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The Day After: Bittersweet Victory. Take It, Move On.

The Day After: Bittersweet Victory. Take It, Move On.

A day after VCU Men’s Basketball collected their 7th consecutive Atlantic 10 win, the victory was disappointing and bittersweet. Sure, at the end of the regulation the Rams collected a 91-81 win over an injury prone Saint Joseph’s; when you look at what went down on Tuesday night, as Coach Wade said, this is a “fool’s gold” type of victory.

(GAME RECAP: Love on Love Day from JLew & VCU, Rams Hold Off SJU)

The Good About Love Day

First and foremost, VCU WON THE GAME. This post would have been a much different story if the result went the way of Saint Joseph’s. Winning does heal wounds along with the power of positivity; there were some positives to take out of the game.

JeQuan Lewis showed Ram fans some love on Valentine’s Day with an offensive explosion behind the arc. Nine treys for the senior guard as Lewis set a new career high of 34 points along with 5 assists and only 2 turnovers. The green light was on from downtown for #1 as Lewis just kept hitting and hitting and hitting.

While JeQuan was doing work from three, Samir Doughty put his time and was rewarded with a double-double. In fact, Doughty was 2 rebounds away from getting a triple-double as he finished with 10 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds. Doughty has gotten into a groove of sorts for this VCU offense however against SJU he was more of a passer instead of a driver; which is good to see him valuing the ball while making some crisp passes.

Speaking of crisp, the Krispy Fro was back at it again. Justin Tillman put in his fourth consecutive double-double performance of 14 points and 13 rebounds versus Saint Joe’s. Tillman can not be stopped at this point of the season with teams trying to come up with some formula to silence the Fro.

From Doug Brooks putting on an experience on offense and causing headaches on defense alongside Jonathan Williams, there was some good on display by VCU Men’s Basketball against the Hawks. Most importantly, VCU improved to 11-2 in the Atlantic 10.

A Defensive Annihilation

“We didn’t want to guard tonight and if we give that effort the rest of the year, it’s going to be a long end to this season. Extremely, extremely disappointing on almost all fronts…(VCU) was very, very lucky tonight.” –VCU Head Coach Will Wade

Coach Wade is in the right here. HAVOC, in general, was not as effective as it should have been against the Hawks. Especially when you factor in that Saint Joseph’s was without 4 key players due to injury yet the Hawks managed to score 81 points against the Rams.

Against injury and insurmountable odds, Saint Joe’s outplayed VCU Tuesday night inside the Siegel Center. SJU outscored VCU 34-18 from inside the paint and only lost the rebound battle by 1 with 33 rebounds to VCU’s 34. From the field, the Hawks tethered around 50% on the night as Charlie Brown and Chris Clover gave HAVOC fits.

SJU Head Coach Phil Martelli came up with a damn near brilliant scheme and VCU took it hook, line and sinker. The Hawks played zone and filled up the Paint with as many Hawks as they could which gave the Rams all sorts of problems. Hence why the Black & Gold jacked up 27 three pointers; this was the second most VCU has attempted since the Louisiana-Monroe game back on December 22nd with 31 attempts.

Granted the VCU 3 Ball was in falling thanks to JeQuan’s nine and 13 in total for the team overall. Inside that painted rectangle is where truly VCU is the most the dangerous and that part of the game was nearly nonexistent. Then when the Rams had to play defense, the Hawks moved as if they were soaring with jetpacks pass HAVOC with supreme ease.

Four Hawks on Saint Joseph’s scored in double-figures. As an extra kink in the armor, all four Hawks scored over their Points Per Game Average versus VCU.

Player PPG Points vs. VCU
#2 Charlie Brown 12.5 19
#15 Chris Clover 6.0 21
#20 Brendan Casper 4.4 13
#25 James Demery 13.2 17

As you can imagine, Coach Wade had some criticism about his team’s performance. Wade did acknowledge Saint Joseph’s and their tremendous effort playing without a majority of their offense. VCU kept getting pressured on a drive after drive inside by SJU and Coach Wade thought that was unacceptable at this point of the season.

Credit was given to Doug Brooks and Jonathan Williams for “bailing out” VCU on defense. Williams had the tough task of slowing down Charlie Brown while Brooks did most that he could even after fouling out. Wade also added that Brooks only fouled out due to some of his teammates missing defensive assignments which led to Brooks hustling over to try and stop SJU’s opportunity.

Reality struck when Coach Wade said this as VCU looks ahead to the Friday Night Showdown at the Robins Center versus Richmond: “If we play like this on Friday we’ll get annihilated.”

Ouch. Truth Hurts.

Back To The Lab. Double-Time.

