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VCU sophomore guard Briante Weber made history Friday night.

RICHMOND, Va. – Every VCU game, there’s a war being waged on the floor. Although there are two teams battling on the court, there’s another, potentially more combustible, conflict playing out inside Rams’ sophomore guard and Disruptor-in-Chief Briante Weber.

Steal or not to steal? Gamble or stay put? Play at a 100 miles an hour or 70? It never ends, and it can often be the difference between Weber chopping the legs out from under an opponent or veering wildly out of control.

“Oh, it’s so hard, trying, just looking at the ball. It’s right there. You’ve got to have it,” said Weber. “You’ve just got to channel it on the inside. Nah, discipline, discipline. I’ve got to talk to myself. But sometimes I lose that and try to go for it, and I put my team in a bind…and I’ve got to channel it back.”

Every night, it’s those two Webers, playing tug-of-war for control of his abilities. Friday night, Weber’s dual personalities met in the middle and launched a record-breaking defensive performance. Weber grabbed 10 steals, smashing the previous school record of seven, and tied a career-high with 13 points in VCU’s season-opening 80-57 win over Florida Gulf Coast. Those 10 steals are the second most in Atlantic 10 Conference history. The kicker? Weber did all that in just 18 dizzying minutes.



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Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
2011-12 record:
15-17 (8-10 Atlantic Sun)
2011-12 RPI: 202
Guy to heckle: Sherwood Brown, Sr., G (12.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

The skinny:  You may not know Florida Gulf Coast from the Florida Golf Association, since the Eagles only transitioned to Division I in 2007, but this isn’t your typical opening-night punching bag. Florida Gulf Coast is an intriguing team. The Eagles return all five starters from last year’s squad, which lost eight games by six points or less. FGSU also has 6-foot-9 transfer Eric McKnight from Iowa State.

Last year, the Eagles shot the three very well (.374) and ranked 32nd nationally in steals per game (8.2). In addition to Sherwood Brown, Bernard Thompson averaged 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds and point guard Brett Comer handed out 5.6 assists per game.

But there are also reasons why FGCU was a 15-17 team. Let’s start with defense. The Eagles ranked 285th nationally in points allowed (72.1), 176th in field goal defense (.432) and 265th in 3-point field goal defense (.361). That’s good news for VCU’s shooters, who could use some early confidence. However, the scariest statistic for Florida Gulf Coast fans might be the team’s 14.9 turnovers per game last season, which ranked 274th nationally. You can almost hear Briante Weber cackling in the shadows somewhere. Comer, for all his positives (3-point shooting, ball movement), is also turnover prone. He averaged 4.3 turnovers per game last year. Allen Iverson thinks that’s a lot.

Quick hitters: Although established in 1991, Florida Gulf Coast University held its first classes in 1997. Nearly 13,000 students are enrolled today… VCU’s last loss in a season-opener was at Appalachian State in 2005… VCU has won its last six season-openers by an average of 20.1 points… This is the first-ever meeting between VCU and FGCU.

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