You want an A-game from the Rams in a big spot? You got it. Briante Weber channeled his Inner Iverson and Mo Alie Cox channeled his Inner Mutombo and the Rams ran away from Richmond.
It was significant not because Juvonte Reddic played just 10 minutes and Weber just 18 minutes, but because guys like Cox and Jordan Burgess got extended run in a tournament situation. That will pay off today, tomorrow, and next week.
We could not have asked for a better night. And now we move forward.
He won't say it, and I may not even ask, but a victory today against George Washington makes Shaka Smart VCUs alltime winningest coach. He will accomplish this feat before finishing his fifth season. Suitcase Sonny Smith had 136 wins in his nine years on the VCU bench.
And irrelevant until Monday morning.
Now is time for focus on a very good GW team.
A quick story: I rode the elevator up this morning with Patricio Garino, the Colonials consummate team player and rising star. He was a nice kid–said hello and asked what floor I was on even though I was wearing a VCU shirt. I thought about "spilling" my scalding hot coffee all over him, causing second-degree burns to his shooting hand and maybe his eyes.
Then I remembered I am not a crazy person, wished him luck, and got off the elevator.
GW was similarly impressive in their victory over Massachusetts last night. The Colonials put six players between 12-15 points in a game that wasn't as close as the 85-77 final. They hit nine threes and shot 51% overall.
Balance is GWs best asset. They can hit Kevin Larsen on the blocks, where he is complemented very well by the bouncy and JYD-style Isaiah Armwood. Garino carries an all-around arsenal and Mo Creek can shoot it. Finally Joe McDonald is a steady, heady point guard. Nemana Mikic can shoot from the bench.
That balance provides high quality shooting opportunities, and they knock down their shots better than anyone in the A10. On the defensive end, head coach Mike Lonergan mixes in that confounding 1-3-1 zone. VCU was able to pound the zone in the second game by not hesitating in offensive sets. You can get good shots against that zone but you have to make quick decisions–shoot when the opportunity arises. If you hesitate the zone is able to recover and you are in trouble.
That said, these aren't the Showtime Lakers. Those are their six frontline players and also provides the opportunity. GW can get loose with the basketball. They had 19 turnovers last night in a game that ended after 11pm. I'm not a big fatigue guy, but fatigue may set in for no other reason than logistics.
You want to play for a championship you do your things.
The Rams enter today’s contest on a five-game winning streak, holding three of those five opponents to less than 60 points. VCU has outrebounded its opposition by a +8.2 margin. During the streak, VCU is limiting their opponents to 38.3-percent from the field and just 58.4 ppg.
That's where everything resides. GW is a good shooting team. So VCU has to play staunch defense and reduce their effectiveness. GW is a good rebounding team. VCU has to maintain its rebounding prowess. And GW is loose with the basketball. VCU has to take advantage of those opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for live ball turnovers and fast break points.
This is about imposing your will, and VCU will want to open up the court. GW doesn't mind running, but we need to turn it in the Ice Cream Theory. I like ice cream, but not when you feed it to me by the gallon. VCU has to run, run, and run.
The Rams and Colonials split their regular season series with each team winning on their respective home courts. Treveon Graham, Rob Brandenberg and Melvin Johnson all scored in double-figures in both games. Both teams averaged over 75 points a game in those two games with VCU forcing 43 turnovers in the two games.
There you go, your three word summary: fast and loose.
Finally, I think VCU learned a lot in its first game loss to GW. Shaka Smart has mentioned that was an important game in the season, a game in which progress was made in terms of maturity. I like the feel of a mature VCU who happens to be playing well.
I also want my Sunday to be a mess in terms of scheduling, complicated by some time at KBH.