Richmond 86, VCU 74…Or, Last Night Was Like Chewing A Pine Cone. And Then Digesting It…

up, RamNation. Life is about moments, and last night was a tough one.

Yes, it was a game firmly in the grasp of the good guys but anyone thinking the Rams were going to walk through the regular season
without a blemish should now be awakened to the truth that this is a
very good VCU basketball that is also not infallible. Sure, you can look
at a missed free throw, a late foul, a late non-foul, whatever. It's
pointless now.

Sometimes the other guy makes plays, and sometimes the
other guy takes advantage of your mistakes. That's what occurred last night.

are mistakes, but the true measure of their importance is how an
opponent takes advantage of those mistakes. VCU made mistakes–there's no denying that. However Richmond didn't waste one single opportunity. The Spiders also hit 9-18 threes in
the second half and overtime–10-19 if you count the three in which
Kendall Anthony was fouled beyond the arc and made all three free
throws. They hit big shots and long shots. The Spiders capitalized.

at it from the VCU perspective. The Rams count on turnovers as part of
its attack. Turnovers–or, mistakes. The Spiders turned the ball over
just 13 times last night, and a
great number of those were not live ball turnovers that VCU could
capitalize on to create pace, and points. The Rams grabbed just five steals and scored 17 points off
turnovers. That's the real story here–Richmond did a fantastic job
taking care of the basketball. Or, not providing the Rams mistakes they
could use to ratchet up the octane levels.

Richmond controlled the pace of the
game, not VCU. It was a slower, rock fight-ish game that took the Rams out of their comfort
level. When the pace picked up late in the second half, VCU went on that
run that established the lead. But again, Richmond made plays down the stretch.

tip your cap to the other guy, no matter how salty the pine cone, and move on. Live in this moment,
because there's nothing whatsoever that can be done about last night. I
can tell you for certain it was a late night for the coaches looking at
the tape of the game. They will pinpoint areas of failure that will
require work, and get to work.

You're not being intellectually honest if you don't admit VCU was on
the good end of this exact situation against St. Joseph's. You want to
be the Hawks? Duke in 2007? UNCW in 2005? South Florida in 1992?
You want to be Gonzaga the other night against Butler?

Nobody does.

some point in
the looney-tunes world of college basketball, we were bound to be the
fire hydrant. Besides, LaSalle is already en route to Richmond. As Shaka
Smart said in the postgame, in many respects the most important part of
Saturday's game
will be who is able to move on from their emotions from midweek
games–LaSalle on a high after beating Butler, and VCU at a low after
last night.

I've said it before, lament is a useless
emotion. We lost. We will lose again. It will hurt. But progress, and
champions, is made from looking forward, not back. By the time lunch is over, LaSalle needs to be the focus. Don't get me wrong, I'm randomly cursing to nobody in particular about nothing in particular, other than last night's loss. Nobody likes to lose.

Statistics That Jump Out At Me

VCUs free throws in the first half. It was a terrible floor half for
the Rams. If not for a perfect mark from the line, and Melvin Johnson
(see below), VCU would've trailed by double digits at the break.

The number of steals, the number of assists (on 22 baskets), and the number of Rob Brandenberg's fouls. I
don't think his absence in overtime can be underestimated.

That's the turnover differential. The Rams have been able to overcome
poor shooting nights by creating extra possessions via the turnover.
Last night, both teams committed 13 turnovers.

The Curmudgeon's View

VCU made three of 17 three point attempts on the night. That's 37-144 (25.7%) over the past six games, and 25-113 (22.1%) if you throw out the Duquesne game. That must improve. You can talk all you want about defense and end game situations. Semantics. We've just got to start knocking down threes at a better clip.

Or, VCU lost. Next question.

Stars of the Game

Smart said it best: "Melvin came to play tonight." And as
listed above, without Johnson hitting 4-4 in the first half, I believe
VCU trails by double digits.

It's no coincidence that VCU looked better when Graham involved
himself in the game. The Fright Train had no points and three rebounds
at the half, and finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds–including six
offensive rebounds.

*Juvonte Reddic.
The big man fairly pummeled the Spiders when he got the ball in
position. Reddic grabbed seven offensive rebounds on his way to a 20/10

Shot Chart

Courtesy of Jeff Horne: