We're going to play with a lot of
effort. Our guys are going to be in such
good shape that fatigue is not going to be a problem. We're going to
play with full effort from snap to whistle on every play the entire
What I've been telling everyone that loves Carolina
football is that we are going to put a team out there that, number one,
is in good shape. We're going to be fit, we are going to be able to play
the whole game and we're not going to poop out.
him or hate him, The Old Ball Coach knows what he's doing. He can find a way to get his teams home even in less than ideal situations.
is very appropriate for Saturday's road win over St. Bonaventure. VCU
never trailed after taking a 13-11 lead, but never jacked the lead to
double digits until the game's late stages. The Bonnies hit shots and
kept the game close, until superior conditioning helped VCU extend the lead
and provide the cushion.
first half lacked any sort of flow–chunky is the best descriptor.
Between both teams turning the ball over, fouls, and Bonnies head coach
Mark Schmidt calling intelligent timeouts, there were
multiple stoppages in play. The very second it appeared the Rams were
about to snap off one of those 14-2 runs that bury its opponent, Schmidt
tapped his shoulders and stopped play.
were three ties and four lead changes in the first 10 minutes of play,
but consecutive jumpers from Jarred Guest, Troy Daniels and Treveon
Graham gave VCU its largest lead of the
stanza at six, 19-13 with just over eight minutes left before the break.
A three from Rob Brandenberg stretched the Rams' lead to nine at one
point, but the Bonnies forced
VCU into 10 first-half turnovers and knocked down five three-pointers to
cut the VCU lead to 32-29 heading into the break.
Guest played outstanding minutes off the bench, as Graham and Juvonte Reddic battled foul troubles.
second half was much of the same with the Rams' cushion never
getting greater than nine until just under 10 minutes left in the game. However
Graham put the squad on his back, finishing with 17 points and pulling in nine rebounds, and VCU slowly
pulled away and made just enough free throws down the stretch.
The 72-65 win was VCUs 11th straight victory and moved the Rams to 2-0 in the Atlantic 10.
Where Things Changed
Smart sensed a moment. He had taken Juvonte Reddic out of the game with
about nine and one-half minutes to play, ostensibly to give the big man
some rest through the under eight media timeout so that Reddic could play
all-out down the stretch.
after Dimitrius Conger hit two free throws and Bonnie big man Youssa
Ndoye grabbed a rebound over DJ Haley and Jarred Guest (who fouled
Ndoye), Smart knew he couldn't wait. With 8:10 to play and VCU gripping a
58-53 lead, he summoned Reddic back into play.
Theus, Melvin Johnson, Brandenberg, and Graham were on the floor. One
minute later Troy Daniels replaced Johnson. That lineup, fresher than
its opponent, stifled
the Bonnies for the next 4:42, holding them without a point en route to
an 8-0 run and a 66-53 lead with 3:28 remaining.
What It Means: The Skinny
St. Bonaventure students came to play, as did the Bonnies. Mark
Schmidt's team had big, physical guards who were not necessarily scared
of havoc. It was an A10 road game played in the most hostile environment,
against the most talented team the Rams have faced in a true road game.
was a weird, taut game. VCUs led essentially the entire afternoon, but the
lead toggled between three and seven points for 90% of the game minutes.
The VCU offense was spotty–15 turnovers is probably five too many. For
the third straight game the Rams made just five three-pointers. Havoc
wasn't collecting turnovers in its wheel-barrow.
the team showed a resolve–again–that we don't usually see. There will
be tougher road tests this season, so it's nice to again take a step
forward–a road step. I truly believe St. Bonaventure is going to win games in that building. In sum: this is a game VCU loses in seasons past. (See: UNCW, Georgia State.)
Theus was smiling as we walked from the locker room back out onto the
court. He mentioned to me that the game was a lot of fun, that he
enjoyed playing in front of a full house. That also bodes well for
future challenges and crowds that are coming. Ever the winner, that Darius Theus.
Statistic(s) That Jump Out At Me
You want proof of the weirdness of this game? VCU committed 10 first
half turnovers, and Bona turned them into exactly bupky points.
31/6. Theus had seven assists and one turnover Saturday. Theus has
committed exactly one turnover in six straight games. Over that time, he
has a 31/6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
63.6%; 38.5%. VCU made 21-33 of its two-point shots, and Bona made just 10-26 of its two-pointers. That's stout.
The Curmudgeon's View
that two-point shot statistic is pretty impressive, but 5-17 from three
is not. That's three straight games VCU has made just five
three-pointers. In fact, after hitting 16-34 from three against ETSU,
the Rams are 15-64 in the three games since.
while I may be all crunchy I'm not dramatic. VCU didn't escape any of
the past three games and the Rams didn't win despite not shooting
threes. This team has multiple weapons. However–and this begins on
Thursday night with St. Joseph's–there are teams that we will face and
we will need that arc weaponry. Let's face it–Bona was preseason 11th
or 12th. Saturday played out just about exactly how it should have
played out. This pace of swish cannot continue against top teams.
Also, VCU was 13-22 (59%) from the line against ETSU.
Then 29-32 (91%) combined against Lehigh and Dayton. And 15-27 (56%)
Saturday. I can live with being a 70% free throw shooting team, the cumulative total of these four games. But for the love of everything that grows hair can we level that out a bit?
Stars of the Game
***Treveon Graham. The Freight Train put up a 13-points, five rebounds second half. As he continues to mature, Graham will add noteworthy games to his ledger. In this one, it's the first I can remember where Graham put the team on his back during a close road game.
**Jarred Guest. Allrighty then. Guest played nine total minutes against Dayton and five total minutes against Lehigh. Foul trouble put Guest on the floor for nine first half minutes Saturday. He responded, with seven points, three rebounds, and a steal. Guest also hit a key baseline jumper in the second half.
*Darius Theus. As opposed to Graham, we've seen this kind of game from Theus. The senior simply managed the game extremely well–seven assists and one turnover. Sometimes glitzy is defined by the lack of bad.
Courtesy of Jeff Horne…