Last night was a blueprint for
havoc. It goes a little something like this: offense is created from defense, and if the defense is havocy the
offense will eventually find its rhythm.
isn't as if the Rams shot FGCU out of the gym with a powerful offensive
display. VCU finished 8-30 from three, and sharpshooter Troy Daniels
was 3-10 on his own. To be sure there were fits and starts, especially
at the start when FGCU threw a 3-2 zone at the offense, reducing its
ability to whip the ball around the perimeter. However after a feeling
out period the offense found its rhythm.
VCU led 11-10 at the
under 12 media timeout when it happened. After FGCU missed a free throw,
Daniels hit a three. Then a Juvonte Reddic steal led to Treveon Graham
squaring his shoulders to the rim like a running back, drawing a foul
and converting an old-school three point play. Darius Theus followed
with a three on a set play.
A moment later a Briante Weber steal turned
into another Daniels three. Daniels immediately stole the ball at halfcourt and fed
Theus for a layup. Teddy Okereafor hit a three 28 seconds later on
another set play.
was 11-10 after eight minutes, and the 18-2 run to get the
game to a 29-12 rout occurred in a little over three minutes.
VCU forced 20 steals and 25 turnovers while reducing the electric
current in the second half. You surely know about Weber's 10 steals in
18 ludicrously frenetic minutes. (For detail, Chris Kowalczyk absolutely
nails it.) But in a game like this, a blowout by halftime, I try to
look between the numbers and recall "what I saw."
number one recurring theme: confidence. You have to have confidence before you can have swag. It's a fact.
Rob Brandenberg made
aggressive, confident plays. Brandenberg's shots didn't fall but he
didn't hang his head and continued to attack. Juvonte Reddic rose and
fired from 17-feet like a guard whose been shooting that shot for 15
years. (Swish.) The Freight Train made four of five from the line, and while TeddyO remains a tad hesitant, his five assists attest to his
understanding of the offense. That understanding is the most important trait to have
as a backup point guard.
Melvin Johnson. He's going to be fun to watch mature and figure out the
college game. The first five times he touched the ball, he shot the
ball. Johnson tires quickly and is rushing things, but that makes him
like every other freshman in the country. The important thing–Johnson
has the confidence to keep after it. You can already see his open court
gifts, which to date are far more impressive than the shooting prowess
Jeezy peezy Briante Weber. Go back and re-read Kowalczyk's piece. Here's my second favorite quote:
“Oh, it’s so hard, trying, just looking at the ball. It’s right there.
You’ve got to have it,” said Weber. “You’ve just got to channel it on
the inside. Nah, discipline, discipline. I’ve got to talk to myself. But
sometimes I lose that and try to go for it, and I put my team in a
bind…and I’ve got to channel it back.”
You should be smiling if you were in The Stu last night. It was both an
electric and special evening. It started when a 10-year old girl named
Ashley belted out God Bless America with X-Factor quality. The tribute
to Coach Keyes was moving, then Ashley came back for the National
the players introducing themselves was pretty cool, and the Havoc Lives
Here banner spread out across the student section was way cool.
Outstanding, all, and marketing honcho Corrie Sears should rightfully
take a bow.
fact, we stopped talking on the radio broadcast for a few seconds and
just listened, so everyone, including me and Robby, could take it all
in. But the best part? As the FGCU players milled around halfcourt prior
to the tip, they were smiling and laughing and pointing and shaking their heads. It was obvious
the words that were spoken among teammates: "can you believe this place?"
A Curmudgeon's View
can understand garbage time sloppiness, but the start of the second
half was not good. Clearly there wasn't the same laser sharp focus that
turned an 11-10 lead into a 46-20 halftime advantage. Two over-the-top
lobs for layups–easily defended with simple help defense–sandwiched a
backdoor cut for another layup and produced a 30-second timeout from Smart.
That's simple awareness and should not happen.
In the short term, Wichita State and anybody we play in Atlantis will not lay down at the half. These teams are far more talented and relentless and will make an inattention to detail far worse than six points, a timeout, and a tongue-lashing.
In the long term, these kinds of lulls must be avoided on nights where the offense is slow to find its footing, or the shots aren't falling.
***Briante Weber: In addition to 10 steals in 18 minutes, Weber knocked down 6-7 field goals and his only three. And there's this gem, my favorite from last night: “[I] prey. Just, like a tiger on a rabbit,” Weber said. “I just prey.
Just prey. I just see something and I’ve just got to have it. Some
people want it. I’ve just got to have it.”
**Treveon Graham: We can talk as conceptual as you'd like, but in the end players must produce for VCU to win. Graham stuffed 15 points, seven rebounds (five offensive!), three assists, and a steal into his stat sheet.
* Juvonte Reddic: A near double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, but a couple of the rebounds were grown man snatches. Plus, Reddic didn't force the action and took what he was given–those are upperclassman decisions.