VCUs rather clinical 71-60 win over George Mason on Saturday was a bottle-chug of Maalox. We saw what we needed to see–spirited effort, an attention to detail on defense, and just enough shooting.
That’s how VCU wins basketball games.
There are details that matter, but only as they pertain to moving forward. Melvin Johnson played with more confidence and freedom than I’d seen in the past three weeks. Treveon Graham was just-selfish-enough. Jonnie Williams took another step forward in becoming a postseason weapon. And VCU just plain won a basketball game.
It can safely be termed restorative.
There was an old-school feel to the win, the kind of feeling that, eight minutes into the game, had you nodding your head. VCU had forced six turnovers, and Johnson rose, with ease and fluidity, and swished a three to give VCU a 12-5 lead.
“This is what I’m used to seeing.”
It was restorative from even before the opening tip.
My man Pav was touched on the shoulder and asked to sing the national anthem. Pav, who embodies what we should be as fans, had an idea.
That Animal is a “we” thing, and we would sing. Pav had PA maven Hunter Elliott ask the sellout crowd–the 66th straight–to join him in singing the anthem. And we did.
Sensing the moment, about halfway through, Pav lowered his mic and most of the 7,600 on hand joined in a very wonderful moment–an a capella National Anthem.
The funny thing about it, too, is that the moment served as a summary for the regular season. You see, within the 7,600 people you will get wonderful voices (Cincinnati), average voices (St. Louis), and frustratingly bad voices (Davidson).
But all-in-all, when you tabulate the voices and put them within the 94×50 confines of a basketball court, you get something special–like VCU basketball. It was a Doug-Brooks-on-a-fast-break of a regular season, anything but regular, and it is not the season.
There is more to do.
Side note: Robby is an outstanding play-by-play guy, but his singing voice is somewhere between Davidson and Richmond.
For me, the most touching part of senior day was not when the trio of players bent down and kissed the court. It was not when Briante Weber hopped aboard Engine 21 and was carried across that floor and to the locker room one last time. It was just before those moments. It lasted but a millisecond but it hit me like a bolt of lightning, bringing the hair on my neck to attention and tears into my eyes.
It was when Jarred Guest, Treveon Graham, and Briante Weber first moved towards midcourt.
The fans, still 6,500 strong, saw them moving away from the hugs and towards halfcourt. There was an immediate awakening among the throng that this would be a moment, and the noise level immediately rose to coincide with the footsteps towards the VCU logo. It wasn’t a depth-charge like one of those explosions after a dunk, nor the frenzy that occurs when the team runs out of the tunnel for the first time.
This was more a crescendo of respect, of love, of memories.
It was a pure, unfabricated sound of thank you.
There will be the day when we talk about this season. However that day won’t come until all the games are played. Similarly, I’m not talking about the three seniors yet. They have games to play. Their VCU careers are not over. Not by a longshot.
For now, we’re taking out a big, black Sharpie and drawing a line:
And we will get into those dynamics this week. For now, it’s time for my oft-quoted anthem: