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The Day After: HAVOC is Getting It’s Groove Back

The Day After: HAVOC is Getting It’s Groove Back

A day after a thrilling edition of Saturday Night Hoops inside the Siegel Center, VCU Men’s Basketball was able to get the job done against Middle Tennessee State. From HAVOC and the Animal getting back into a groove along with a total team effort, here are a few takeaways from an RPI win worthy of a NCAA tournament resume.

(GAME RECAP: VCU Breaks MTSU’s Winning Streak)

Value The Rock

Having a week to prepare for war against a Top 50 defense in MTSU, VCU had to figure out a solution to their turnover problems. VCU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Will Wade looked outside their practice facility for motivation in the form of Western Michigan’s Football Head Coach P.J. Fleck.

Fleck led his Broncos from the Great Lakes State with the best turnover margin in the country. Coach Wade noticed that Fleck had numerous signs all over the Western Michigan facility that stated: “The Ball Is The Program.”

That was one of the major emphasis in preparation for the Blue Raiders: Value The Ball.

Averaging 14.8 turnovers per game up to this one, VCU valued the ball with a season-low five turnovers against MTSU. The Rams were able to run simple plays against the challenging zone defense of the Blue Raiders nearly with ease. VCU was able to pound the ball inside to outscore MTSU 40-26 from the painted rectangle.

Ball movement was key while eliminating jump passes inside. The Rams were aggressive offensively but not foolish with unnecessary passes which were good to see. Coach Wade added that possession of the ball is important because it’s not just you holding on to the rock out there on the court.

“When you have the ball you’ve got everybody on the court, all the coaches, everybody on the bench, all the fans. The entire program is in your hands. Value it. Don’t do something stupid it.” –Coach Wade

VCU heard that loud & clear Coach.

Our Animal, Our Rules

Let’s just put this out there: Siegel Center is NOT what it once was. There are a variety of factors out there that could explain why this arena is slowly declining on the decibel meter. Coach Wade wants to reestablish the Stu as the Animal once again starting with this VCU Men’s Basketball team.

This team has a great cast of characters. Time was needed for VCU to take a look at themselves from within. Thankfully the Rams had a week of preparation to get everything established and everyone on the same page.

JeQuan Lewis became the aggressor, Mo Alie-Cox supplied the muscle. Samir Doughty slashed and dashed through MTSU’s zone while Doug Brooks brought the pressure to the Blue Raiders. And the crowd? Well, the crowd was in tune with the game from tip-off to the final buzzer.

The vibes up to this point of the season have been topsy-turvy. Sometimes things kept rolling pro-Ram and then with one drop of the ball anarchy ensued. For one night inside the Stu, it was nice to see and hear everyone literally screaming their lungs out from the sidelines. The Peppas had extra noise thanks to High School Band Night and the Rowdy Rams were more than amped cheering the Rams on.

Mo Alie-Cox knew how important this opportunity was and was more than satisfied sending the Ram faithful home smiling.

“It feels great. We let a couple games slip away. Coach Wade is big on the RPI and little things like that.…we knew Coach really wanted this win and (the) players really wanted this win. On top of that, we were playing at home so it was just a real big win and (sending) our fans home with a happy note.” –Mo Alie-Cox

Our House. Our Rules. This phrase may be a game changer inside the Stu. As VCU steps up their game as a team, Siegel Center becomes a bit louder. Then once again the Animal has evolved and awaits to feast on their next opponent.

Welcome Back HAVOC

HAVOC was up to the challenge that Middle Tennessee State brought inside the Stu. Even with great offensive performances from Giddy Potts and JaCorey Williams, VCU forced 12 turnovers out of the Blue Raiders. The press was back and running to near perfection as MTSU struggled to move the ball. Double teams, traps, and full court pressure aplenty had HAVOC finding it’s groove once again.

Perimeter defending still needs improvement. MTSU went 57% from downtown on 8-of-14 attempts; granted Potts was 5-of-7 from three but this has been a nagging issue all season long. Fortunately, VCU did get the victory; defending the 3 ball is still a work in progress for HAVOC.

Right now at 8-3 overall, HAVOC is in a good spot. Defensive pressure and the full court press as a whole was revived against MTSU for a much-needed confidence booster. Defending the three is something that Coach Wade and company will continue to work on as HAVOC continues going through upgrades.

Opportunity. Sharpie.

Middle Tennessee State entered the game ranked #7 nationally in RPI on a seven-game winning streak. If you needed a prime example of what opportunity is then MTSU was pure gold. Coach Wade did not hesitate to say how big this victory over the Blue Raiders was.

“This will be our best win on Selection Sunday no matter who else we beat. Period.” –Coach Wade

Once again the opportunity was there for VCU and the Rams answered. A total team effort by the players along with confidence and valuing every possession. This is what Ram fans have been wanting to see well before this point of the season. VCU is more than capable of playing this kind of game consistently.

Two games remain on VCU’s out-of-conference schedule at home against LA.-Monroe and Howard inside the Siegel Center. A pair of cupcake games on paper for the Rams before Atlantic 10 play begins in Fairfax against George Mason.

As the transition to conference play looms near, VCU looks forward to working on the details before the clock strikes midnight. The Rams are sitting pretty right now with more wins than losses and capturing a big RPI victory over MTSU for their March Madness resume.

Sometimes you have to go through trials and tribulations to learn the true value of something. VCU knows how valuable that ball is.

The ball is in VCU’s court. Come inside and take it if you can.

Breakaway Takeaways

No Assists JeQuan??: Even with a team-high 20 points and only committing three turnovers, JeQuan Lewis had zero assists for the first time this season. Which was shocking! The last time Lewis did not record an assist was back on January 31st, 2015 where VCU’s 12 game winning streak was snapped by Richmond inside the Siegel Center.

Mo’s Blockade Continues: Three blocks against the Blue Raiders for Mo Alie-Cox makes it five consecutive games where the big guy has recorded three #MoSaysNo or more.

Samir Doughty, PG?: The slasher out of Philly led VCU at the point guard position on a couple of possessions. Lewis was a proud big brother watching Doughty do work with 14 points on the night. Could be the emergence of a combo guard in the making with Samir.

Burgess, #OuttaNowhere: Jordan Burgess usually has a quiet game but not against MTSU. Burgess led VCU with a career-high 11 rebounds in 28 minutes of action. He also had one block which was very Mo-like literally from #OuttaNowhere to deny the Blue Raiders.

Fresh Cut Hamdy: You saw Hamdy’s slick new hairstyle. Lewis thinks he should keep it. Do you agree?

Ram Reminder: Next up on VCU’s three-game home stand at the Siegel Center is LA.-Monroe. That game will be on Thursday, December 22nd at 7 PM and will air on CBS 6.1.

Mark graduated from VCU in 2014 with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology. He started as a fan of the Black & Gold in the stands his freshman year. Mark was known as "Kazie" for his charismatic fandom with the VCU's student organization the Rowdy Rams. While at VCU he gained experience in sports media with WVCW on a sports radio show called Rowdy Radio. Following graduation, Mark continued crafting his social media skills with the Richmond Kickers while also handling VCU coverage. He is a true fan of the Rams and vocally passionate on and off camera. After the final whistle, you can probably find him at local RVA bar or brewery enjoying a drink and conversation.

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