Yeah, yeah, yeah. Quick shots, relaxing defense, giving up 56 points in the second half. And yeah, I know St. Joseph's scored 23 points in the first half and 22 points in the final 1:51 of the game. But here's my summary:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
The Hawks scored 79,
And we scored 82.
Survive and advance, my friends. Survive and advance. This is the way VCU plays. It's what built that lead. Yes I agree that Troy Daniels should've u-turned and burned clock but that isn't the VCU identity. Wide open threes? I take them, too.
Honestly, I was more burned up on the defensive end. The Hawks had two players that could score. Havoc turned into cheesecloth on Carl Jones, and I cannot understand backing off Langston Galloway.
But here's why I'm not concerned about the end-game: that loosey-goosey was brought on entirely by a big lead. It's fixable and would only occur with such a cushion. You can bet your bippy the coaching staff had a few words about discipline.
VCU was 8-11 from the line down the stretch, and executed the executioner's inbounds play that freed Briante Weber for the exclamation point flush. Yes the wheels got wobbly, but when the Rams HAD TO MAKE A PLAY, they did just that.
It's March. We are who we are. There is no more growth and learning. It's a matter of making plays and executing.
On to UMass.
Statistics That Jump Out At Me
4, 4, 14. David Hinton didn't affect the boxscore, but he affected the game. Hinton made three strong defensive plays that led to SJU turnovers and VCU points. No backing down from Hinton. Jarred Guest grabbed four big rebounds and was an effective presser. And Justin Tuoyo played 14 minutes–his most since Stetson on November 28 and second most of the season–and knocked down a three.
Five. The Rams placed five players in double figures. Graham (17), Daniels (14), Brandenberg (13), Theus (12), and Johnson (12) did the honors. That's the kind of balance that makes you a dangerous team. VCU scored 1.17 points per possession.
The Formula (17, 13): VCU forced 17 turnovers and is now 25-0 when forcing 15 or more in a game. Rob Brandenberg scored 13 points. VCU is now 16-0 when the Brandenberg scores 11 or more points.
2. 2:48. Halil Kanacevic elbowed The Freight Train in the jaw and picked up a flagrant foul around the 11:00 mark. Kanacevic was called for a reach-in foul with 2:48 to play. Those fouls were the only whistles blown against St. Joseph's in the second half before they started fouling to stop the clock. Amazing to me a team can play more than 17 minutes and commit one foul.
The Curmudgeon's View
Keep the end-game thing. I'm really not concerned about it. Today, against UMass I want to see Juvonte Reddic get into gear. Reddic put the ball on the floor too often last night and SJU was able to dig it out. I don't think Reddic played poorly, but he certainly played a little tentative on the offensive end. VCU is going to need Angry Juvonte.
Stars of the Game
***Melvin Johnson. That freshman wall? Johnson scoffs at it. He's getting better folks, and 12 points in 19 minutes is becoming common. At no point did Johnson look overwhelmed. In fact, I'd say Johnson overwhelmed the moment. Robby said one thing on the broadcast last night that I filed away. We're going to love hearing these words for the next three-plus years: "Melvin Johnson has the ball in space."
**Treveon Graham. Look, we can overanalyze all we want, but here's the sum. Every now and then, you need your best player to simply make baskets. That's what Graham did last night. He hit two big response-threes and was generally unstoppable when he needed to be unstoppable.
*Briante Weber. Five steals, five assists, and three rebounds are what the boxscore tells me. But if you watched Weber–watched him closely–you can see he had a much bigger impact on the game. That was Weber playing an A game.