If you didn’t think the day would come when VCU would lose a basketball game, then I want to come to your house and drink from your faucet. I’m a glass-half-full guy, and probably a glass-three-quarters-full guy when it comes to VCU basketball, but even I knew there would come a day where the Rams would play a sketchy game and lose.
Oh, it stinks that it was that team and in this building, but in the grand scheme of what we’re trying to accomplish this is no different than a loss to UMass or Rhode Island or Dayton.
Just as the coaching staff talks about wins within the framework of 1-0, we need to talk about the 64-55 loss to Richmond within the framework of 0-1. Shaka Smart preaches to his guys not to look at winning streaks. That’s not part of the vaunted process. There’s a formula to winning, and that formula does not coagulate games to create a whole. It doesn’t work that way, as each game is its own entity. So they brave ever-forward, step by step, on their march to March.
So if we’re going to assent to its truth, we have to assent that it’s just as true that a VCU loss is one loss. It cannot carry over to the next game, Wednesday at George Mason. VCU is not suddenly a markedly worse team after 40 minutes with the Spiders just as they were not Final Four material after 40 minutes beating GW. As I type these words I’m sitting with a glass of wine, and I know that I will wake up tomorrow morning, click on ESPN.com, and find VCU at the top of the Atlantic 10 with an 7-1 conference record, and a 17-4 record overall.
Robby and I played the Halloween game to close out today’s broadcast. If you tell me on Halloween that the calendar would flip to February and we’d be 7-1, 17-4 with an RPI around single digits, would I take it?
You bet your ass.
Here’s the whole point of this: we talk about these concepts and constructs of what VCU does to be successful and win basketball games. We love it and it makes for great words and water-cooler conversation. It’s fun and it makes sense. But we always talk about those concepts and constructs within the positive prism of winning. I’m saying those things don’t change in a loss. VCU is still a talented but flawed, and growing, basketball team. What the coaching staff is building is no different after a win than a loss.
The important thing: we didn’t lay an egg. This was not a banana peel game. VCU shot poorly, let frustrations carry over into other facets of the game, made too many one-on-one plays. Richmond made some very good adjustments at halftime, and VCU didn’t respond in the way it should have. It happens, and VCU lost. That’s a lesson you take forward, but you compartmentalize it to one loss, just as you only win them one at a time.
I feel bad right now, but then again I don’t feel bad at all. I know what we have and what we can be, and a late January loss isn’t changing that opinion.
Here’s what I choose to remember from the game, and every other memory will be erased as a nice Barolo slides down my gullet: Mo Alie Cox rejecting Deion Taylor at the rim on a dunk attempt. Good God that was awesome.
Side note: there will be no commentary on Briante Weber until the official word is released. Anything else would be irresponsible. You saw it, and we all share the same feelings. Get well, Bri.