What would you say if I told you a recent VCU freshman debuted in an exhibition game by scoring 16 points and turning in a dominating performance? Kid was destined for stardom, no?
How does your opinion change if I follow that by telling you this same kid played less than 10 minutes per game in his first five regular season games, going 1-16 from the field? And then shot a blistering 2-7 over his next three games to begin his VCU career 3-23 from the field?
Yeah, that’s the start of Treveon Graham’s career.
Doug Brooks led VCU with 14 points in last year’s exhibition win over CalPA and proceeded to make 3-14 shots over his first 12 games in a VCU uniform. Brooks got more than six minutes of burn twice in those 12 games.
The point: take Justin Tillman’s double-double last Friday with a grain of salt. Ditto Terry Larrier’s second half and the obvious impact of Buttermilk Williams. It’s neither a predictor of greatness, nor a predictor of mediocreness. Even Graham, who will go down as one of the greatest players in VCU basketball history–if not its alltime leading scorer–was not much help the first month or so of his freshman season.
The other point: give all four freshmen time. There will be times each wows you, and there will be times each bewilders you.
Tennessee will present a wholly different challenge. The Vols play in the SEC and are bigger, longer, and stronger–and there are more of them–than any team those guys have faced. Ever. As Lou Brown once famously said, “this ain’t the California Penal League.”
But make no mistake: they are starting from a far superior point, and there’s this: Shaka Smart and his coaching staff have made their mark developing kids, molding them, making them better basketball players as they matriculate.
Be hopeful, but don’t delude yourself into thinking there won’t be moments of holy crap. Lots of them, and they’re coming soon. And there will be wow moments. Lots of them, and they’re coming soon.