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The Day After: Anxiety, Entitlement and Noise

The Day After: Anxiety, Entitlement and Noise

So…where is VCU Men’s Basketball? Apparently on the brink of oblivion after the Rams dropped the ball on their home floor of the Siegel Center against Richmond. The Spiders convincingly ended their six-game losing skid in the Capital City Classic while making VCU look elementary with simplicity. After two consecutive defeats against Atlantic 10 competition that has some fans looking for a brown paper bag, is the 2017-18 season of VCU Hoops now over?

Anxiety

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” –Walt Disney

On a snowy Wednesday evening at the Siegel Center, simply put Richmond out-played VCU. Coach Mooney and the Spiders came up with a near-flawless blueprint and executed the orders for their first complete game of the season according to Mooney. This season has been tough for the neighbors out of Henrico but on this night Richmond felt as if they just won their Super Bowl in a sense.

De’Monte Buckingham, Jacob Gilyard, Grant Golden and Nick Sherod had the game performances of their lives as the visitors. VCU on the other side of the court looked flat and taken over by anxiety and the pressures to perform once again. When Justin Tillman’s usual shot selection was not connecting, panic ensued throughout the team.

Old habits of ball watching and stone feet reappeared with the squad in the throwback golden uniforms that looked too sweet. VCU’s nemesis of living and dying by the three resulted in the Rams dying at that spot with a 17% on 4-of-23 attempts. Fans could not believe what they were witnessing: a VCU squad with pride but no action.

After getting washed with an offensive barrage at Dayton, this result was not what the Rams were working towards against the Spiders. UR finally figured out their team formula at the perfect time while their noisy neighbors are still working on trying to find their identity.

Entitlement

“Entitlement is just the grossest kind of human behavior.” –Jessica Parker Kennedy

en·ti·tle·ment (noun): the fact of having a right to something.

Sometimes when things are going well for a long period of time, the mindset adapts to new circumstances. Seven consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, conference championships and multiple 20+ winning seasons. When you are used to winning, the standard is just that…to win.

No matter the opposition, venue, rules or even the game. If you are V-C-U, winning is the only option. That golden fantasy just took a smack-down from this little thing civilization likes to call reality.

Coach Rhoades stated best during a challenging first season as VCU Head Coach that just because VCU is on your jersey that doesn’t mean that you are entitled to win anything. This young brotherhood has learned that lesson the hard way during this tough terrain portion of the season.

Fans of the Rams also must learn this lesson in a certain aspect. Social media was lit during the Black & Gold meltdown and well after with comments varying from this team is not VCU Basketball, these kids are a joke, no pride, lazy and not worthy of my time and money.

Really?

Maybe this is Ram side of me typing but how dare you. Frustration aplenty is justified when watching VCU caught ball watching on defense and not flying or taking too many three-pointers when already deep in a deficit. However, some fans truly need to step away from the keyboard and the office known as “Internet Coach”.

NOBODY is entitled to ANYTHING; that most certainly includes VCU Men’s Basketball.

Noise. Lot’s Of It.

Emotions can be a hell of a time dealing with in dark circumstances. Losing by 27 at Dayton then 15 to Richmond is not good for the heart especially back to back. But I got some breaking news, there are TWELVE Atlantic 10 games remaining in the season.

Currently, VCU sits at 3-3 and at war for the fourth place spot in a draw with Massachusetts, George Mason, Saint Joseph’s, Dayton and Richmond. Looking upward, Duquesne is only one game ahead in 3rd at 4-2 and Davidson is a game and a half at 4-1 for second place. Simply put, the Rams could literally be back in the Top 4 after one game if VCU can turn things around.

Losing sucks. Defeat at home to your cross-town rival is worse. Coming up short inside a lack-luster Siegel Center that was near silent and non-vibrant on the energy scale was a sight I never thought I would see or hear. There’s no finger pointing to the Peppas, Rowdy Rams, students, alumni, season ticket holders or single game buyers…we as a group should be ashamed of what was brought in the stands Wednesday night. Snow Day or Not.

At this point of the season, there is no turning back. You either stay on the side of the road or stay on this VCU bandwagon until the wheels completely come off the hinges. This squad needs your support on the mental aspect; they need Siegel Center to become the Animal from the jump because it’s obvious that the Rams feed off the Rams.

So all that energy that’s lays within, let it out. Siegel Center has won basketball games as a venue itself but there is a key component to that: YOU.

Working Towards Victory

VCU sits 11-8 and 3-3 in A-10 Play thus far. Opportunities for big wins have not prospered for the Rams this season yet there are still games to be played. Looking towards the future, VCU will more than likely need to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Washington D.C. to get a shot at dancing in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth consecutive time.

(Quick Gander at the Calendar) Oh, wait…this is January.

Which means there are about 2 months and some change for some good solid work from VCU in order to prepare for a date in March. This team is capable of winning games against anybody in the Atlantic 10 but not at the present moment after two consecutive falls to the face.

To take something from Coach Wade, VCU and Coach Rhoades needs to get back to the basics. Figuring out a way for the Rams to keep that same intensity on both sides of the ball is a challenge for a group that’s still transitioning into the college game of basketball. Learning how to react when what you are used to playing is not working and adapting to being uncomfortable.

Mike’l Simms and Jonathan Williams were shellshocked after the game and arguably the whole team. What was brought up by both Simms and Williams is that VCU was playing the game safe; which is NOT how the Rams operate. The Black & Gold plays with a chip on their shoulder and wins anyway regardless of adversity and the outside noise.

That adaptation is still a work in progress and that leads to the frustration of people wanting VCU to win NOW and not later. Once again, VCU is not entitled to win just because VCU is on their jersey. VCU has to put in the work, trust one another and execute that results in earning the W.

Unchain The Mind, Prepare Accordingly

Winning can heal any wound in the game of basketball. VCU has a chance to taste victory once again in their next battle versus George Washington at the Stu. Looking into the eyes of the players and hearing what the basketball staff is spewing, VCU appears to be working on getting their mojo back.

Can the Rams reestablish their game is the main question? If the Rams are capable to unchain their minds about what happened in the past and focus on the present moment then anything is possible upon the tip-off. The Colonials are no push-over and will be looking to claim victory over a freshly wounded VCU.

Looking from the outside in, VCU needs to get everyone involved. The Rams can’t just rely on Tillman and Williams playing aggressively. On defense, there has been a lack of communication and movement in both man to man and zone defense.  All fixable circumstances with a little bit of elbow grease and grit.

There’s plenty of concerns, questions and thoughts spewing around. Let the boys work on getting better while we as fans work on getting better supporting them.

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” –Malcom X

 

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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