December 10, 2013
December 9, 2013
December 8, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Before Sunday’s game, Juvonte Reddic worked on Power Poses. During the game, he struck a pose of dominance and lifted VCU to a 69-48 victory over Old Dominion at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Reddic, cashing in on a game plan geared to exploit VCU’s size advantage over the Monarchs (just two ODU regulars stand as tall as 6-foot-7), delivered season highs of 24 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. Reddic used a series of post moves, baby hooks, dunks and putbacks on the way to an efficient 12-of-16 shooting performance. He was just four points shy of his career high.
Behind Reddic, VCU outrebounded Old Dominion 50-35 and grabbed 27 offensive rebounds. Five or Reddic’s caroms came on the offensive end, and VCU outscored ODU 30-9 in second-chance points.
While Sunday’s effort was Reddic’s best of the season to date, it was just the most recent in a series of good games for the 6-foot-9 forward of late. In his last six games, Reddic has produced four double-doubles and five double-digit rebounding games. In those six games, he’s averaging 15.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and shooting .574 (39-of-68) from the field. It’s a dramatic shift from the beginning of the season, when Reddic averaged 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and recorded no double-doubles in the first four games.
The difference Reddic says, is in his mental and emotional state. He’s more plugged in now, and it’s paying off.
December 6, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – As pure entertainment, VCU’s 71-68 overtime win over Eastern Kentucky Thursday at the Verizon Wireless Arena was terrific. There was practically March intensity in an early December game, the score was close, it was, for the most part, well-played, and the pace was often dizzying.
But Rams’ Coach Shaka Smart can invest very little emotionally in the basketball on the floor as a consumable product. As a coach, he’s got to be more clinical. For Smart, there’s likely more value in the victory as a progress report of sorts.
On that level, there was much for him to see. Some things, he’ll like, others, he won’t. But for the second straight game, his team provided a window through which to view how good it could be. On the other hand, Smart knows the Rams have plenty of work to do.
While the fans and media were bullish on VCU from day one, Smart has never sold the Rams as being a finished project. Sure, he’d like them to be, and Smart wants the Rams to be as good – and even better – as that top 10 ranking they once held, but we live in a world of college basketball where North Carolina can lose to UAB and then beat top-ranked Michigan State. The game is unpredictable, and teams don’t always realize their potential when coaches want. VCU certainly has moments of greatness. Capturing it and honing it is a skill in and of itself.
December 6, 2013
EASTERN KENTUCKY COACH JEFF NEUBAUER
November 30, 2013
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 30, 2013
SHAKA SMART PRESSER
VCU PLAYER PRESSER
November 20, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – There are a number of holdovers from VCU’s 2011 NCAA Tournament victory over Florida State on this year’s team, including Coach Shaka Smart, Associate Head Coach Mike Rhoades, and players Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic. But none of them will be able to offer the perspective of Terrance Shannon.
When VCU and Florida State meet Thursday at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Shannon will be the only participant to have stood on both sidelines in this “series”. Following a four-year stint in Tallahassee, Shannon transferred to VCU this summer. Shannon played five minutes for the Seminoles in that 72-71 VCU overtime win in San Antonio in 2011.
Ten of Shannon’s teammates return from last season’s 18-16 Florida State squad; ten guys he still calls his “brothers.” The experience, Shannon imagines, will be strange.
“It’s going to be bittersweet,” said Shannon, who averaged 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 72 games for FSU. “I get to see my former team again. I talk to the guys a lot, so the bond is still there. I still look at them as like brothers to me. It’s going to be weird playing against each other, but it’s going to be nice to see them again.”
Shannon says he talks the most with senior forward Okaro White, but that he keeps up with his former teammates as much as he can manage. He says they haven’t really talked about Thursday’s game.
Florida State is 3-0 this season after wins over Jacksonville, Central Florida and Tennessee-Martin. Although the Seminoles were picked ninth in the new 15-team ACC, Shannon believes FSU is going to be a “scary team” this season.
November 18, 2013
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 17, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. – Despite the 7,700 rabid souls burying Winthrop under an avalanche of angst-tinged decibels draped in gold, despite the rising mercury inside the packed Verizon Wireless Arena, despite his frantic, Briante Weber-meets-R. Lee Ermey sideline demeanor, it was a couple of clock malfunctions that finally made Eagles’ Coach Pat Kelsey lose his cool in VCU’s 92-71 win Saturday.
Kelsey wore his suit coat buttoned up for the first 31 minutes of game time – VCU Coach Shaka Smart lasted exactly 23 seconds with his jacket on – before a clock glitch with nine minutes left inspired him to dispose of it rather dramatically. Kelsey shed the tailored garment as if it was on fire, before spiking it to the ground like a Brooks Brothers football. He also yelled angrily towards the timing crew, actions for which he immediately apologized.
The outburst occurred just as VCU began to distance itself from Kelsey’s plucky Winthrop club. What had been a four-point game minutes before was now 69-58 in the Rams’ favor, and VCU was beginning to tighten its grip under a hailstorm of pressure. Winthrop had successfully inbounded the ball on the play in question, only to be immediately halted by the referees’ whistles.
Kelsey later explained this behavior as Havoc-related.