A senior moment, Rams lose to Dukes

Ram fans packed the Stu in VCU’s third straight sellout in hopes of sending off seniors Joey Rodriguez, Brandon Rozzell, Ed Nixon and Jamie Skeen the right way.

VCU also happened to be looking to snap a 3-game CAA losing streak in the process.

The Rams played like everything was on the line today, but ultimately came up short as they extended their conference losing streak to four games in a 72-69 loss to JMU.

Nixon, known more for his defensive prowess, heated up early for the black-and-gold, hitting three straight 3-pointers for the Rams.

Jamie Skeen chipped in 12 first half points of his own as the Rams looked to keep pace with a hot shooting JMU team, but headed into the half with a 43-41 disadvantage.

The Rams found themselves in a familiar position at the half, trailing in the rebounding category 20 – 15, and eventually lost that  battle, 36-30.

The glass has been a consistent sore spot for the Rams in this consistently inconsistent season.

Skeen led all scorers with 20 points on the afternoon, Burgess right behind with 17 of his own.

The Rams have gone on an almost unprecedented run of 3-straight home losses.

On a positive note, even with the loss the Rams had previously locked up the fourth seed heading into next weekend’s tournament, and avoid having to become the first team to win four straight tournament games to win a CAA tournament title and NCAA automatic bid.

VCU will have it’s first first round bye of the Shaka Smart era, after finishing fifth just a season ago.

The road to VCU’s first CAA Championship since 2009 will be a brutal one however, as the Rams would most likely face Drexel, George Mason, and Old Dominion (if favorites win out), which coincidentaly are three of the four teams that contributed to VCU’s recent streak of losses.

Michael Hagan is a '04 VCU Graduate (Mass Comm) and a lifelong Richmonder. He also is a full time commercial & video producer. His favorite VCU ...
  • Lonny
  • February 26, 2011
Fire Shaka! Otherwise VCU will never make the NCAA Tourny again. I doubt we'll make the NIT this year either. Thanks Coach Smart for ruining the program.
  • Common Sense
  • February 26, 2011
Easy there Lonny.
  • Lonny
  • February 26, 2011
Easy? We are in a downward spiral as a program. If you don't mind VCU half-assin' it, then great, the program is for you. Shaka and his staff are unacceptable. I am also glad are inept seniors are finally gone too. We'll see what Shaka's guys can do next year and year after because unfortunately Shaka is safe until then. I doubt a NCAA Tourney Birth will come in next two years. There is no excuse for that at all.
  • Rawlo
  • February 26, 2011
Shaka is a smart guy. I think he can x and o with anybody. Not sure about his recruiting. It will begin to show starting next year. VCU won't ordinarily attract the top talent we got to sell our program. Capel and Grant brought in some talent. We are right there with Shaka. We need some players or we'll take a step back.
  • Lonny
  • February 26, 2011
We need a new coaching staff. Heres an idea, how about a coaching staff that understands defense, rebounding, and transition defense, handling zones, I could go on and on. I blame the slack seniors as well.
  • Pavarotti
  • February 26, 2011
66% of <strike>fans</strike> VCURamNation voters have no faith. Which makes me sad.
  • Don
  • February 28, 2011
Pavarotti - 66% of FANS have no faith. Definitely agree there are some coaching issues. Hopefully Shaka can make some adjustments for next season.
  • Mike
  • February 28, 2011
Lonny - your beef should be with some of the seniors on the team, not all also it should be on some decisions made by the coaching staff... not all of them. Smart has done things to help this team succeed, if you don't believe in his recruiting you have obviously not seen the impact of players like Brandenberg, Hailey, Reddic and Theus. VCU's future is bright, but new court leadership may be due. I'm ready for the Darius Theus era to begin at point guard.
  • Actlocally
  • February 28, 2011
This coach was handed the keys to a program that was in very good shape and poised -- perhaps -- to take an important step forward. Unfortunately, it has been two incredibly disappointing seasons in a row and one gigantic step backward. I have never been a fan of the 40-minutes-of-havoc approach. Yes, it can make inferior teams look bad, but good teams seem to have little trouble scoring against it with too many relatively easy baskets. If this were such a good scheme, why don't top college coaches employ it? Is there a team in the Top 25 today who is committed to this philosophy? It's just too gimicky for my taste and I have had more than one very knowledgable college basketball authority tell me that it's not a particularly attractive style to sell recruits on. Having said that, this coaching staff deserves a third season, but I hope it sits down at the end of this one and looks hard at committing yet another year to this style of play. Kids like D.J. and Rob are going to need many more quality minutes next season for this team to succeed. They aren't going to get them as one of 10 guys constantly being rotated game after game.
  • Benharperfan
  • February 28, 2011
VCU goes nowhere until Smart is gone. Hes an overrated coach.
  • Rams fan forever
  • March 2, 2011
I agree with Lonny. Common Sense tell me would you vote for Shaka Smart for CAA coach of the year? NO????
Basically that answers it - the coaching question.
Shaka has been given teams with good talent (one had a first round pick). I remember being upset last year but this year just stings to the heart. 20 point losses at home to ODU (my GOD) and Mason. 4 straight conference losses to end the season. We will be lucky to make the NIT field. How bad are you going to feel if Hofstra, JMU and Drexel go to the NIT and we don't.

