clouds are gathering this Monday morning and Jim Duncan has given us the forecast. We are
getting excited, because Duncan's words paint a picture of havoc. We've
seen it before, but that never diminishes the expectations surrounding
what we know we will see. There's another big storm coming, and the A10 is
finding out it wears black and gold.
Last week, we saw exactly what that storm can produce. St. Joseph's was a bolt of lightning. Duquesne the rumble of
thunder. The Rams poured two more havoc rain storms upon the league, each
with a different feel.
a 92-86 overtime win over St. Joseph's in The Stu and a 90-63 drubbing
of Duquesne in Pittsburgh, VCU stands at 4-0 in the A10 at the conference season's quarter
pole. You could not have painted two wholly different pictures of two
The victory over St. Joseph's stood your hair on end, an electric jolt similar to stepping into the freezing, snow-ridden Richmond late-night from the sauna that became the Siegel Center. The Duquesne win, meanwhile, was the rolling thunder-rumble. It wasn't the sharp blast of thunderclap that raises blood-pressure
and moves pictures on the mantle. Rather it was that slow grumble
that follows the lightning bolt continuing at its unyielding tenor. It never causes you to jump but you dart your eyes and arch your eyebrows–it gives you the distinct feeling
that there's much more behind it.
think, years from now, we will be talking about the St. Joseph's win in the same way we talk about the Mike Doles Game.
More than one person who has been around these parts for years told me
that the moment Treveon Graham hit the three and was fouled in overtime,
it was the loudest they'd ever heard the Siegel Center. I couldn't tell you. I was too busy regaining my composure. It was but the latest–and loudest–lightning strike for the Rams late Thursday night.
level of execution in those final 14 seconds and overtime was simply
amazing. Down four, VCU made St. Joseph's pay the ultimate price for one
tiny mistake. VCU had missed a shot, and two Hawks players grabbed the
rebound, necessitating a walking call. That was all it took.
VCU came out of a timeout and ran a curl screen play for Rob Brandenberg, and Brandenberg was open.
saw Rob open but Troy told me during the timeout to throw him the ball
and he was going to make it, and I love having someone like Troy to pass
the ball to," said Darius Theus in postgame. Sure enough, Daniels–0-9
from three at the time–swished it to cut the deficit to one. The pass
was probably the millionth correct decision Theus made on the evening.
Theus, who scored 22 points on the night, followed his comment by saying: "Troy, Rob, Tre, Ju…it doesn't matter. I don't have to score when I have so many great scorers to pass to."
Rams immediately fouled the inbounds and the Hawks obliged, making one
of two free throws. Trailing by a bucket, Theus broke the ankles of his
defender and cut right to the basket for a game-tying layup. Cue havoc,
which then applied full court pressure, then a deflection, then no shot
was taken. Overtime.
Was there anyone in the college basketball nation
that didn't think the Rams were going to win running away in overtime?
let this get past you: VCU committed five turnovers in 45 minutes. The
Rams' turnover rate was less than one percent (.065). St. Joseph's
turnover rate was 26.0%.
teams are able to go on the road–on short rest and with dead legs
after a big home victory–and grind out a victory. VCU was not able to
that. No, the Rams steamrolled the Dukes. VCU led 13-12 with about 13
minutes to go in the first half when the throttle opened.
Graham hit a three, and then two more over two
minutes, to ignite a 26-2 run that made the game 39-14 with just over
minutes left in the half. During the stretch, havoc forced Duquesne to
come up empty on 20 of 21 possessions. Duquesne had eight straight scoreless
possessions, hit a bucket, and then had 11 more empty possessions. The summary: 1-14 from the field with six turnovers.
finished the half on a 31-6 run and scored the first five points of the
second half in 22 seconds to complete a 36-6 thunderrumble that took
14:20. The remainder of the game looked familiar–eight minutes of garbage time.
It was a night of milestones.
Darius Theus had four steals to become the fourth
player in VCU history to tally 200 career steals. He moved into
third-place all-time on the steals chart (203). Also, Troy Daniels became the fourth
player in VCU history with 200 career three-pointers. He joins Joey Rodriguez
(211), Brad Burgess (231) and BA Walker (269).
The victory was the 100th career win for Shaka Smart. At 35 years old, Smart is the second youngest coach in terms of age to reach the mark–Butler's Brad
Stevens was 34. Smart is the 12th coach in division one history to win 100 or
more games in his first four years. He did so in just 131 games, which is tied
for 30th fastest in division one college basketball history.
Smart's response is both magnanimous, and unsurprising.
"The thing is that's just not my 100th win. It's the
100th win at VCU for Coach Rhoades, Coach Wade, Coach Roose, David Hinton,
Darius Theus, Troy Daniels, all those guys have been around for the last four
years," he said. "Over that time we've made a lot of progress and they all had a huge part
in it. Other than that, it's just another win, we all want to win some more. If
you spend too much time focusing on milestones and accomplishments, you're not
focusing on the next game, which is the only way you can keep getting
Stars of the Game–St. Joseph's
Theus. Check out the tap in birdie stat line of 22 points, 10 assists,
four steals, and zero turnovers. Now consider the ramifications that
Theus made every correct decision, and made everyone better. I'd have to
check, but other than the 11-threes night from Troy Daniels, this may
be the best individual performance of the year. Check that: this was better.
Reddic. Ladies and gentlemen, I present a 15/17 double-double. Plus,
Reddic drew two charges. Here's what makes that even more special:
Reddic amassed this all-around performance against an NBA draft pick (CJ
Aiken) and a second big (Ronald Roberts) who is awfully good.
*Treveon Graham. The Freight Train hit big shot after big shot, in big circumstances.
Yes there was the four-point play in overtime, but even in the second
half Graham jump-started his teammates with timely shots. Consider:
Graham was 4-7 from three. All other VCU players were 3-25.
Stars of the Game–Duquesne
Brandenberg. In a game in which VCU dominated both halves, SuperRob had
11 points and 3 rebounds in the first half, and 11 points and three
rebounds in the second half. Shaka Smart moved him to point guard for
awhile, too. His 22 points were one off a career high.
Graham. Here's what matters: when VCU flexed it's muscles, Graham was
the bicep. He hit three threes in the deciding run, and had 14 points in
the game's first nine minutes.
Haley. The Big Buddha hit all three of his shots–including two o-reb
flushes–and scored six points and had five rebounds in 11 minutes. Oh,
and Haley took two charges.
Courtesy of Jeff Horne: