VCU went a long way this year playing their havoc brand of defense and hitting just enough shots when they needed them to fall. Last night however, a Rams cold streak did them in, in a 63-61 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers in the NCAA tournament’s third round.
The Rams lead most of the game, including a 3-point advantage with under a minute to play. Then, Hoosier guard Victor Oladipo connected on an old fashioned three-point play to tie it at 61.
After a Troy Daniels missed three-point attempt on the following possession, Indiana’s Will Sheehey found himself wide open on a 2nd-chance shot that fell with just 12 seconds to play.
With a chance to tie or win it, Darius Theus found a wide open Rob Brandenberg for a potential game-winning three-point attempt that came up just short, bouncing off the rim and ending the Rams season in heartbreaking fashion.
VCU had lead by as many as nine in the second half, but an almost six minute slump and poor free throw shooting (46%) allowed the Hoosiers the opportunity for the win, advancing to their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2002.
Bradford Burgess lead the Rams with 15 points and seven rebounds on the night. The senior from Midlothian ends his career as the all-time NCAA leader in consecutive starts, passing Patrick Ewing during this year’s CAA tournament for sole possession of first place.
Burgess’ 1,684 points ranks fourth all-time at VCU, 734 rebounds is the seventh-best in VCU history, his 146 steals ties him at eighth most by a Ram and his 39.6% three-point percentage is good for eighth as well.
Burgess will be missed as one of the greats to ever wear the uniform at VCU, and will always be remembered for his ability to hit big shots when VCU needed him the most, including the game-winner in last year’s 1-point overtime win against Florida State in last year’s Sweet 16.
The senior is the only graduating player from this year’s overachieving group that had originally been picked to finish third in the CAA after losing four producing seniors from last year’s Final 4 squad. The team’s 29 wins ranks as the most ever by a VCU squad.
The Rams return a ton of talent from the ninth-youngest team in the country this year, and add three talented freshman including Jordan Burgess, who is the younger brother of Bradford as well as an ESPN top-100 recruit.
The big storyline this offseason will no doubt be the plans of Coach Shaka Smart, who has been a hot name since last year’s run and is reportedly the top target of an Illinois team who has recently fired their head coach.
Schools will no doubt throw big numbers at Smart in hopes of luring the star from his home in Richmond, but VCU will no doubt counter with some numbers of their own…#30, Troy Daniels…#10, Darius Theus…#34, David Hinton…#11, Rob Brandenberg…#33, DJ Haley…#15, Juvonte Reddic…#21, Treveon Graham…#23, Jared Guest…#24, Heath Houston…#25, Reco McCarter…#5, Teddy Okereafor…and #2, Briante “Bri-Fense” Weber.
Great season…and Go Rams. We can’t wait for next year.