** Disclaimer: The games included in these articles are solely my opinion. If yours differs, I’d encourage you to comment below, or join the discussion on our forums. **
November of 2017 marked the ten-year anniversary of covering men’s hoops here at VCURamNation.com. There have been heartbreaks and heart attacks. Pleasant and unpleasant, surprises, win streaks, sellout streaks, NCAA tournament streaks, and four different head coaches.
It’s a lot to process.
But, at the end of the day there is no team I’d rather be working this hard for than the VCU Rams. All four founding Ram Nation members are alums, we all went to games while we were students, and we’ve covered the vast majority since.
Over the coming weeks I’m going to highlight one game from the last ten seasons—it may not be the biggest game of the year, or even the most important game of the year, and it very well may be different from your favorite game of the year. But each holds a certain magic for me.
November is only seven months away!
#10 – VCU vs Dayton
March 8, 2018, A10 Tournament (2nd Round)
Yeah, that’s right, I started with a game from this year, what of it?!
Let’s call a spade a spade, this year was tough. And, that’s why this game was so important to me!
Dayton was a tough draw for our first game in DC. Anthony Grant was in his inaugural year at the helm, but Dayton is a good program and Grant is a good coach. Get through them, and we get a shot at Rhode Island in the quarterfinals.
I like the long shot odds—being the underdog suits us—and we were definitely long shots.
But, A10 Tournament time is one of my favorite times of the year. A different city, new food, a schedule full of hoops, and hanging out with Rams fans.
We had just finished up the regular season winning only three of our final nine games—not ideal. Tournament time is a fresh start though, and it’s one-and-done from there.
I was so proud of the way Justin Tillman fought during this Dayton game.
All five of our starters finished in double digits. Tillman led the way with 15 points and 10 rebounds. It was his 17th double-double of the season.
I was happy that our seniors got to win in DC. I was happy that the bevy of new faces on the team got to feel the excitement of winning a game in the A10 Tournament—something I hope translates into hunger for next season.
Like I said, this year was tough. But, in my opinion, it wasn’t for lack of talent or coaching, and it certainly wasn’t for lack of heart. I’m of the mindset that these years just happen sometimes. Very few teams in the country get to end their year on a win.
Now, do I wish we had done better? Made it to the finals in DC? Made the NCAA Tournament? Sure, of course—I wanted all those things. I always want us to be successful and striving to make ourselves better. But, that isn’t how it shook out this year, and I’m at peace with that. I knew this was gonna be the year we got humbled a bit. The A10 is no slouch. There are other teams getting better every year just like we’re trying to get better. And I’m proud that no matter what, our coaches never gave up on our guys, our guys never gave up on our coaches, and our fans never gave up on either of them.
Listen, VCU has had unbelievable success over the last 12 years, we’ve overcome just about anything the world has thrown at us: injuries, coaching changes, athletes transferring elsewhere, and did I mention… COACHING CHANGES!
I’m withholding from making this a post summarizing the year though. We’ve all got our opinions, and they’ve mostly all been talked about at this point.
But, listen, all that is behind us and it’s time to start moving forward!!
(…I mean, after we do this walk down memory lane together).
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