VCU Rams1

Do you know how much VCU fans love Briante Weber? I thought I did, but I was not prepared for the all-out blitz of emotion pouring from the souls of the VCU faithful. On Saturday night, I wrote a column on my couch in a blur with a pit in my stomach and a stiff drink on the coffee table. Within 10 hours it had become the most read post in this six-year history of this blog.

Today, Shaka Smart addressed the media for the first time since Weber’s injury. While George Mason awaits on Wednesday, Weber’s status dominated his weekly presser.


Meanwhile, it’s time to start picking up the pieces. For the fans, that means it’s time to celebrate an incredible career. Weber averaged 6.8 points per game as a Ram, and yet, he’s one of the most beloved players in school history. And here’s why:






RICHMOND, Va. – I do not envy Shaka Smart tonight. No way. No how.

I can’t fathom how it feels to tell a kid like Briante Weber that his VCU career is over. Do you want that job? I don’t. There isn’t enough money in the world to make me want to deliver news like that. Not to any 22-year-old kid. Especially not to Briante Weber.

On Saturday night, VCU announced that Weber, the Rams’ starting point guard, the school’s all-time leader steals, the team’s emotional fulcrum and the personification of Smart’s “Havoc” tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee in a loss to Richmond. His VCU career is over. He is 12 steals shy of the NCAA record. Life can be so unfair sometimes.

I’ve never pretended this blog was objective, and I’m definitely not going to start tonight. Learning the extent of Weber’s injury earlier was an absolute gut-punch. I have, never in my 12-year career in college athletics, ever felt so deeply for a student-athlete as I do at this moment.

I’ve been fortunate to have a courtside seat, both literally and figuratively, to Weber’s career. I’ve never covered anybody like him.

From his singular brilliance as a defender to his hilariously playful quirks to his unfettered exuberance, he is one-of-a-kind. Every gameday looked like Christmas morning to this guy. He played with his heart on his shooting sleeve. Briante Weber played with an enthusiasm you simply cannot fake.

I’ve never seen a player approach the game of basketball with the same passion as Weber. I’ve watched him check into basketball games the last four years. Let me tell you straight: nobody was as excited to check into a basketball game as Briante Weber. Every time. Every minute on the bench was one minute too long.

On the floor, he basked in the waves of adoration from the crowd, let it wash over him, and like a conductor, often signaled for more, pushed it toward crescendo.

This job lets me get close enough to these players that I get just a hint of their dreams and a whiff of what it feels like to chase it. It’s intoxicating and beautiful. Watching Weber do it was somehow better than that.

As for what this means for the Rams moving forward, that’s a column for another day. I just don’t have it in me tonight, man. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter much right now.

But don’t make this column a eulogy for Briante Weber’s career. I refuse. Won’t allow it. I’ve watched him play like a jet-fueled video game cheat code for four years and do it with a level of energy I can only describe as volcanic. I refuse to write off a guy like that. I am squarely on the Weber bandwagon from here to wherever he wants to drive it.

My heart goes out to Weber tonight and to his teammates. Those guys are like family to each other. Each man a brother. They’re all hurting tonight.

Tonight was a crushing blow for Weber, for VCU, for all of us who have invested emotionally in these four years. But if there’s one thing that Weber’s career has taught me it’s that there’s an ebb and flow to waves of emotion, and while this is most certainly the valley, there’s a peak ahead.

I’ve enjoyed covering Briante Weber more than any other student-athlete in my career in college athletics. I’m looking forward to covering his comeback even more.


Leave a comment

VCU Rams1

Senior Briante Weber leads the nation in steals.

VCU Senior Briante Weber leads the nation in steals.

RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond snapped VCU’s 12-game winning streak Saturday, but the Rams’ greater concern moving forward will be the status of senior point guard Briante Weber, who left the game with a non-contact injury to his right knee.

In his press conference following the 64-55 loss, VCU Coach Shaka Smart said he did not know the severity of the injury, and that an MRI was imminent.

“We’re hopeful it’s something he can come back from, but I don’t want to say more than that because I don’t know.”

With 3:18 remaining, Weber drove and made a jump stop inside the free throw line, then crumbled to the floor in obvious pain. He was escorted off the floor by the VCU athletic training staff. Weber returned to the VCU bench on crutches a short time later.

Richmond players and coaches shook Weber’s hand afterwards and offered words of encouragement.

“I just said [to him] that guys overcome a lot of things, and people wouldn’t have predicted he’d become the great player that he is and NBA prospect that he is, so what’s bad for a regular person might not be as bad for him, and I wished him luck in getting better,” said Richmond Coach Chris Mooney.

Losing Weber for any period of time would be significant for VCU. Weber has often been the Rams’ catalyst on both sides of the floor. He is currently leading the nation in steal percentage for the fourth straight year, and his play sets the tone for the Rams’ “Havoc” defense.

Weber scored 11 points and grabbed six steals prior to Saturday’s injury. He has 374 career steals, 11 shy of the NCAA career record. Weber is averaging 8.0 points, 4.1 assists and 3.9 steals per game this season.

Although Weber has been relatively injury-free during his career, the Rams did manage an 85-69 win over Tennessee on Nov. 14 in the season-opener while Weber served a suspension. Sophomore JeQuan Lewis and freshman Johnny Williams will be asked to pick up the bulk of the slack at the point for the Rams.

“We’ll wait and see,” Smart said. “He’s an integral part of what we do. We’re hopeful he’ll be back soon, but if he’s out, we’re going to keep playing. You can’t cancel the season. We’re going to keep playing. That’s why you have a full roster of guys. In terms of style of play, we’re not going to change a whole lot [if Weber’s out], but guys are just going to have to step up and play.”

