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Old School…

It’s no secret I relish our #CAAHoops days. So many fond memories, so much growth, and so much enthusiasm.

The battles on the court were ferocious but respectful. We enjoyed going to war with Bruiser Flint, and matching wits with Bill Coen and Tony Shaver. Tom Pecora always brought talented Hofstra teams to town, and he loved the competition.

It made for phenomenal banter off the court as well–social media came of age during this time. This made it easy for fan bases to reach each other in abundance.

One of the fun arguments: VCU fans would never travel in droves if the CAA tournament were not held in Richmond. This was a popular refrain from our good friends down interstate 64, those Monarchs who now ironically spend half their lives halfway across the country.

History, and one look around Barclay’s Center in early March provides evidence, has proven this not to be the case. We see it, and we know it. They see it, and they know it.

But I cannot pass on one last barb.

Last weekend Rams fans traveled six hours to Charlotte–hundreds of them–to go see those VCU CAA players play basketball in The Tournament…when the guys are not actually VCU players anymore!

Look, I know Charlotte is a little easier to find than the wonderlands of Ruston, LA or Denton, TX, but it’s a random July weekend. It’s been five seasons since the core of the 2011 team wore black-and-gold, and almost 10 years for BA Walker, Mike Anderson, and Jesse Pellot-Rosa.

But if you flipped on your computer to watch last weekend’s TBT games you saw VCU everywhere. The play-by-play guy kept remarking on it. You heard Brandon Rozzell and Joey Rodriguez talk about how special the fan base is and how much the team appreciated the continued support. It’s a dynamic that stretches far past however many current consecutive sellouts in That Animal, and far past a player’s eligibility.

One of Shaka Smart’s most poignant observations, and it’s been proven again with The Tournament: he’s never been around a program where the bond between players and fan base was so strong.

Indeed.

(Side note: Loved seeing Bobby Anthony Walker, and his new haircut.)

***

I saw that Korey Billbury recently signed a contract to play professionally in Italy, with a club called U.S. Basket Recanati.

You may be tired of it, but I can’t get enough of the KB Story. It is now at its zenith, so here we go, one last time.

About 14 months ago, Billbury faced an uncertain future. He was pursuing a new landing spot under the NCAAs graduate transfer rule. There were feelers from Washington to Wichita to Will Wade.

Billbury’s goals: win games. Go to the NCAA tournament. Get enough exposure to sign a professional contract.

VCU won 25 games last year. Check. The Rams went to the NCAA tournament, winning a game. Incredibly, VCU played in Oklahoma, one hour from where Billbury grew up. Massive check. And Billbury averaged 11 points and five rebounds, playing more than 20 games on national TV. Check.

Good luck, KB. It was one season but we will remember it fondly.

***

We’re hearing familiar words from unfamiliar people. Treveon Graham and Briante Weber are having good summers.

Graham is living up to his #DirectDeposit billing. He averaged more than 17 points per game in the Orlando summer league, earning a spot on the all league team.

It’s the same Freight Train. He isn’t killing people with posterizing dunks, or going all Troy Daniels. Graham keeps scoring points in an efficient manner–you know, the most important statistic in keeping score.

A writer from Miami recently penned this about Weber: “there is a nonstop urgency to attack, trying to stop a play before it ever begins,” and “there is a lot to like about Weber’s game, but that defensive demeanor is the biggest reason he’s here…”

Says Miami summer coach Juwan Howard: “At times he’s overly aggressive, but that’s his nature. I trust him.”

Weber averaged about 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in his summer games. and my favorite of alltime recently hit twitter, with William & Mary friends again calling Weber the turbocharged octopus.