End of the JMU game during the multiple time outs you can't tell the team to foul Bowles, who is a horrible free throw shooter. You let him have a lay up. That's coaching - remind the players.

Best part of the press for us against JMU was with Veal. Last part of the JMU game Veal and Haley sit - no defense/offense rotation. Come on - basic coaching - extend the game on the foul line against a poor shooting team; I'm sure Brady was stunned that we didn't do it in our own building.

I watched the 1-2-2 zone press the BC had on VT last night - so effective and much simpler to run and control the tempo of the game - it doesn't wear your players out if you rotate the point man...hello, Shaka!!!
Juice and Reddic have hit shooting slumps (Joey is way below a slump). Juice and Reddic have been taking the ball behind their heads on their strokes instead of straight up; puts too much spin on the ball and causes the shots to rim out. Just watch their films from when they did shoot well versus now -simple fix. Anybody out there in coaching land???? Rozell just needs to square his shoulders up.

We are not good enough to just show up and play our stuff because the rest of the conference has figured us out. Coaches have to prepare better. Against ODU, we just showed with the same game plan as AT ODU. Blaine Taylor, not a good coach, didn't just show up; he mixed it up and ran zone all game and disguised it. We couldn't/didn't react.

I hope we are doing something this week to prepare differently...could be a long Saturday.
  • Barnes
  • March 3, 2011
Great post Rams Fan Forever, I could not agree more. Also, what is with all this talk about Shaka being a great recruiter? Rob looks like he could be a star, but there are zero VCU freshman on the CAA all freshman team. Here's another thing I would like to point out, if we get behind by 12 or more points in our quarterfinal round game, pull out all seniors except Skeen. We got nothing else to lose really. I agree with the posters on here that think the seniors are done. They've had their chance, and failed. I'm also starting to believe Shaka might have been a bad hire. Hes a great and highly intelligent guy, but Lonny has it right...Shaka is in over his head.
  • Mike
  • March 8, 2011
Barnes - your comment on wondering why none of our Freshman made the CAA All-Freshman team is simply because they didn't get enough playing time. If Brandenberg/Haily/Reddic are starters that play 25+ minutes a night they would have been there, simply with the experience we had on this team there aren't enough minutes. Shaka did a nice job coaching in the CAA tournament and before everyone rushes to judgement and saying we've taken giant steps back with Smart let's remember the good things he has done and that he is still a young man working through his first head coaching job. I'll take 5 more Shaka Smart's before I take one Bruiser Flint.