“I want to have pride, like my mother has; not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad.”
You could not draw up a better 24 hours for VCU basketball than the time frame from 3pm Friday to 3pm Saturday. (Side note: we’re talking about November. Zip it.)
It began off the court, along Marshall Street, with a fabulous tailgate. Hey Ed–that needs to be more than once-in-a-lifetime. I could not find anyone who said anything even mediocre, much less bad, about the idea. Let’s do it again when my annoying real job is not in the way.
Then the Siegel Center filled, the anthem trumpeted That Animal to life, and the Rams won the tip. Will Wade would graduate his assessment of VCUs play from fair to pretty good during the course of his postgame duties, and a 46-22 halftime margin that didn’t feel that large would attest.
We will let the second half rest on its own laurels. I almost wrote that without laughing.
It ended a 25-point win in a sold out home opener, the 67th straight sellout ushering in the WFWE. Justin Tillman made an impact on the game, netting a double-double. Dougie Brooks was all over the place. When he wasn’t making a steal or blocking a shot, he was disrupting the Prairie View offense with a significant number of deflections.
The defense gave up 50 points.
For goodness sakes, Brooks was blowing kisses to the fans and cracking up The Melvin and Jordan Burgess in the postgame presser.
And the coaching staff was, uh, unhappy. I mean paying taxes while getting a root canal with an itch on your back that your arm can’t quite reach angry.
This I like. A lot.
What’s more, Wade made the team watch today’s Radford/Georgetown game after reviewing film of last night’s win. If the players’ attention was not already grabbed by dissecting a sloppy second half, a double overtime victory by the Highlanders, VCUs Monday opponent, surely did the trick.
And the Radford win–congratulations to our friend Mike Jones–ended the best possible 24 hours of season-opening basketball possible.
Yes, there was a span of about eight minutes that was ugly, but honestly, I personally would not have wanted the weekend to unfold any other way. VCU didn’t look good and won by 25. Just let that soak in.
I’m not concerned about the cold shooting. It happens to every team on every level. It’s kind of weird, isn’t it, how good shooting begets good shooting, and bad shooting begets bad shooting?
Whatever, but here’s my point. VCU will throw up bricks. In abundance. It happens. It always happens, and it isn’t a VCU thing. It happens to everyone. However what we can control is the quality of shots we get.
Remember Villanova last year? Florida State the year before that? 51 points against Wichita State in 2013? Settle down on the shooting.
I don’t know the percentage of field goal attempts that are threes that Will Wade wants for this team. However, here’s what I know: the offense was fair to pretty good (Wade’s words) and the Rams took 33% of their shots from beyond the arc in the first half. During the scrappled second half, VCU had taken more than half their shots from way out there.** That is not good shot selection.
What’s more, in the first half JeQuan Lewis and Jonny Williams had 8 assists and 2 turnovers. At a similar point to the threefest in the second half, the duo had two assists and five turnovers.** If we’ve learned anything since, oh, Domonic Jones, it’s that point guards matter. We’ve had a few good ones.
These things are related. You’re going to miss shots, but you have to run offense and get good shots. In brief, taking good shots probably means you’re going to hit a higher percentage of shots, which becomes critical when shots are doing more clanging than swishing.
**These are notes I made during the game but left at the scorer’s table. Hey it was my first game of the year, too. Get off my back. They may not be 100% accurate but I guarantee their reliability. Please forgive me, Ken Pomeroy.
And now it gets real. Well Prairie View was real, but this is real-real. If you didn’t believe Radford was legit, give the Thompson family a call.
This is who we’ve become, and I like it. You’ll see.
And I wanna have friends that I can trust, that love me for the man I’ve become and not the man that I was.
A few years back, my friend Jerry Beach gave his three stars of the night after every Hofstra game. I’m stealing that from him this year.
***–Justin Tillman: 10 points and 11 rebounds don’t begin to describe his impact on the game. Tillman was everywhere.
**–Jordan Burgess: 9 points and 4 rebounds doesn’t exactly make headlines, but Burgess played an SOB game. He guarded guys bigger than him, and had two drives to the basket we need to see more often.
*–Doug Brooks: I don’t think Brooks was as good on offense as other saw, but everyone saw his impact on the defensive end. If the other guy can’t score, you can afford offensive lapses.