Sophomore point guard Teddy Okereafor is averaging 2.5 assists and 12.6 minutes per game this season.

Sophomore point guard Teddy Okereafor is averaging 2.5 assists and 12.6 minutes per game this season.

RICHMOND, Va. – A few thousand miles, a whole lot of water and a common language separate London, England and Richmond. What sounds like English to native Londoner Teddy Okereafor and what sounds like English to Virginian Darius Theus can be two different things.

“I mean, it’s tough with his accent,” Theus a senior, joked of his understudy. “You can’t really understand him sometimes.”

But the good news is that Okereafor is talking. The translation will come later. Accent or not, Okereafor’s teammates are starting to hear a lot more out of VCU’s backup point guard this season, and that’s good for everybody.

“Teddy still has a long way to go, but he’s much better than last year,” says VCU Coach Shaka Smart. “He was a church mouse last year.”

There’s more to being a point guard than just making fancy passes. The good ones, and VCU has had many of them over the years, direct their teammates on the floor like chess pieces, arranging them properly before initiating an attack. If there’s nobody to direct traffic, the offense falls apart.

Smart hopes a more vocal Okereafor will finally provide the Rams with a consistent backup to Theus, who averaged 31.2 minutes last season. In Smart’s Havoc system, that’s a fair amount.



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Rams’ coach Shaka Smart says VCU is ahead of where it was last October, but not yet where it needs to be.

RICHMOND, Va, – Last October, VCU Coach Shaka Smart was driving home the narrative that the Rams were a young (nine freshmen and sophomores) team trying to find its way. Early in the season, VCU played like it.

The Rams opened with a lukewarm win over lightly regarded Saint Francis (Pa.) and followed with ugly losses to Seton Hall and Georgia Tech. However, by March VCU was a locomotive, chugging to 18 wins in its final 20 games. Those two losses were decided by a total of three final points and one of them came by virtue of a 25-foot buzzer-beater.

It would be nice if the Rams, who return all but one player from that team, could just pick up where they left off and start blitzing through the schedule, but Smart says it doesn’t work like that.

“It’s never easy,” Smart said. “The offseason, even though we have experience, I’ve never been involved with a team in college coaching that could carry over the habits through the offseason. You have to rebuild that stuff every year. That’s one of the facts of coaching.”


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