This game served VCU the purpose of a wake-up call. Sometimes when you win for so long, you get accustomed to that feeling. Along with that from a basketball standpoint, winning can hurt you as players may tend to slack off a tad which is what the Rams did in this case.

Overlooking the Hawks perhaps? With the big game on Friday versus Richmond just days away, VCU could have just avoided a trap in the making.

After this game concluded, VCU now has another motivation in practice this morning and the rest to come before Friday: Prove Them Wrong. The bread and butter of VCU’s paint presence looked soft and beatable. VCU reverted back to live & die by the 3 tactics. VCU isn’t taking the game seriously anymore.

These thoughts in the back of your mind can be erased Friday night. If VCU works on the things that had us scratching our heads vs. Saint Joseph’s and executes a solid performance at the Robins Center then all will be good in Ram Nation.

Cut down 3 Ball attempts while feeding the paint no matter the defense trying to contain the Rams. Value the basketball with consistent simple passing instead of that highlight reel pass with a low percentage of finding the target. Don’t Take The Bait.

No need for a panic button just yet for fans of the Rams. There also is no reason to celebrate this win but for so long. It’s over and in the record books.

Now let’s move on to Richmond.

Capital City Classic: The Sequel

Besides bragging rights, there is a little more on the line in this chapter of VCU vs. Richmond. VCU looks to silence the critics while getting one more victory in hopes of securing a Top 4 seed in the A-10 tournament. Also getting a season sweep over their crosstown rival is a sweet bonus.

For Richmond, it’s all about redemption in every sense of the word. The Spiders fell to 9-4 in A-10 play after losing 93-70 to George Mason up in Fairfax. The Patriots got the best of Richmond as the Spiders have limited time to recover with their rowdy Ram neighbors making way to the Robins Center.

VCU sits on the throne with Dayton at 11-2 so there is a tad bit of breathing room for the Rams. Grabbing the Atlantic 10 regular season championship is still within eye distance for VCU with 5 games remaining.

This game may not be a first place clincher but it does not diminish the importance of VCU v. Richmond. De’Monte Buckingham, T.J. Cline, and ShawnDre’ Jones aim to lead the Spiders inside and punch VCU in the mouth; especially if that defense against SJU remains as VCU steps to the court.

Victory went to the Rams over Richmond 81-74 in Round 1 of the Capital City Classic. Round 2 should have a handful of cardiac moments as VCU and Richmond tangle up for another classic rivalry game. All the pun intended.

Bittersweet W > Bittersweet L

Simply put, this was a bittersweet victory for VCU over Saint Joseph’s. At first glance, the win looked lovely with JeQuan Lewis going berserk from three-point land while racking up a new career high score. Additionally, Doughty and Tillman with double-double performances makes the win taste that much sweeter.

As the sweetness settles in, suddenly the win turns sour with the lackadaisical defending, errors aplenty and a contest that should have been a no contest that turned into a mild shortness of breath type of game. Alas, VCU at the end of it all was able to hold off the heart attack long enough to survive and move on to the next one.

Next up is Richmond for some Friday Night college hoops on ESPN 2. VCU will need to dial it in and play a complete game against the Spiders.

Onward to a possible sweep of the Spiders. Now, how sweet would that be?

Breakaway Takeaways

The Experience Is Getting Good Reviews: VCU Head Coach Will Wade is Doug Brooks harshest and most important critique. So far Coach Wade has been rather impressed at Brooks minutes since starting him the past 7 contests. There’s still work to be done to make it a complete Experience from Dougie B.

-Out the Boot, On the Court?: De’Riante Jenkins was spotted last night without his medical boot on. So that means he is ready to play soon? Not so fast. Jenkins is still wearing the boot from time to time for precautionary purposes. Although, Jenkins may return to the court if all goes well within in the next few weeks.

10! Ten! Diez!: JeQuan Lewis was one three short from double-figures but the senior guard did crash the 10th spot on VCU’s single-season list for three-pointers. This season so far Lewis has scored 73 daggers from downtown.

We’ve Seen This Before: VCU’s current winning streak of 7 straight wins is a double take. VCU was able to win 8 straight from early December to mid-January until that A-10 road loss at Davidson. Ram fans obviously are hoping that the sequel can top the original.

Black & Gold RPI: VCU’s RPI has entered into the Top 30 sitting at #27. Currently, it’s just above Dayton at #28 as the highest RPI ranked team in the Atlantic 10. Atlantic 10 as a whole has 5 teams in the Top 100.

Ram Reminder: VCU vs. Richmond. Round 2 goes down at the Robins Center on Friday, February 17th at 9 PM on ESPN 2.

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