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VCU at George Mason: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same…

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.” (Nikos Kazantzakis).

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A friend emailed me this morning and said that the transition from Saturday to tomorrow night’s game is awkward. I can’t think of a better word. However as Shaka Smart said yesterday, we’re not going to cancel the season. Nobody is going to take it easy on VCU because of the devastating injury to Briante Weber, a kid our opposition could not root for but always appreciated and loved watching play.

It’s time to lace ’em up. Besides this is not really new.

Eric Maynor graduated. “The Dagger” did not win Maynor another four years’ eligibility. He passed the baton to Joey Rodriguez, who graduated. Joey handed control to Darius Theus, who took Briante Weber under his wing and then departed. And now it’s JeQuan Lewis’s turn.

The reality is that every player who has ever come through VCU has played the equivalent of four seasons of basketball, and moved on. Lamb, Duncan, Stinnie, Warren, McCoy, Hopkins, Jones, Walker, Skeen, Burgess, Brandenberg. All of them came, and went.

The end of Briante Weber’s career in a VCU uniform was premature and jolting, but it’s time to channel Andy Dufresne: “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

I don’t mean to be callous. The explosive reaction of Saturday’s terrible news was put best by Chris Kowalczyk:

Do you know how much VCU fans love Briante Weber? I thought I did, but I was not prepared for the all-out blitz of emotion pouring from the souls of the VCU faithful. On Saturday night, I wrote a column on my couch in a blur with a pit in my stomach and a stiff drink on the coffee table. Within 10 hours it had become the most read post in this six-year history of this blog.

 

Here’s the thing: we can go look up records and numbers. They are out there if we seek them. However Briante Weber lives in the hearts of VCU fans. He’s always there and you don’t have to go look for it.

We’ve got 10 more regular season games, the A10 tournament, and the NCAA tournament. There’s stuff to do, and it’s time to start more stuff.

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Conference affiliation may have changed, but it’s still George Mason. You know a lot of the Patriots players, but let me introduce you to Shevon Thompson. The juco transfer is 6-11, left-handed, and the most dependably productive big man in the A10. He’s averaging a double-double (14/12) and grabs about six offensive rebounds a game. Mason throws the ball in to him and it rarely comes back out–and rightfully so. Keep an eye on Thompson defensively–he tries to avoid fouls, which means he isn’t as aggressive.

After Thompson, Mason has a plethora of 6-8ppg scorers, all in seemingly mismatched roles.

Marquis Moore is a heady point guard who is an aggressive driver, but turnover prone. He isn’t a good shooter, but will shoot in late shot clock situations. Moore played a lot his freshman season, much like Jalen Jenkins. The 6-7 sophomore is the requisite high motor guy who can also lose control and turn the ball over. You know Corey Edwards, a point guard who is on the Semenov All Stars** team. Edwards is probably Mason’s best three-point threat and a quick-handed defender. Isaiah Jackson is a strong 6-6 and a “little-bit-of-everything” guy.

The x-factor is the health of two kids Mason was supposed to rely on. Patrick Holloway is a deadeye shooter who has struggled in A10 play (5-23 from three) and missed the last three games. And Julian Royal is a big 6-8 post who returned to play the past four games after missing 11 straight outings. (Thanks, Alan!) To be kind, Royal has not lived up to billing.

**–The Semenov All Stars is a team comprised in honor of JMUs Andrey Semenov, who (because of a variety of injuries) was on Matt Brady’s roster for six seasons but it felt much longer. Any player whose name you see on a roster and comment “that guy is STILL playing for them?” is immediately added to the Semenov All Stars.


I’d like to tell you I know what’s going to happen tomorrow night. It doesn’t work that way. The only thing that matters is that you cheer the same way: full-throated. VCU was successful before Briante Weber and it will be successful after him. We are all just very fortunate that Weber is always with us, in mind, in heart, and in spirit.

“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time. What we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” (Sydney J. Harris)