Where is Shaka?
Apparently both Richmond and Davidson fans want to know, both having chanted that very question in what ended up as two home losses for the two at the hands of Will Wade and his VCU Rams.
A simple Google search would answer that question for them anyway.
Shaka Smart is in Austin, Texas, coaching his new Longhorns of the Big 12.
After a mixed bag of results early (9-6 start), Smart has picked up some big wins and appears to have his team bought in to the Shaka Smart way (read: playing with passion). Horns fans seem to like the guy — as they should, he’s a likable dude — and things in Texas seem to be working out just fine for both Smart and fans of Longhorn basketball.
But while B12 opponents and Texas natives may be focused on the rootinest tootinest new head coach west of the Mississippi, it’s highly advised that Atlantic 10 fans start to shift their focus onto their new problem: Will Wade.
This past September NBC’s Terrance Payne wrote an article on programs in decline, focussing mostly on the Florida Gators and VCU Rams due to the loss of big-name coaches in Smart and Billy Donavon, Smart’s previous mentor (I wrote a response).
Payne, along with fans of several A-10 teams, casual college hoops fans and perhaps even some VCU fans, figured the black and gold were headed for a big dip due to the big change and the loss of senior graduates Treveon Graham and Briante Weber, not to mention the transfer of Terry Larrier (a top-50 high school recruit who played one year with the Rams) and the loss of Smart’s entire 2016 recruiting class. Perhaps a fair assumption at a glance but one that upon any bit of digging might have been a bit more “knee-jerk” and less researched.
That’s because Wade, a proven coach with a track record of elevating programs, alongside an improved cast of supporting players and two impact transfers, has not only kept VCU from falling off, but so far has the Rams playing some of their best basketball in a good while.
So let’s change the question: Where is Will Wade?
Will Wade is the head coach of the Atlantic 10’s current No.1 team, coaching VCU up to an 8-0 conference start for the first time since Anthony Grant did the same in CAA play.
Will Wade is at VCU, coaching a team that despite the loss of all-world defender, Briante Weber, ranks fourth nationally in turnover percentage defense (No.2 in steals percentage), forcing a turnover every 24.2% of opposing teams’ possessions. That number is better than the Rams 2014-15 mark, a season that saw Weber on the floor 20 games before going down to injury.
Will Wade is on Broad St., teaching a group to play without the programs No.2 all-time leading scorer, Treveon Graham. Eight games into conference play VCU has the No.1 most efficient Atlantic 10 offense through conference play and is averaging about six more points than last season’s team with Graham as their leading scorer.
Will Wade is out looking for the next Melvin Johnson and JeQuan Lewis, two Wade guys, guys who are having career years, combining for just about 30 points and seven assists per game.
Wade is everywhere but apparently where some folks need to him to be, which in the front of the minds of opposing teams fans.