and looks for opportunities just like this one to give the Rams both balance and NCAA-resume building opportunities.
But there’s more to consider; everything from recruiting to media exposure to the Atlantic 10 Championship in March.
December 29, 2013
Barclays Center, Boston College Eagles, Havoc, Rob Brandenberg, Shaka Smart
VCU has limited ACC opponents Virginia Tech and Boston College to 52 and 50 points, respectively, in back-to-back games.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Watch out, folks. Havoc is humming. VCU’s signature full court pressure is starting to squeeze opponents with the strength of a boa constrictor, and the results are getting more impressive with each passing game.
Saturday night, Boston College felt the Rams tighten their grip until all the life had been choked out of the Eagles’ previously notable offense. VCU beat Boston College 69-50 Saturday at Barclays Center, but it wasn’t even that close. If not for a handful of meaningless buckets in the waning moments, it would have looked much worse. Even so, it was BC’s lowest offensive output in nearly a year. For a while, it looked like the Eagles might not reach 40 points, let alone 50.
When the wreckage was cleared away, all Boston College Coach Steve Donohue could do was shake his head at a season-high 23 turnovers, a season-low three 3-pointers and 39 percent (17-of-44) shooting overall. Boston College scored just 17 points in the first half and finished the game 25 points under its season average. During one particular stretch, BC recorded one field goal in 14 minutes. The Eagles entered the game ranked 63rd nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive efficiency rating – better than nearly 300 other Division I teams – and left with a duffel bag full of questions.
December 21, 2013
Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic, James Johnson, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Johnson, Rob Brandenberg, Shaka Smart
Melvin Johnson hit 8-of-11 three-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points Saturday.
RICHMOND, Va. – Shaka Smart is about as cerebral a coach as there is in college basketball, one who can effortlessly quote Mark Twain, Maya Angelou and John Keats in the same conversation. But Saturday, following VCU’s 82-52 victory over Virginia Tech at the Richmond Coliseum, he was, but for a moment, reduced to something more along the lines of Bill S. Preston, Esquire.
When asked to elaborate on how it felt to watch his team stage an is-this-really-happening 37-2 blitzkreig that blew the game wide open in the first half, Smart pondered, grinned and leaned into the microphone.
“It was fun,” he mused.
Sometimes less is more. What Smart’s taut assessment revealed was both his delight in the Rams’ success, as well as the sheer magnitude of the performance. In one 11-minute segment, VCU turned a 6-0 deficit into a 37-8 blowout. It wasn’t so much basketball as art. In the Havoc genre, this was the Mona Lisa, painted in less time than it takes to make a meatloaf.
That run, which VCU finished with 31 straight points, keyed the Rams’ most dominant performance of the season, one which saw sophomore Melvin Johnson explode for a career-high 27 points and eight 3-pointers.
November 15, 2013
Juvonte Reddic, Rob Brandenberg, Terrance Shannon
Florida State transfer Terrance Shannon scored 14 points in his VCU debut versus Illinois State.
RICHMOND, Va. – Although Terrance Shannon shared the Alamodome court with Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic that night in San Antonio, he does not share their cheerful recollection of the evening’s events.
It was March 25, 2011. Brandenberg and Reddic were freshmen on a VCU team in the midst of one of the NCAA Tournament’s most memorable Cinderella romps to the Final Four. Shannon, meanwhile, was on the opposing sideline of that Sweet 16 matchup as a member of a favored Florida State team. Those final moments are permanently pressed into the psyches of all three players; the Joey Rodriguez-to-Bradford Burgess inbounds play for the winning score in overtime, the Brandenberg blocked shot at the final horn that clinched a 72-71 VCU win and set Rams’ play-by-play broadcaster Robby Robinson on hyperbolic repeat.
Although it was nearly three years ago, Shannon hasn’t shaken the feeling.
“Here I don’t talk much about it because still to this day, I get mad every time I see a Final Four shirt or the picture of the 72-71 score in the coaches’ office,” he says through a disarming grin.
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 31, 2013
Juvonte Reddic, Rob Brandenberg, Terrance Shannon
It’s not spooky or Halloween-themed or anything. It’s just a press conference. But it’s fun anyway. Terrance Shannon, Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic address the media prior to VCU’s Nov. 2 exhibition game with California (Pa.).
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.