VCU, which entered the game ranked 14th nationally in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, is 17-4 overall and remains in first place in the Atlantic 10 at 7-1 despite the loss.

The Rams will travel to George Mason on Wednesday before heading to St. Bonaventure on Feb. 7.


Leave a comment

VCU Rams1

VCU opponents are shooting just .370 in the last six games. The Rams limited Davidson to a season-low 65 points Wednesday.

VCU opponents are shooting just .370 in the last six games. The Rams limited Davidson to a season-low 65 points Wednesday.

RICHMOND, Va. – It’s been happening somewhat quietly for the last couple of weeks, but on Wednesday, you could no longer deny VCU’s defensive maturation.

Faced with a Davidson offense that ranked sixth nationally in adjusted efficiency, VCU (12-3, 2-0 A-10) flexed its defensive muscle to earn a hard-fought, 71-65 win over Davidson at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

Despite its place on the schedule – the second game on each team’s Atlantic 10 slate – it was a contest that ached of postseason intensity and hinted at a possible juicy battle deep in the league’s tournament field in March.

On paper, the game looked like it would be a track meet between a pair of tempo-friendly systems. Davidson (10-3, 1-1 A-10) entered the game averaging nearly 86 points per game, while VCU is known for its free-wheeling open-court play. Instead, short, frenetic bursts of frenetic offense often gave way to half court, meat-grinder basketball.

VCU’s vaunted Havoc defense, a bit of a puzzle in the early parts of the Rams’ non-conference schedule, put the brakes on Davidson’s high-octane attack. VCU held the Wildcats to a season-low 65 points and 37 percent (22-of-59) shooting. The Wildcats began the second half 2-of-16 from the field as the Rams opened a 13-point lead. Davidson shot just 39 percent from inside the 3-point arc and turned the ball over 15 times, its second-highest total of the season.



Leave a comment

With Davidson on deck and VCU riding six-game winning streak, Shaka Smart and players sat down with the local scribes and beautiful people of your television networks to chat. Also, VCU Women’s Coach Beth O’Boyle dropped by to update us on the 9-5 Rams.








Leave a comment

VCU Rams1

Come for the shooting and the roar of the crowd. Stay for the steals and high-flying dunks from Terry Larrier and Jonathan Williams.









Senior Briante Weber led VCU with 13 points and five rebounds Monday.

Senior Briante Weber led VCU with 13 points and five rebounds Monday.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – On Monday, VCU played its fourth game in a 31-game regular season. It was the 11th day of the 115-day of the 2014-15 campaign. It didn’t go well. Okay, it went very bad. Okay, it was like getting hit by a subway car.

Look, there’s nothing I can write to rub out what transpired Monday night on the Barclays Center floor. After 22 minutes of really competitive basketball, 12th-Villanova blitzed VCU on the way to a 77-53 win. That’s a cold, hard reality.

But before we lose ourselves in an ugly box score, remember that after tonight, there were only 104 days left until the Atlantic 10 Tournament on this Barclays Center floor – more than three months. The season is roughly nine percent complete.

History is also on the side of Shaka Smart and the Rams. Without so much as turning a page in the media guide, one can point to underwhelming performances by the Rams at the 2011 Charleston Classic early in a season that ended within a hair of a Sweet 16 appearance. Just over a year ago, VCU absorbed an 85-67 loss at the hands of Florida State in Puerto Rico. That was a runaway train from start to finish. The Rams won 23 more games after that and 26 overall.




Senior Briante Weber powered VCU with 18 points, 9 steals, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.

Senior Briante Weber powered VCU with 18 points, 9 steals, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.

RICHMOND, Va. – Before he clipped Toledo Tuesday, Briante Weber made a stop at the barbershop.

Weber had recently noticed a haircut on Instagram, a fade with a lightning-bolt-like shape in the back, and paid a local barber a visit before he joined his team at the arena Tuesday afternoon. By the game had started, Weber had morphed into something of a charge of electricity himself. Repeatedly, the supercharged guard in a headband rose up to shock Toledo, until the 15th-ranked Rams were left with an 87-78 victory at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

By the time they powered down the kinetic Weber Tuesday evening, what remained was this smoldering stat line: 18 points, 9 steals, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and zero turnovers.

“I hate when college coaches talk to opposing players, particularly before or after game, but tonight I couldn’t help myself,” admitted Toledo Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk. “He is a game-changer. He is an absolute game-changer. I had to stop him when we were going through the line to tell him how much respect I have for him. If he’s not the best defensive player in the country, I don’t know who is.”

It wasn’t just the gaudy box score that made Weber’s performance unforgettable. It was the senior guard’s penchant for making plays in moments that Toledo will not soon forget – ones the Rockets won’t be able to erase from their memories, even if they run the DVDs over with the team bus.

Weber’s masterpiece of basketball theater culminated in two game-altering sequences late in this March Madness-quality slugfest. First, with Weber came up with a steal, then hit a 3-pointer from the right wing off an offensive rebound, to push the Rams in front 73-68 with 4:25 left. It was, at the time, VCU’s largest lead of the game, and a blow that finally wobbled a Rockets team that is a safe bet to ruin a few office pools in March.



Leave a comment





1 Comment


Disclaimer: These photos were taken on a late-model iPhone by an untrained photographer (me) in occasionally sub-standard lighting. We had actual real photographers on site to capture actual professional photos. You’ll see those (probably) Wednesday. This is just a behind-the-scenes preview.


View this post on Instagram

Shooting the men's intro video #LetsGoVCU

A post shared by VCU Rams (@vcuathletics) on

View this post on Instagram

Mo Alie-Cox picks his one-on-one match-up. #LetsGoVCU

A post shared by VCU Rams (@vcuathletics) on

Older Entries Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: