VCU 84, Richmond 71: Or, We Built This City on Rock and Roll…
If I’m being honest, a true recap of last night’s uber-fun win over that bunch from Henrico County is a fool’s errand. The Rams used a 15-0 run that bridged the half and imposed its will on the Spiders from that point forward.
The 84-71 victory was the “get one on the road” part of the “hold serve at home and get one on the road” mantra as we close out the regular season. VCU is now 12-2 in the A10 and 22-5 overall, and will be watching Dayton host the Bonnies this afternoon.
(Side note: and if I’m being honest again, I’ll be outside somewhere enjoying the weather and following the game on my phone.)
It was also an important win, in that after hosting Saint Louis on Wednesday, the Rams can embark on the teeth-gnashing two-game roadie we circled in October with fresh air in our lungs. It’s like swishing the front end of a one-and-one makes the second free throw breathe easier…trips to Rhody and Dayton can be met with a head nod to the affirmative.
Sometimes I think we say things (and write things) that we believe to be true, and they are likely true, but we lack evidence. It happens all the time in our social media turbocharged world. One of those beliefs is the concept that “Will Wade is a great Xs and Os coach.”
We’ve all seen what happens after Wade spends 15 minutes in the locker room with his coaches and team at the half. Typically this season VCU makes an early second-half run, fueled by defensive adjustments that slow down its opponent, sprinkled with easy looks at the rim. Wade’s adjustments provide a four-minute burst that is critical to winning games.
This week, it was the key facet in a sluggish win over St. Joseph’s, and last night’s spirited rollick over Richmond. The 8-0 hammer-toss to open the second half featured three dunks and a short jumper.
But that’s still a tad tangential. Here’s what I saw a bit later in last night’s game, and we see stuff like this all the time, that is your direct X and O evidence.
Richmond extended its defense, switching to a 1-3-1 zone, with about six minutes to play and VCU holding on to a 10-point lead. It was a good call by Chris Mooney, designed to throw a log onto the tracks of the oncoming VCU offensive train in the game’s most critical two minutes. This was the point VCU was going to put the game away, or Richmond would close the gap and the last four minutes would be a squirmfest.
It was a critical juncture.
Johnny Williams split two defenders with a dribble drive, free-lancing a lob to Mo Alie-Cox. The play was wide open but the pass too high, and the ball caromed away to Richmond’s Julius Johnson for a turnover.
Wade immediately tapped Justin Tillman on the shoulder and sent him to the scorer’s table. Tillman checked in, and the very first offensive trip down the floor VCU ran the actual play in the playbook that calls for that lob. Tillman calmly collected the pass, waited for the defense to clear, and softly laid the ball in the basket for a 69-57 VCU lead.
The point: Wade saw an opening develop and immediately took advantage of it, calling a play at a critical time in the game. Flow didn’t matter. Approach didn’t matter. What was happening didn’t matter. All that mattered was VCU had an opportunity to score a very important basket, and Wade reached into his playbook and immediately struck. The team executed. VCU won.
We don’t need plays at 0.4 seconds to show us sometimes. That, my friends, is Xing and Oing. Coaching.
Have a great weekend.