Sometime early in the season during a session in media room at the Siegel Center, Shaka Smart was asked about scheduling. His response was something along the lines that it's tough to get teams to play home-and-home with VCU, punctuating his remark by putting his thumb over his shoulder, glancing backwards towards the playing floor, and asking rhetorically, "do you really want to come play in that animal?"
Smart was of course referring to the 7700 fans, the Peppas, and everything that makes The Stu a capital letters That Animal. But you know what?
We can do more. Much more.
That's why I am personally challenging the RamNation, and the challenge is simple: don't wait until game time to get to your seat to turn 1200 W. Broad into That Animal. Get to your seat and get the festivities going with about 10-15 minutes on the clock.
I want Richmond to be intimidated in warm ups. Rattle their layup line for God's sake.
I want to get a text from my buddy who lives in Illinois that reads "you people are nuts."
I want Rob Dauster and Andy Katz and Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas tweeting and retweeting some version of "10 minutes before tipoff and the VCU fans are already off the hook." Yeah, I want an off the hook from Jon Rothstein.
Look, we've got a blackout planned. I want the ESPN cameras to come on the air and it looks like the lights are off in the building and they are running audio from a Beatles concert. NO EMPTY SEATS.
It isn't difficult. Just get out of your house early, out of the hospitality rooms early. Parents, do exactly what you've told your children for years: "if you show up 10 minutes early and prepared…" Join the Peppas with their early greetings.
Here's the thing: we are not a wine-and-cheese crowd. Brunch is for sissies. Show our rivals and everyone that tunes in to ESPN that the hour of the day doesn't dictate the passion we bring to the VCU basketball program.
All it takes to accomplish this is to accept my challenge: be in your seat, shirt on, and screaming your fool head off with about 12 minutes to go before tip. Your payoff: the quaking legs of our opponent, who can't even warm up without being subjected to That Animal.