Tuesday double-dip: Rams dominate Valencia plus Shaka Smart on VCU going from the hunter to the hunted

VCU tipped up their second contest against a Spanish pro team this week, this time dominating Valencia 85-50 in a game that saw 40 turnovers from the Rams' opponent.

Ahmed Hamdy put together a second consecutive strong performance for the amateurs from the States, posting a 15-point, 12-rebound double double in the win. It was his second double-double in as many games.

Hamdy was one of four Rams to post double-digit scoring, joined by Jonathan Williams and freshmen Marquell Fraser and De'Riante Jenkins, all with 10 points, Jenkins having posted double digits in his second straight game.

The defensive effort was a big-time improvement according to Rams head coach Will Wade, who was less than pleased with the 68 points allowed in VCU's opening-trip win against a lesser opponent in Casvi.

The black and gold have forced a combined 75 turnovers in their two games this summer, doing so without the services of starting point guard and one of the Rams' best steal artists last season, JeQuan Lewis.

"We were much better today," Wade commented after the game. "Our defense was outstanding. We held them to 50 points, we absolutely annihilated them on the glass, which was two areas we really talked about since that last game."
Former Rams head coach Shaka Smart <a href="https://soundcloud.com/compass-media/college-hoops-today-with-jon-rothstein-texas-shaka-smartbig-12-breakdown">chatted</a> with CBS' Jon Rothstein on Rothstein's College Hoops Today podcast and I thought had some interesting things to say about the end of his tenure at VCU.

When asked if there was anything that Smart missed about being at a place that's more synonymous with being an underdog, Smart had an answer that I thought might interest some VCU fans.

"The thing a lot of people don't understand is that was going away at VCU," Smart answered. "That was going away really quickly."

"One of the things that was interesting is, obviously going into any game, whatever you can use to motivate your team and the guys that are apart of what you are doing, you utilize. But as things changed overtime there we become more of the hunted. You still try to create that hunter mentality but it became a little more difficult just from the standpoint of some of the guys we were recruiting and the way that our program was starting to be viewed even from the outside."

Smart's Rams went from shocking the world in 2011 to being on the wrong end of two first round upsets at the end of his career at VCU.

In 2014 the Rams led 12th-seeded Stephen F. Austin late before a heart-breaking 4-point play took the game to overtime where the Lumberjacks would take VCU from former Cinderella to fallen Goliath. The following season VCU would enter the NCAA tournament as the No.7 seed before falling to 10th-seeded Ohio State in overtime.

Smart and VCU's Final 4 run massively upgraded the Rams' recruiting profile as well. The black and gold went to the 2011 tournament with just one former top-100 recruit, that being in the form of Wake Forest transfer, Jamie Skeen.

The 2012 class however would add two top-100s with the additions of Melvin Johnson and Jordan Burgess, then Smart would add three more for his final season with the recruitment of Justin Tillman, Mike Gilmore and Terry Larrier -- Larrier being the Rams highest rated recruit and their only top-50 recruit since 1990s McDonald's All-American, Kendrick Warren -- giving VCU five top-100 players for Smart's final season on Broad St., not to mention Treveon Graham or Briante Weber, two under-recruited players who now have NBA contracts.
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Licensed Virginia Realtor and part-time basketball writer. Co-founder of VCURamNation.com and A10Talk.com.
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Mat Shelton-Eide
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