This is a big game. It will be a fun game. It is also one game on the schedule. No matter what happens on Tuesday night, don't get too high or too low and place too much emphasis on the result. Then again, once we win you can have a Stella (or three) on me.
I will have a second post either late Monday or early Tuesday with additional specifics. While neanderthals were busying themselves with the NFL, I was thinking about this game, outside in the beautiful RVA Sunday. What you read below is the result. What's more, both Shaka Smart and Tony Bennett have media availability tomorrow. Plenty more to come.
My Eyes For Your Eyes: Tolstoy Edition
The Death of Ivan Ilych: This game isn't about pace. It
isn't, at its core, about fast vs. slow. Do your best to resist that cliche. So that we are clear: the chances of a
VCU victory go way up if it's a track meet, and they tilt in Virginia's favor
the closer we get to a rock fight.
But havoc can be successful in a slower-paced game. Remember, Benefit #1 of havoc
is creating extra possessions for the offense. That is not reliant on how many.
It's reliant on how many more. The game doesn't have to be like a helicopter
dropping fresh 20s over the outfield between games of a baseball doubleheader,
with kids and adults scurrying everywhere for a payday. Havoc can succeed
within the confines of a haunted house, where a slow walk through dark halls
are punctuated with Zombie Jarred Guest popping from a coffin and scaring
Malcolm Brogdon half out of his wits.
VCU has to make the game go sideways, or crooked. Virginia has the comforts of
home and the comforts of being very good at what they do. Just because they play a slower, sit down, technically-sound "system," don't delude yourself into thinking we can simply overwhelm them.
However that's all
straightline, natural basketball. VCU has to get the Cavaliers thinking,
big men passing in space or shooting a harried three. Brogdon entering the offense by passing to his Plan B guy, not someone like Joe Harris. Akil Mitchell shooting from 12 feet as opposed to eight feet. VCU has to introduce
discomfort in Virginia's minds, then in their bodies.
The life of havoc is not pace. It's about disruption, which is better, and that's how VCU wins this game. Keep Charlottesville weird.
It becomes vital in relation to Joe Harris, the Virginia
star who does for the Cavaliers what Troy Daniels did for VCU last year. A
Daniels three made everybody's chest swell. Daniels had his finger on the Swag
Switch. Harris does the same thing for Virginia, so it's imperative that VCU does not allow
Harris to have a first team all-ACC game.
War and Peace: This is not VCUs Super Bowl. Anybody that goes down that
path has no idea what this program is all about. It's a black-and-white
proposition: VCU has the opportunity to nab a road victory against a team that
will be in the RPI top 50 come year's end. The goals of this program are not to
hang with Virginia or hopefully upset Virginia. Our goals surround winning NCAA
tournament games, and this is part of that process.
Now saying that, I will say we are going to learn a little
about where this family is right now, and I need you to saw your brain in half to
consider this point.
On one side, this is a point-in-time barometer. It tells us where we are right
now. Win or lose isn't the point. We've all seen some great things and we all
think certain things. This game tells us where we are on the path to our goals.
An end-game three-pointer that either swishes or bricks to provide a win or
loss is irrelevant because it doesn't change what occurred to get to that shot.
This is what Shaka Smart is talking about when he mentions honoring the process. Keep half your brain set on how we play and divorce yourself from the result, as it's a big part of the process.
On the other side, it's all about the win or loss. There are
resume ramifications, ranking validation, and there is everything that comes
after Tuesday. What happens against Winthrop, win or lose? How about Puerto
A win may (or may not) be a shot in the arm for the neck-up needs of this team. A loss may (or may not) present more than teaching moments. How we approach the next set of games on the schedule are directly
impacted by winning or losing. So the impact of winning or losing is critical and you will be able to gauge that impact more clearly after Winthrop and Florida State.
See how the process works?
And I'm willing to admit it: beating those blue bloods and their haughty, holier-than-thou attitudes will be awfully satisfying.
Them There Cavaliers
We will go into the lineup in a follow-up post. UVa head coach Tony
Bennett is also holding a media session tomorrow, so we will try to
listen in and provide relevant quotes. For now, here are some quotes
from Bennett after UVa's win over JMU Friday night:
On point guard Malcolm Brogdon: "I thought he was very good early on. He was a steady force for us. He
knocked down some shots and made some plays. I thought in the second
half he showed some rust, he got in trouble, got up in the air, and got
lost. I thought defensively he was getting a little flat footed and gave
too much cushion, but then he picked it up."
On early game vs. JMU: "Our shot selection early everyone took the first chance they got, there
were some open looks and they just let it fly. We almost didn’t get a
chance to get established on the glass and we said let’s just rotate the
ball and get on the paint."
On distributed scoring: "I think we are a more balanced team this year. Guys will get shots and I
am hoping they are going to fall. I am not going to say we are a great
shooting team, but we have guys who can get it going and I think that
can open up the game."
Virginia center Mike Tobey: "He told us we need to pick it up for next game. We have VCU next, so we
need to pick up our intensity and level of play. It’s a good team we