BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Shaka Smart tried to warn us. Troy Daniels is a stone-cold gunner from beyond the 3-point arc.
Those aren’t Smart’s actual words. He said something more like, “Troy Daniels is the best shooter I’ve ever coached,” many, many times during the senior’s career. But I like my version better. Because on Saturday, Daniels answered the call for the Rams in one of, if not the biggest spots in his career, so I used more interesting adjectives.
Behind the Roanoke senior’s 20 points – most importantly his 6-of-9 three-point shooting – VCU withstood UMass and secured a 71-62 win in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals Saturday night at Barclays Center.
The victory sends VCU, playing in its inaugural season in the A-10, to a Championship Game match-up with 16th-ranked Saint Louis on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Daniels’ lights-out shooting was the kind of performance that showed everybody why Smart was comfortable placing such a strong label on his senior during his career.
“He’s just a great shooter,” Smart said of Daniels, who has hit 240 career 3-pointers. “He’s the best shooter I’ve ever coached. He’s always been terrific in practice, but his first couple of years he had a hard time playing with the confidence to go out and shoot the ball in. Today he did, and all year he has and that’s why he’s one of the top single-season 3-point shooter in Atlantic 10 history.
“We need him to make threes because that’s a big part of what we do. I think it fits in well with our style of play and our guys do a nice job of finding him.”