Scent of a Season…
I was flipping the channels last night, just after midnight,
in one of those insomnia-induced quests for marginal programming. You know how
these nights go—you’re not hungry but dying to eat; you’d read something but
that means you have to think, which is the last thing you want to do. Thinking
doesn’t promote sleep.
Brainless TV is the ideal antidote, and for me movies
generally serve the purpose. Luckily, one of the 17 HBO channels was very
accommodating. It offered Runaway Train, some mid-1980s “action” movie that was
about, well, a runaway train.
In less than three minutes my mind drifted to Treveon
Graham, VCU basketball’s Freight Train. Graham’s going to be wreaking havoc
this year, but it’s more devastazione than what Briante
Weber will bring.
Weber is a hail storm pelting away at your sanity, while Graham is more
the irresistible force. I
cannot wait to see The Freight Train with one year of game experience
So with my family all nestled, snug in their bed, visions of
three-pointers danced in my head. The movie was on, but it didn’t matter. My mind was
in full VCU basketball mode.
Practice begins tonight. I think I speak for
everyone when I say thank the Almighty.
It feels like years since that doggone Indiana game, and
really nothing has occurred since then to distract us. I mean, a new athletics director and a
new conference is fine and dandy, but it’s white noise when put next to the red
heat of havoc.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s energy, great energy, surrounding
our increasingly growing and nationally-relevant program. It matters. But it is nothing
compared to a full, festive Siegel Center, with havoc in force, Juvonte
jumping passing lanes for a dunk, Buzz Daniels flicking effortless threes, and
Weber making everyone in a road uniform miserable. The inimitable Peppas and
their tuba activation of youdontwannagotowar act as the gasoline can.
It’s a two-hour lightning strike and today is its official
beginning, the gathering of the storm clouds. We’re most definitely talking ’bout practice. So while there’s no official
Midnight Madness for VCU, I’m holding it right now. It’s our time of year.
I see Daniels tracing the St. Louis Arch with a three. And
Melvin Johnson, acting not at all like a freshman and one-upping the senior,
standing in downtown Louisville and firing a ball across the Ohio River,
through a window and into Xavier’s Cintas Center. Swish. You’d better believe I
can’t wait to see those two creating their own McDonald’s commercial.
I see us blitzing GW with 12 more threes and closing out
Richmond with a 26-6 run like last year—the only difference is that those are
now conference wins. Rob Brandenberg going all SpiderMan, deflecting a pass and
then defying the space-time continuum and ending up with the resulting dunk.
I picture Darius Theus, face painted all Braveheart-like,
marching back and forth in front of the team:
“What will you do without havoc? Aye, shoot, and you may
score. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to
trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to
come back here and tell St. Joseph’s that they may inbound the ball, but
they’ll never get the ball in the basket!”
I see DJ Haley flicking away Chaz Williams’s shot and then
flicking the 5-7 UMass point guard out of his beard. Oh, Juvonte. I’m pretty sure Will Wade
created contact lenses for Reddic to wear so that every team looks like it’s
William & Mary.
And the coaching staff. I wonder about them, too. We’re all
familiar with the side trap, the coffin corner trap, and the midcourt trap. What
new wrinkle are they putting into the pressing defense? You know it’s coming. What
could it possibly be?
You know what I’m not thinking about? All this preseason
love. It’s nice and it represents the successful journey to get here, but that’s
it. Nobody’s going to lay down for us. We deserve nothing. The moment we relax
because we feel good about ourselves is the moment we are beaten.
But you know what? That makes the basketball even more fun.
The competition is better, so I cannot wait to get all havocy on them.
It’s like Pacino in the final scene of Scent of a Woman.
Didn’t matter that Chris O’Donnell wasn’t a Baird man. Pacino got after the headmaster and
made it clear O’Donnell was not hiding in big daddy’s pockets.
“Aahhm jus’ gettin’
And so are we.
Final note: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the last time I attended
a Midnight Madness-ish event that didn’t occur between my ears. It was just
prior to the 2004-05 season, and Jeff Capel held an open scrimmage. I wanted to
see this new big kid we had, a kid named Calvin Roland. I didn’t realize at
that time Roland’s greatest impact would have nothing to do with points or rebounds.
It’s that time. #LetsGoVCU