“What a great college basketball game that was. As much fun as it was for me I bet it was as much fun for you guys.”–Mike Rhoades, VCU Men’s Basketball Head Coach
Last night was what college basketball is all about with the newest chapter of VCU vs. Dayton written. Two talented teams locking up from beginning to end mixed with 11 ties and 12 lead changes. And all the loud noises Ram fans could muster inside a rambunctious Siegel Center that went beyond deafening at times.
There was plenty to take away from the Rams’ 76-71 victory over the Flyers. From Marcus Evans with ice in his veins showcasing that clutch gene. To De’Riante Jenkins putting on arguably his best game performance in his 3 years at VCU. And that’s just the opening two points of discussion.
Even with that Stu Magic soaring well above the rafters, this game showed that Black & Gold team of dreams we’ve all been wanting to invade the hardwood. A team with confidence, purpose, and the morale of wanting to be the best every single night.
From Downtown…IT’S EVANS!!!
Marcus Evans had one of those performances on Wednesday night that will be talked about 10 years from now. The VCU redshirt junior guard who’s been through hell and back put down a stat-line of 17 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and ZERO turnovers versus Dayton.
For the second consecutive game, Evans has managed to play one of the top A-10 schools and not have a turnover. With foul trouble holding him back, #2 not only still played with something to prove, but Evans also had a calm demeanor during crunch time while using his basketball IQ.
Coach Rhoades stated that Evans is one of those players that you would have to kill in order to beat him. Good luck cashing in that bounty.
Turning back the clock to the VCU under the Smart Era, there was certain morale colluded with that blue-collar swagger. That morale was infused with every player from the lead guy all the way to the walk-ons wanting to get out on that floor to help the team.
Competition in practice also fueled the players’ want for more minutes in the next contest. Oh, I only got 8 minutes last game…well, now I want 12. What do I have to do Coach?
That morale has been revamped as VCU continues to mature in the present day. VCU’s bench scored 20 points on Dayton with Mike’l Simms leading with 7 points. One of those buckets was a Kello-like dunk we’ve been hearing about at the VCU practice facility.
From P.J. Byrd to Vince Williams, that Ram Army in the reserve is nearly obsessed with hearing Coach Rhoades call their number. Players are taking their game time seriously and it’s showing with their work rate.
Learning Through Failure
After the Davidson defeat on the road, VCU as whole felt as if they let the team down as individuals. The opportunity of a quality road win was in the Rams’ grasp and they could not finish the job because VCU was in the way of VCU.
Upon tip-off for Dayton, De’Riante Jenkins was in the arena hours ahead of tip-off putting up shots. Marcus Santos-Silva continued working from the free throw line. Others were working on drills with each other before the game clock even started counting down until tip-off.
Failure can lead to success. VCU found success in the paint versus Dayton scoring 30 points. The Rams outrebounded the Flyers 39-32. VCU only committed 9 turnovers compared to Dayton’s 12. You gotta go through some tough stuff in life. VCU is responding in kind by playing at a level that shows that the Rams are back on the A-10 hunt.
“This is a long A-10 season and there’s a lot of really good teams. We got to play them all. Let’s learn from it win or lose, let’s get better, and let’s go get the next one.”–Mike Rhoades, VCU Head Coach
On To The Next One
At 3-1 in the Atlantic 10, VCU is part of the pack that chasing down Saint Louis who remains the conference’s lone wolf. Conference play is still in the beginning stages but it could be worse realistically. Think of the headlines if the Rams are let’s say 1-3 at this point? Now erase that from your memory drive.
Saturday looms on the horizon with UMass making the trip to the Siegel Center. The Minutemen are in shambles with 5 straight losses and a 0-4 A-10 record at the bottom of the table with Fordham. Needless to say, the Rams has the right match-up to continue improving on their craft.
Hopefully, a dead-ball layup frozen upon the rim is not needed against UMass. That was enough Stu Magic for one night; my Black & Gold heart had enough racing wavelengths and still recovering soundly.
Enter With Purpose, Leave Victorious
The good heavily outweighed the bad for VCU against Dayton. With a performance like that, stock in the Rams will be back on the rise. This team looks cohesive once more and playing with something to prove alongside that killer instinct of the hunters.
Being in the moment of the game is something that VCU can control. When that final buzzer goes off, it’s out of their hands. Following that is lessons learned then preparation for the next challenger.
A lesson in this game that I learned about VCU is that when the Rams enter with a purpose, they are already winning before tip-off. When the team matches that purpose with solid basketball and morale of battling as one then VCU can truly play against the best of the best.
And Leave Victorious. Here’s to the hope that the Rams enter with purpose once again this weekend.
Home On The Weekend
VCU Men’s Basketball returns to the Siegel Center on Saturday, January 19th for an A-10 clash with Massachusetts. Tip-off starts at 6:30 PM.