Photo Credit: VCU Athletics
“We are going to wreak HAVOC on our opponent’s psyche and their plan of attack.”
This was the statement quoted by former VCU head basketball coach Shaka Smart when he arrived at VCU. Shaka Smart’s tenure at VCU started when I was a senior in high school. This year marked the beginning of an era for VCU men’s basketball and the VCU community as a whole.
In the 2009-2010 season, Shaka Smart and team fell short to ODU in the CAA Championship. However, Shaka Smart led the Rams to the CBI Championship as they beat the St. Louis Billikens at St. Louis 71-65.
During the 2010-2011 season I began my career as a VCU student. This was the year the entire VCU community came together as a whole. Unfortunately, we once again fell to ODU in the CAA Championship game 70-65. During the Selection Sunday Show, we were picked as one of the first four teams in the NCAA Tournament. This marked the beginning of “the run”. VCU defeated USC 59-46 to move to the round of 64. In the round of 64, VCU defeated Georgetown 74-56 to advance to the round of 32. In the round of 32, VCU defeated Purdue 94-76 and progresses to their first ever Sweet 16. In the Sweet 16 VCU wins a heart-pounder, and in my opinion the most thrilling game I have ever seen VCU play in, against Florida State 72-71 in OT to move to their first ever Elite 8. In the Elite 8 VCU defeated #1 seeded Kansas 71-61 to move to their first ever Final Four. The Rams unfortunately fell to Butler 70-62 in their final game. This year was the year VCU made it onto the map. The question of “V-C-Who?” was finally answered.
During the 2011-2012 season VCU won the CAA Championship against Drexel and made their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tourney. VCU received another NCAA Tourney win to add to their record as they defeated the Shockers of Wichita State 62-59. They fell to Indiana in the round of 32 in the final seconds 63-61.
During the 2012-2013 season VCU made the big move and switched from the CAA to the Atlantic 10 conference. In this season, VCU was the runner up to the St. Louis Billikens in a hard fought battle 62-56. The Rams moved on to their third NCAA tourney and demolished the Akron Zips in the round of 64, 88-42. They lost to the National Championship runner-up Michigan in the round of 32, 78-53.
During the 2013-2014 season my VCU student career came to a close. The Rams were A-10 championship runners-up once again as they fell in the last seconds to St. Joe’s 65-61. Even though VCU were unable to win their conference tournament, they made their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tourney. The Rams were defeated in a heart-breaker in the round of 64 to Stephen F. Austin with a final score of 77-75 in OT.
The 2014-2015 season was my first year as an alumnus. VCU had to go through some major adversity including injuries, a not so good February, and fans going against each other. We put all of that behind us when we arrived at the A-10 Tournament. During this A-10 Tourney, VCU managed to defeat each team that handed them a loss during their three game losing streak in February (Richmond, Dayton, and Davidson respectively). The Rams defeated Dayton in the A-10 Championship game 71-65 giving VCU their first A-10 Championship trophy. They advanced to their fifth consecutive NCAA Tourney. The Rams unfortunately fell to Ohio State in OT 75-72.
I know I didn’t mention Shaka Smart much in this article, but I will now. Through the past six years, VCU received so much publicity and transformed into a national discussion. Shaka Smart was with us through everything. He is the kind of leader who does so through example and look where we ended up. If we didn’t have the Final Four run and all of that publicity, where would VCU be? Would we be able to boast 66 consecutive home sellouts? Would the Peppas be a national icon? Would we have the level of recruits that we currently have? Most importantly, would VCU fans have as much spirit as they ALL currently do? These are the questions that we should be asking ourselves.
Finally, here is the rundown:
Jeff Capel: Leads VCU to the NCAA Tourney
Anthony Grant: Leads VCU to a NCAA Tourney first round win
Shaka Smart: Leads VCU to the Final Four
Next Coach: Can’t wait for the seasons to come
Thank you Shaka Smart for everything you have done for VCU and the Richmond community. You will be missed. I can’t wait to play the Longhorns in a home and home series to see who the true ruler of HAVOC is and to see where HAVOC truly lives.