Shaka Smart, 75-26 in three seasons at VCU, isn't overlooking Wednesday's opponent, Towson.

RICHMOND, Va. – Former NFL Coach Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.” But VCU Coach Shaka Smart isn’t buying the statement, as he prepares the Rams (20-5, 11-2 CAA) for Wednesday’s game with 1-24 Towson at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

“They’re playing good basketball right now,” Smart said. “[Pat Skerry] has got them playing with great spirit.”

Smart isn’t just spouting coachspeak, although that would be perfectly understandable when prepping an an opponent that has lost 43 of its last 44 games. Towson actually is playing better.

The Rams dealt the Tigers a 67-42 loss at the Towson Center on Jan. 25, but that doesn’t mean another blowout is in order. In the last three weeks, Towson has battled Colonial Athletic Association co-leaders Drexel and George Mason before fading in the final minutes.

On Feb. 4, the Tigers trailed Drexel by just four with 5:50 remaining. But the real breakthrough came a few days earlier, when Towson snapped a NCAA Division I record 41-game losing streak with a 66-61 win over UNC Wilmington on Jan. 28.

In addition to Towson’s improving play, Smart knows he needs to keep his team from looking ahead to Saturday’s charged rivalry matchup with Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va. He believes the players are getting the message.

“I think it’s always that you’ve got to factor in as a coach when you’ve got a rivalry game looming, but our guys have been through this game before and we’ve talked about it, and hopefully we’re smart enough to understand, anybody that comes in here is capable of beating us, at the same time, we’re capable of beating anyone we play,” Smart said. “I don’t think it’ll be a huge problem with our guys, but it’s something that we’ll continue to talk about leading up until tomorrow night’s game.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“When you play a team a second time, I like it a lot, because it really adds to the strategy part of the game. That first game tape…is like gold.” – Shaka Smart on preparing for conference opponents a second time.

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