VCU 92, Winthrop 71…Or, If Lovin’ You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right…
I got somethin'.
It was no masterpiece, this 21-point win, and I could not be happier. The attention to detail, especially on defense in the first half, was a C-. I am being generous with that grade, and it makes me smile. An outgunned Winthrop team hung around in That Animal, and I wish the Eagles would've hung around a little longer.
We saw Juvonte Reddic miss a dunk. Melvin Johnson get lost on defense. Terrance Shannon commit four turnovers in 11 minutes. Jordan Burgess miss all six field goal attempts. Good. Good. Good. Good.
It's simple reasoning, really. It goes back to something I wrote a week ago. I want the guys feeling good about themselves, but not too good. The lightning-strike win on the road at a ranked Virginia team was impressive, truly, but it was also the kind of victory that obscures a lot of fungus. Truth be told–and this is good news–is that VCU played a B-level against Virginia and won. I'm probably again being generous with a grade.
That's the trap. You feel good about winning and think you are good. That's a mistake. But the bigger mistake is that you feel good about the wrong thing. Instead of feeling good about a big win, you should feel good that you won when not playing your best. That should motivate you to get better. That's the line between goodness and greatness: winning, but knowing it isn't good enough. Not yet.
You need guys to act like Mo Alie Cox, who had his best week of practice since he laced up his size 435 shoes. Cox is finding his way, finding his role, and working hard as he learns. It paid off big time–10 points, a spirit-lifting three, and generally-manly play all night. But I'm wagering Cox continues to put in the time. Imagine the VCU front line with Cox playing 14 beastly minutes every night.
The upcoming Florida State game is very important not just because it's another ACC scalp, but what it likely affords the team: another top 15 basketball game against a Michigan team we just might hold a special feeling about playing. VCU needs to play as many of the top teams in the nation for selection committee data, but more importantly to measure ourselves against the best, because that's our neighborhood now. Let me also write it this way: we play the way we played against Winthrop and we don't get Michigan.
So I'm glad it was a tougher than expected fight. In fact, I like the way the season is unfolding, even after just three games. There was the Christmas morning win over Illinois State; then a hard-fought win over Virginia that provides an amazing amount of confidence; then a win over Winthrop that assured the guys wouldn't be too confident. It's a perfect 3-0 record, but more importantly it's a perfect way to get to that 3-0 record.
And understand, though the sample size is small the numbers are favorable. VCU is third in the country in turnover percentage (29.0%) and second in the country in steal percentage (18.4%). That's with these fancy new rules that were supposed to hinder havoc.
And the big point guard question? Ha. Briante Weber is averaging 9.7 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.0 turnovers per game, and 3.7 rpg. Last year Darius Theus was 6.8 ppg, 4.8 apg, 1.9 turnovers per game, and 1.6 rpg. Weber will get better as the season moves forward. What's more–and you can say it because I am–JeQuan Lewis is a player. You can see it coming.
Last night Lewis did not have one of those drives where he charges into traffic or into the back of another player and turns the ball over. That blast-first step didn't get him into trouble. You know those drives we saw frequently in the exhibition and first couple of games. You can see Lewis learning more and more every time out, and with learning comes success and with success comes confidence. It's a matter of time.
A lot to work on, but a lot to work with.
Puerto Rico calls. More Florida State coverage, and more about the trip in general. What happened the last time we played Florida State anyway?