Whether an hour delay on the opening tip-off or just having one of those days in the office, VCU Men’s Basketball did not look like VCU Men’s Basketball for 20 minutes against Duquesne. The reckless youth of Rams for a moment appeared vulnerable until VCU came together and played arguably their best half performance of the season. From questionable defeat crafted into a golden success, VCU may have finally seen the light as to what this team is truly capable of accomplishing.
(GAME RECAP: VCU Re-Surges in 2nd Half To Defeat Duquesne)
Reckless Can Only Travel So Far
After the tip-off was won by Justin Tillman during the opening sequences, there was something odd at first glance. Energy as a whole was on the hardwood however it was Duquesne supplying the majority with every knockdown basket. Watching VCU play as if their kicks were full of wet cement and the soles covered in sticky glue was a tall order.
To the visiting team’s credit, Duquesne came into the Siegel Center with their swag at high levels along with spewing some trash during play. Yet VCU for nearly 10 minutes could not muster a response. It was one of those moments in basketball where even the basketball was mocking VCU with each shot hitting iron but no net.
Momentarily the recklessness of VCU’s high tempo became grounded. Tillman was keeping aggressive on the glass yet could not hit a bucket. Forcing the ball across the court, silly turnovers time after time and lacking a little confidence. When Siegel Center became dead silent while VCU was defending, there was indeed something wrong Tuesday night.
Success In The 2nd
Trailing 28-36 at halftime, Jonathan Williams rallied the troops in the VCU locker room. He stated that the energy needed to be brought out tenfold once the 2nd half started. The senior explained in detail that VCU needed to buy-in on keeping the same energy on both sides of the basketball.
VCU did just that. And a hell of a lot more.
Not only did the Rams outscore Duquesne 50-31 in the 2nd, VCU brought back that old but goodie in HAVOC and all of its defensive glory. The Dukes diminished from 47% to 31% in field goal percentage and 44% to 27% at the three-point spot. Why? HAVOC baby.
For 20 minutes straight this team was still reckless but they played as a unit that wanted to win and knock their opponent out. That aggression was unlocked on defense when Coach Rhoades switched from man-to-man into a zone scheme Duquesne was not prepared to face.
On offense, the Fro broke through and collected his sixth consecutive double-double after not scoring a point in the 1st half. Johnny Williams became more of the NFL prospect running back of a point guard with a silky jay and a good passing game. De’Riante Jenkins and Issac Vann kept feeding each other and started having fun again. That’s a major key: F-U-N.
When this team is having fun, VCU is capable of smoking anyone. Coach Rhoades already has the green light on for them but it’s up to the boys to enjoy what they do. “Love What You Do” is sincere with the Rams and they LOVED playing ball during that 2nd half against Dukes.
Put Some Respeck on Mobley & Simms
Sean Mobley and Mike’l Simms provided VCU with unbelievable hype and play from the bench. Mobley played for 20 minutes and only managed 8 rebounds with 3 points however he created an everlasting impact on the contest.
Now in the best shape of the season according to Coach Rhoades, Mobley brought aggression, energy, and recklessness on the floor. His defending with his length and quick feet had everyone going bonkers. Coach Rhoades shared post-game that when he realized Duquesne was using a shorter lineup on the floor the plan was to get Mobley back into the game.
Mobley simply stated while sitting on the bench that Coach Rhoades had the right five players out on the floor for VCU. Mind…BLOWN! This man can’t be a freshman correct? Sean Mobley has nearly an elite basketball level IQ at a young age and is only on the cusp of what he is truly capable of doing.
Alongside Mobley was the shooter known as Mike’l Simms. The 804 type of guy is starting to drink what all of Ram Nation is sipping on with his sweet stroke from range. Simms is a true shooter that when VCU has the ball, he could be the prime option once the rock heads his way.
Simms is still working and learning at practice according to Coach Rhoades and he believes that Simms will be a monster upon putting in the work. The workload is still being processed and in due time, Simms will hit payday.
As the season continues flipping from chapter to chapter, keep an eye on the impact that these two in particular during game-time. Mobley always wants to leave his mark on the game and doesn’t care where, when and how. Simms already has the shooting arm and is not afraid of throwing up the trey in celebration of #AnotherOne.
Aggression Can Be Rewarding
VCU is a team that uses aggression as fuel for the fire. Aggression can mold into a double-edged sword if not controlled. Hence the first half where VCU was trying to be too aggressive and kept shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and bad decision making.
Buying in can help the Rams. Williams explained that everybody on this team wants to win but sometimes that individual players want to do too much which hurts the team. VCU aims to use Air Johnny as the main aggressor to spark their offense and he is starting to fill in that role.
With the aggression on offense, the Rams must keep that same energy or even level up on defense. HAVOC has been seen in spurts all season long, however, the Dukes was victim to the best display of HAVOC all season long. And that was only for about a half.
Can VCU add more time to the HAVOC meter? With this roster, it is possible to bring HAVOC back to its glory days of 40 minutes filled with deafening defensive pressure. In order for that to happen, this team has to stay connected while working on their craft and not overdo it.
War for the A-10 Crown Wages On
Atlantic 10 is something else in the early stages of the season. There has already been a handful of surprises including Saint Joseph’s homestand, Duquesne going from worse to nearly first and Rhode Island still being the top dog from last season.
As this post is being typed, VCU currently sits at 3-1 in A-10 play and only trail Rhode Island by a game. Which is great being above water instead of drowning near the bottom of the rankings.
Staying afloat will be the challenge for the Rams. There’s the possibility of a conference slip-up here and there yet VCU remain confident in their abilities. Williams put emphasize on what Jenkins said a couple weeks ago…the League STILL runs through VCU.
And for those teams around the Atlantic that believe this is the year to play VCU. This is the time where the Rams look weak and ready to be chopped down to size. The moment of seeing the Black & Gold crumble at the feet of competition had finally arrived.