UncategorizedVCUHoops (Michael Litos Blog)

VCU 73, LBSU 67. Or, I Bought The Same Wine, And It Tasted Differently…

Kaizen is a Japanese term for improvement, change for the better, or good change. It refers to the philosophy or practices that focus on continuous improvement. The key to kaizen is to "Go to Gemba," or, go to the hardwood.

The coaching staff observed what they saw on the hardwood after FSU and put into place its basketball Gemba:

1. Assess the action, looking for things that needs to be improved.

2. Plan and design a new way.

3. Implement that change.

4. Evaluate that change.

5. Start over from step one.

There steps are valuable to a team over the course of a basketball season, but especially valuable in a tournament setting with quick turnaround. The belief is that success comes though cans, not can'ts. And that's exactly how the victory over a very game LBSU team played out.

VCU changed its mental approach and stuck with its process. The Rams continued to press forward despite a game effort from LBSUs Mike Caffey. It was a minor tweak, and every bit of it was located above the shoulders, but it mattered. 

It's precisely how defense set up offense and the 13-0 burst that turned an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead midway through the second half. VCU forced LBSU to take more difficult shots that earlier in the half and turned them over just enough to open up the offensive attack on the basket.

It also showed that havoc isn't all about turnovers. It's about slowing the opponent in any number of ways.

"Our guys battled. They did everything we asked them to do gameplan-wise," said LBSU coach Dan Monson. "But unfortunately fatigue became a factor."

And once fatigue became a factor VCU was able to get easier shots against the zone and make stops late.

Juvonte Reddic arrived in ill humor this evening, blocking shots and dropping shot jumpers at will. Rob Brandenberg hit four threes and displayed that Brandenberg Scowl. He played like a senior leader. Briante Weber assumed full control of the offense, and Mo Alie Cox continued to impress early in his career.

It was a team victory and reminiscent of the way good VCU teams stack up good wins. Most importantly it was the kind of bounce back you wanted to see. The game was far closer and in far more jeopardy than aybody woud've liked, and that's credit to Long Beach State, but you had to like the way the game played out.

So this was a game that was a step forward for the team as they get their footing. And just as it's a step forward you can bet the caching staff is already deep nto Step Five: start over at step one.

That is the process Shaka Smart continues to talk about, and it plays out one step at a time. We tried to skip steps and that's how Flroida State happened. This was the lesson. When the VCU basketball team trailed by eight in the second half tonight, they could've fallen into that habit that showed its ugly head just 24 hours earlier–they could've tried to skip steps, play for themselves, and dug a deeper hole.

The other team is trying to win, too. They will succeed and many times build a lead. Lesser teams get selfish or fold.

VCU did not, and that's the takeaway from this game. Trailing by eight, they honored the process. They stuck with it. The game turned in that 13-0 run, and it would never have occurred if they didn't take a step forward mentally. That's what good basketbal teams do.