March 1, 2014
Briante Weber, Dwayne Evans, Jarred Guest, Jordair Jett, Mo Alie-Cox, Saint Louis Billikens, Shaka Smart, Treveon Graham
Briante Weber provided 13 points and four steals in VCU’s win Saturday.
RICHMOND, Va. – They call him the Freight Train, and that’s what Treveon Graham resembled as his 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame rumbled down the sideline midway through the second half Saturday night.
Graham was chasing down a rebound, and despite his heft, the junior guard slipped past two Saint Louis players, grabbed the ball at midcourt and drew a hip-check foul. His momentum carried him into the path of 5-foot-9 VCU Coach Shaka Smart, who corralled him with an enthusiastic bear hug. The normally stoic Graham broke character and flashed a healthy smile.
It turns out, Smart was about the only person who could catch a Ram Saturday night. Saint Louis, ranked 10th in the country, certainly could not, as VCU staged a wire-to-wire 67-56 victory behind an opportunistic defense and a 49th straight sellout crowd at the Verizon Wireless Arena that lurched towards frenzy at every opportunity.
The victory was meaningful on a number of levels, for history – it was the highest-ranked team VCU had ever defeated at home – for the Rams’ NCAA Tournament resume, for its Atlantic 10 seeding, but it may have mattered most for pride. Since the Rams joined the A-10 last season, the Billikens were the only remaining member of the league VCU hadn’t cracked. Saint Louis defeated the Rams twice last season, once in St. Louis and once for the A-10 crown in Brooklyn, and then again at the Billikens’ Chaifetz arena on Feb. 15.
“It was definitely important. We had a mindset of payback from last year when they beat us in the championship game. Of course that’s always on our mind,” admitted junior guard Briante Weber, who provided 13 points and four of VCU’s 12 steals. “They had yet to come to VCU, and we wanted to give them the impression of what VCU’s like when you come in here.”
VCU upset 10th-ranked Saint Louis Saturday night before the 49th-straight sellout at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Siegel Center,
Amid a pulsating sea of gold – the product of an advertised “Gold Out” – VCU (22-7, 10-4 A-10) whipped itself into an aggressive, defiant state.
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 30, 2014
Briante Weber, Fordham Rams, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon, Treveon Graham
RICHMOND, Va. – It wasn’t a work of art, but it was a win. VCU turned Fordham over 18 times and held the Bronx-based Rams to 37 percent shooting on the way to a 76-60 win. It was VCU’s fourth straight victory and eighth in the last nine games. Here are some tidbits from the victory.
VCU junior and leading scorer left the game early in the second half with an apparent injury and did not return. He retreated to the training room for a period of time, but reappeared midway through the period and sat on VCU’s bench for the remainder of the game. He scored nine points in 15 minutes and was limping noticeably on his left leg.
Coach Shaka Smart says he believes Graham has a sprained toe, but stopped short of offering a timeline for his return.
“He’ll be getting as much treatment as possible, and I can’t tell you exactly when he’ll be back, but I’d guess it will be soon.”
Graham is averaging 15.7 points per game this season. VCU returns to action on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Siegel Center against Richmond.
Meanwhile, senior forward Terrance Shannon (sprained knee) did not play for a third straight game, although he was in uniform.
“He’s good,” Smart said. “His knee’s not all the way back yet, but he’s making progress. He’s done some things in practice. He’s not been 100 percent full-go in practice yet, but I anticipate hopefully he’ll be back, full-go soon.”
Shannon is averaging 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game this season.
VCU shot .338 in the win (22-of-65). It’s the Rams lowest shooting percentage in a victory since shooting .328 (21-of-64) in a 63-57 win over St. Francis (Pa.) on Nov. 11, 2011. VCU is 4-4 when shooting less than 40 percent this season… Briante Weber grabbed four steals to move within two of tying Rolando Lamb’s school record of 257, established in 1985…The game marked VCU’s 45th straight sellout at the Siegel Center… VCU’s 17-4 start is the best of Shaka Smart’s five-year tenure and the Rams’ best since 2007… After opening the season 1-of-14 from 3-point range, Weber is 6-of-16 (38 percent) in VCU’s last five games.
January 4, 2014
Briante Weber, Melvin Johnson, Shaka Smart, Stony Brook Seawolves, Terrance Shannon, Treveon Graham
Senior Juvonte Reddic provided 11 points in VCU’s non-conference finale Friday.
RICHMOND, Va. – The Stony Brook basketball team got the jump on snowstorm Hercules by taking the team bus to Richmond early Thursday morning. In the process, the Seawolves escaped howling winds, frigid temperatures and five inches of snow. But what Stony Brook walked into at the Verizon Wireless Arena VCU Friday night was possibly much worse.
Instead of Old Man Winter, Stony Brook got Shaka Smart and a raging Havoc storm front that removed all doubt early in the second half and handed the Seawolves an 81-63 defeat. Instead of Jack Frost, there was Briante Weber coolly directing a VCU team that appears to be rounding into form.
Perhaps it would have been better for Stony Brook to take a snow day.
After a Weber leaner at the first half buzzer gave the Rams a 36-35 lead, the Rams erupted with a 15-0 blitz out of the lockerroom – the type of dizzying run for which VCU has become known – and never looked back on the way to their fourth straight win. It was also the fourth consecutive game in which VCU swept in like a cold front and iced the opposing team’s offense.
The Seawolves may have caught the Rams at the worst possible time. After stinging losses to Florida State and Georgetown earlier this year, the Rams have won eight of nine to close conference play.
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 18, 2013
JeQuan Lewis, Jordan Burgess, Mike Young, Shaka Smart, Treveon Graham, Wofford Terriers
JEQUAN LEWIS, JORDAN BURGESS, TREVEON GRAHAM!
WOFFORD COACH MIKE YOUNG!
December 6, 2013
Eastern Kentucky Colonels, Glenn Cosey, JeQuan Lewis, Jordan Burgess, Melvin Johnson, Shaka Smart, Terrance Shannon, Treveon Graham
Freshman JeQuan Lewis scored 13 points Thursday in VCU’s 71-68 victory.
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.
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.