VCU 71, UMass 62…Or, One Tribe Y’all…

Havoc is predicated on the relationship between offense and defense. When it's working each arm embraces the other, creating a symbiotic system of attack.

The defense gets credit for forcing turnovers, but havoc cannot set up unless there is a score. And the offense is electric when open court transition leads to threes and layups, but it cannot occur without the defense creating those power plays.

It doesn't always have to work together to be effective. Forced turnovers can lead to missed shots, and the Rams can score i halfcourt offensive sets. But when it does work together, havoc is devastating.

VCU trailed 23-15 when the first wave hit yesterday. Troy Daniels drilled a three. UMass missed a shot. Daniels hit another three. Then a UMass turnover and a third Daniels three. Then a turnover and a Briante Weber dunk. It was an 11-0 VCU run in 97 seconds.

Later, with VCU nursing a 44-42 lead in the second half, a six-possession stretch featured four turnovers and a missed shot for UMass. VCU scored eight points, including Treveon Graham's only field goal of the game, and in 2:04 it was a 54-44 lead.

The final sequence came with five minutes to play and UMass again trailing by just two. Weber grabbed a rebound and sprinted into the frontcourt. His layup and foul produced a conventional three-point play. Weber then poked the ball free on the defensive end, dashed up court, and fed Daniels for his sixth three-pointer of the game. A 58-56 lead was 64-56 in 18 seconds.

Eventually, VCU opponents get tired of taking these punches. Sometimes, it's the mental fatigue.

Shaka Smart said after the St. Joseph's victory that this VCU team is not pretty. Rather, it's a scrappy bunch. Scrappers work on your mind and your body. And that is why VCU plays this afternoon in the A10 finals.


Here's your RamNation Travels note of the day.

Troy Machir was one of the founders of the excellent college basketball blog Ballin' Is A Habit. Troy moved on to write for College Basketball Talk at NBCSports. It's a bookmark of mine, and it should be a bookmark of yours. The guy has seen a lot of basketball.

Machir, as part of his wrap up of today's victory over UMass, said that the

Ram Nation isn’t a fan base as much as it is a congregation of wild celebration and intimidation.

The band is no ordinary pep band. It’s a rowdy accompaniment of brass, belting out paeans and rallying cries.

“Havoc” isn’t just the term of VCU’s trademark defense, it’s the
embodiment of the entire Ram Nation. From the players, to the coaches,
the staff, fans and band members.