Darius Theus was asked this morning if he'd watched the tape from VCUs loss to Butler in the 2011 Final Four. His answer carries the unedited and cold eloquence of a leader who knows right from wrong:
When asked about Saturday's matchup with the Bulldogs being an opportunity for revenge, Theus's brevity again hit home:
"The Final Four is over. That was two years ago."
I'm with Theus. Saturday's game pits two ranked teams, battling for a top spot in the Atlantic 10 in late February. VCU has a chance to go 11-3 in conference and 23-6 overall, guaranteeing an important top four seed in the A10 tournament.
What's more--and I'm willing to say it--a victory is a tremendous feather in the cap as it relates to NCAA tournament seeding.
That's right, I said the words. A victory over Butler improves VCUs at large seed line in the NCAA tournament, should the Rams fail to win the conference's automatic berth in Brooklyn in a couple of weeks.
Now stop a minute and let that sink in. This VCU team, the 2012-13 version, is battling for a conference championship and at large seed line. With all due respect to the early 1980s teams, we've never sat on this perch.
It's exciting. We are ranked. They are ranked. We are playing for stakes. In the regular season. At home. On ESPN2. Isn't this exactly what we wanted? This is the result of growth, and that occurs by understanding your past but not sitting on it. Moving forward is our mantra.
Don't shortchange or cheat this team out of what they've earned to get to this point, because it hasn't always been easy. Turning this into a "revenge" game from two years ago is misplaced motivation, contrived even, and it strips a veneer from the appreciation of 28 wonderful basketball games this year.
Don't get me wrong. I realize we are inexorably tied to Butler.
I'm certain we're about to read numerous stories that refer back to that game, trying in vain to tie together a Final Four loss and the two teams meeting again. It's natural. Easy. I'm saying they matter not, and pay them little heed.
Come on. This would be a big victory, and nothing that occurred two years ago is going to impact what happens Saturday. Neither team is even in the same conference as two years ago. Stay in the present and appreciate what we are; not what we were.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but I want it hot. I want The Stu so loud and so stinking hot Brad Stevens has to change his drawers. Twice. Because it's this year that matters. This game. This conference. This NCAA tournament.
Or, as Rob Brandenberg said:
"We're ready to write our own legacy."