That was a punch in the gut. Thankfully, we don't have to grind through possessions in a futile attempt to explain a close loss. This was not a close loss. This was a beating dirty laundry against a rock, and VCU was the shirt.
There are two takeaways from this game; perhaps a third. First, you have to give Florida State credit. And I'm not talking about the ham-handed "they played a great game" credit; I'm talking about the kind of credit where your opponent takes the play to you, and takes you out of your game.
If VCU drives to the basket were not met with a blocked shot, they were induced into a fling as opposed to a shot. It messed with the mental approach of VCU. On their end, the Seminoles withdstood some early creakiness–FSU had six turnovers before they had their fourth field goal attempt–and found a flow. There were frequent corner-turns for a lob dunk, and Ian Miller played an outstanding first half.
However the most notable part of that disastrous first half was not VCUs poor shooting, nor was it Florida State's specific play. It was the fact that FSU punched VCU in the mouth, and the Rams did not respond. The Seminoles started doing VCU things to VCU, and there was no answer. In the Virginia game there was an answer.
That's what rankled Shaka Smart the most. VCU is the aggressor. VCU attacks. VCU is relentless and overpowering and the good kind of cocky. That was FSU on this night. Smart used loaded words in our postgame talk: wake-up call, guts, and we'll see who's on board. It doesn't take a rocket sceintist to read between those lines: the appreciation to entitlement ratio on this team was askew, and it was corrected on this bad evening of basketball.
And it's almost comical that on a night we'd all like to forget, there was life. VCU had trimmed a 17-point deficit to 10 points and had shut down FSU on its final first half possession. A close out-of-bounds call went the way of the Seminoles and a dunk ensued to end the first half. Fine. Even with that, there was life. VCU knocks down a few jumpers and the second half is different.
Maybe it would've been, had the Rams not missed 12 of its first 13 shots of the second half, committing three turnovers in that span. Boat race.
So here's where we are: not as good as we thoguht going into the evening, but much better than people think leaving this evening. The first 12 minutes of tomorrow's game against Long Beach State will be telling. Forget the score and watch how VCU is playing.
I've got a sneaky feeling that tomorrow is a bad day to be Long Beach State.
And honestly, I'll sleep well knowing two things: one, we haven't played anywhere close to a complete game; and two, that Rob Brandenberg is okay.