Freshman Melvin Johnson (12 points) was one of several of VCU’s young reserves who were key Thursday.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – There was freshman Justin Tuoyo, all alone on the right wing. He’d barely played the last month and had missed 12 of his previous 14 three-pointers this season. From behind my position, a Saint Joseph’s fan, who had apparently done some advance scouting, shouted, “He can’t shoot a three, let him shoot it.”
Tuoyo promptly sized up the three and canned it.
Instead of hesitating or letting nerves overcome him on a big stage, the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals, Tuoyo stuck to the aggressive, attacking principles that Rams’ Coach Shaka Smart preaches.
At the time the bucket didn’t seem terribly significant. It gave the Rams a 64-47 lead with 8:11 remaining. But Saint Joseph’s, namely Carl Jones (29 points) and Langston Galloway (25 points), wouldn’t quit and managed to whittle the final margin to 82-79.
After the game, Smart was quick to remind Tuoyo of that bucket.
“I told him in the locker room after the game, I know it’s just one shot, but I don’t know if you noticed, but we won by three, and you hit a three,” Smart said. “So we needed every basket, and I think overall, just the contribution that he made in 14 minutes says a lot about his future.”
Sophomore Briante Weber is piling up steals at record pace.
RICHMOND, Va. – In 1989, Energizer Batteries scored a marketing victory when it introduced the Energizer Bunny, a pink, sunglass-wearing, bass-drum pounding, stuffed rabbit that shuffles, presumably, in perpetuity. It became a pop-culture icon and embedded itself in the national lexicon as a THE metaphor for someone or something with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
I’m appreciative of the Energizer Bunny’s legacy, because it allows me to describe the play of supercharged VCU guard Briante Weber effectively to the uninitiated. If Weber dresses up as the Energizer Bunny for Halloween next year, I will lose my mind.
He’s a unique talent, Weber. An angular, 6-foot-3, 165-pound sophomore wing with a 45-inch vertical leap, he doesn’t necessarily fit into the tidy positional descriptions we’ve come to accept: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, etc. What is he? He can play some point guard, yes. But most of the time he’s swooping around the court as if he’s on fire, creating havoc on defense.
Defense in basketball has never been as easily quantified as offense. You can more easily judge the efficiency of a player by his shooting percentages, scoring averages, assist-to-turnover ratio. Defense can be a little murkier. But for VCU and Coach Shaka Smart, you can draw a number of conclusions about the Rams’ effectiveness on defense by the number of turnovers they force, many via the steal. That’s where Weber’s impact is most easily understood.
Briante Weber has 58 steals this season, tied for eighth-most in school history.
RICHMOND, Va. – VCU avoided the proverbial “trap game” Monday night, using another stout defensive effort on the way to a 61-49 victory.
It wasn’t always pretty. The Rams committed a season-high 17 turnovers and were 12-of-21 at the line, but they also forced 18 Hofstra turnovers and completely locked down the Pride offense in the second half. Hofstra was 4-of-20 from the field after the break, including 0-of-5 from 3-point range.
As has been a reoccurring theme this season, VCU was able to use its intense defensive pressure to wear down the Pride in the second half.
“Sometimes it feels like they’ve got seven or eight guys out there,” said Hofstra Coach Mo Cassara.
The Rams led 35-32 at the break but took command with a 6-0 burst early in the second and never looked back.
VCU, which has won four straight and 13 of 16, was coming off an emotionally-charged win over rival Old Dominion on Saturday. The Rams were also playing their third game in five days, but managed to avoid a letdown and grind out a choppy win.
Volleyball Director of Operations Dave Oglesby stumbled on this framed gem the other day. Somebody can correct me if I’m wrong, but this appears to be Michael Brown, Calvin Duncan, Mike Schlegel and Rolando Lamb, sponsored by Best department store. All kinds of random stuff floating around these offices.
I asked this question during the last in-game blog, in part because I hadn’t figured out how to do it here. Well, no more sir! So, the question is pretty straightforward. Who is your favorite player to wear No. 20 in VCU Men’s Basketball history? I realize that Burgess is still playing, so he still has time to win your hearts.