January 26, 2015
George Washington Colonials, Shaka Smart
It’s a big week for the VCU Men’s Basketball team. The Rams host George Washington Tuesday, then prep for Richmond Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Arena. VCU Coach Shaka Smart met with the media Monday morning to size up the Colonials and reflect on the Rams’ win at Saint Louis.
January 19, 2015
Saint Louis Billikens, Shaka Smart, Treveon Graham
With Saint Louis on the horizon, Shaka Smart looks back on Saturday’s win at Duquesne, talks about Treveon Graham’s health and sizes up the Billikens.
January 13, 2015
John Feinstein, Shaka Smart
I was thrilled to recently sit down with one of my favorite authors, John Feinstein (“Season on the Brink”, “The Punch”, “A Good Walk Spoiled”, “Last Amateurs”). John has served as color commentator for a handful of regional VCU Basketball broadcasts this season and knows the program well. Check out our chat, where we discuss plenty of VCU hoops, as well as Bobby Knight, Dean Smith and his next book.
January 13, 2015
Danny Hurley, E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island Rams, Shaka Smart
Shaka Smart speaks on a variety of topics as the Rams get ready to battle Rhode Island.
January 11, 2015
Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's Hawks, Shaka Smart
January 10, 2015
Saint Joseph's Hawks, Shaka Smart
Melvin Johnson (far right) led VCU with 20 points Saturday in a win over Saint Joseph’s.
RICHMOND, Va. – Shaka Smart won his 150th game Saturday afternoon. But you may want to hold off on ordering a congratulatory sheet cake with his grinning mug on it. Reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound like this manufactured milestone means much to him.
“Nothing. It says I’ve coached a lot of games,” the sixth-year VCU coach said. “It seems like I just coached my first game. It goes fast, and you learn not to take anything for granted. But I’m appreciative of our guys that we have on our team. I’m appreciative of the guys that I’ve coached on former teams. They’ve won the games. I’ve not scored a basket here or gotten a rebound. Obviously we’ve got a lot of goals in front of us and that’s what we’re focused on.”
That last part is key here. One of the main reasons Smart has won 150 games – and lost just 49 – is because he has a clear idea about what his and his team’s goals are, and a self-congratulatory victory lap in early January ain’t it.
VCU thumped defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion Saint Joseph’s for most of Saturday’s contest at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The final score, 89-74, doesn’t tell you that VCU led by 27 with 12 minutes to go or that no Rams starter needed to play more than 23 minutes. Melvin Johnson shot the lights out (7-of-8) and finished with 20 points, while Treveon Graham was, well, Treveon Graham. He added 19 economic points.
Most people wouldn’t think twice if Smart wanted to pat the team on the back and chalk up an eighth straight victory; heck, maybe even take the squad out for ice cream sandwiches. The Rams (13-3, 3-0 A-10) entered Saturday’s game ranked 20th in the country and are one of three teams unbeaten in league play.
Those people don’t know Shaka Smart very well.
January 8, 2015
Bob McKillop, Briante Weber, Davidson Wildcats, Jack Gibbs, Shaka Smart
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.
January 8, 2015
Atlantic 10 Conference, Davidson Wildcats, Shaka Smart
B.A. WALKER HALF COURT THREE
Former Ram B.A. Walker buries a half court 3-pointer prior to the game to win everybody in attendance free Papa John’s.
January 7, 2015
Bradford Burgess, Jeff Horne, Jordan Burgess, Shaka Smart
Sophomore Jordan Burgess is shooting 49 percent from the field this season while averaging 7.5 points per game.
Editor’s note: Jordan Burgess is currently listed as day-to-day with an ankle injury.
For the first time in a while, Jordan Burgess feels like his has his legs under him.
Both literally and figuratively, Burgess spent his freshman year in search of sure footing. While the 6-foot-5 Midlothian, Virginia native was a starter and solid contributor for most of last season, when he averaged 4.9 points per game, he rarely felt completely comfortable.
That has not been the case this season. Healthy and confident for the first time in two years, the redshirt sophomore swingman has seen across the board improvement. A rugged presence on both ends of the floor, Burgess is averaging career highs in points (7.5) and rebounds (4.1) per game.
On offense, Burgess has looked like a different player. On drives, he’s taken the ball hard to the rim and has been finishing around the basket. When he’s not, he’s looking for open 3-pointers. Long twos and mid-range shots – statistically inferior to layups and 3-pointers – have largely been eliminated and account for just 12 percent of his attempts this season.
According to Jeff Horne, who creates shot charts for every VCU game, 34 percent of Burgess’ field goal attempts have come from about six feet or less, and he’s converted 83 percent of those opportunities.
In 2013-14, Burgess shot just 28 percent (24-of-85) on all 2-point baskets. In 13 games this season, he has converted 65 percent (20-of-31) of his attempts from inside the arc. Overall, Burgess is shooting 49 percent from the field, and his effective field goal percentage (59) leads the team. Burgess shot just 31 percent overall last season with an effective field goal mark of 39 percent.
January 5, 2015
Beth O'Boyle, Briante Weber, Davidson Wildcats, Mo Alie-Cox, Shaka Smart, Treveon Graham
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.
BRIANTE WEBER, TREVEON GRAHAM, MO ALIE-COX