It's opportunity knocking, exactly the opportunity our realistic brains wanted knocking on this exact day.
Even the most ardent believer couldn't have expected to come to Atlantis and drill three nationally-ranked programs. Oh it would've been awfully nice, and it's fun to dream, isn't it? It made for great burger-flipping conversation at your summertime cookout, but you know better. You know that would not have been realistic thinking.
However, VCU sits in a very realistic position this morning: 1-1 against two highly-ranked teams, with the opportunity to hop a plane for home with wins over Memphis and Missouri in the cargo hold. That's a realistic expectation, 2-1, and one that resonates with the growing VCU program.
VCU doesn't hope for success anymore; it expects success. Don't take that in any egotistical or arrogant manner. It isn't that at all. The program expects that it competes with the best in the country and that's exactly what's occurring this weekend. It's the driver behind the move to the Atlantic 10. The VCU basketball program is exactly like every one of us who played basketball in junior high. In order to get better, you had to play against better, and older, players. For VCU, "older" means programs that have established themselves nationally for far longer.
You aren't living in reality if you don't expect to lose games like last night's ballpeen-hammer-to-the-toes. It's going to happen. It happens because VCU is playing other programs that expect those same things, and they have held that expectation for many years. Those programs lose, too. Heck, five of them lost to VCU in the 2011 NCAA tournament.
That's why I can say VCU expects national success without arrogance. There is a humility tied to it–we will lose hard-fought games to very good basketball programs. The difference is that this is our neighborhood now. VCU is now a "good win" as opposed to the opposition "surviving an upset."
Deal with Duke, and move forward. Lament is useless, and winners don't lament. We have to learn from what we saw last night, and look to Missouri because that's the laser-sharp focus that is needed in the big boy sandbox.
So here we are, with opportunity having pulled back the screen door and is rapping on the door. This is where every single one of us–players, coaches, administrators, fans–want to be. It's time to seize the opportunity, and Missouri stands in the way.