VCU Men’s Basketball was on the wrong end of an unappetizing result against Liberty in their first exhibition game of the year. While most fans cringed in despair at what they witnessed Wednesday night, VCU just needs to execute a factory reset and keep on working.
Dialing In To Basketball
One good feature on cell phones in the present day is the Factory Reset option. Sometimes just restarting the cellular device won’t fix the problem fully. Hence the option to completely wipe out everything and start off from scratch.
The Rams after getting torched by the Flames are in that progress currently. Looking back at the exhibition, VCU matched the hype however the performance was subpar in multiple areas. Ezra Talbert did play the role of event spoiler with 23 points and 5-of-5 from three in his individual performance.
On the opposite side, VCU embraced the struggle and the struggle won. Numerous scenarios on defense showed a Ram losing his mark or couldn’t get around a Liberty screen. Three-point defending was non-impactful with Liberty shooting 50% from the spot (11-of-22). VCU was on the losing side of every statistical category except for blocks (VCU:2, LU: 1).
So after 40 minutes of what appeared to be a bad day in the office for the home team, Coach Mike Rhoades would appear to be enraged and doubtful about the season before it officially begins? Actually quite the opposite.
“This was good for us. This is exactly what we needed. We needed a game like this.” –Coach Rhoades
As Coach Rhoades further explained after the buzzer, VCU received a much-needed wake-up call. The Rams may have a handful of new players and coaches prepping for the 2017-18 season but that’s not an excuse. We’re still in pre-season status and the Black & Gold is still a work in progress on the court.
Focus at the moment is directed to defending the 3 Ball. Last season this was an issue very early under Coach Wade and that process took time and work towards improvement. The end result wasn’t national level defending but there was pressure put on by HAVOC towards opposing three-pointer attempts.
Now under Coach Rhoades, VCU once again go back to the drawing board to see what they came up with. There were some instances when Liberty took a chance from downtown that was contested before launch. Other times the Flames just had a man wide open as VCU felt dazed while keeping eyes on the ball.
Outside of the defending the three, the Rams held their own under the glass. Liberty did outrebound VCU 33-30 yet the Rams remained hungry for the basketball off the rim. Issac Vann after having an ankle sprain led VCU with 6 total rebounds.
Ease Away From Panic
Losing sucks. An exhibition defeat is not flattering. Losing an exhibition on your home floor may cause feelings of doubt, despair and insane amounts of grief. There’s just one thing: IT WAS AN EX-HI-BIT-ION!
VCU remains 0-0 and .000 on their result percentage. Coach Rhoades and the squad took away a lot of notes and are testing what they learned from Thursday evening. Reality can pack a haymaker and Coach Rhoades doesn’t believe that VCU is down for the count.
“We’re at VCU. We hate the result; This is not the result we all want. Great. I hope it bothers our guys, it bothers me. But now where are we going to go from here? How much better are we going to get? How committed we are to improving and fixing the things we do?” –Coach Rhoades
Multiple Rams were hype coming into the Siegel Center. After the result, most of them left looking defeated however they learned a lot about themselves as a team. Now it’s a new day and like Coach Rhoades stated: Are you going to make excuses or stay committed?
The Answer Awaits
There were highlights during VCU vs. Liberty that should have Ram fans excited. Justin Tillman after his foot sprain injury is still working on getting his basketball groove yet he can still launch a thunderous block at will.
Malik Crowfield emerged as an early 3 Ball specialist and looks to make a big splash out of the Bayou. De’Riante Jenkins used all of his tools to score buckets, Jonathan Williams is getting his passing game to higher levels. Not to mention the #Vannimal is working off a sprain and collected 13 points from the bench.
This VCU team can score without question. At the moment, the questions are towards HAVOC and can it improve in time before Virginia Union comes to the Stu. Can this team of young men put in a 40-minute performance that will leave fans in nostalgia instead of turmoil?
Chemistry and physical sciences aside, the Rams are their own experiment. What works well with this? Can this lineup produce baskets? How to defend the glass…put Simms here…have Lane go there…
As Coach Rhoades continues working with what he has, VCU will continue to build. Yes, major talent and skillsets were lost from last season, now we need to find out who will step up to fill the voids.
Before we see the answer in about a week, VCU returned to the laboratory with notes in hand and this quote in the back of their minds.
“You can’t just have VCU on your shirt and be at home and think it’s (just) going to happen. You gotta go do it.” –Coach Rhoades
CTRL + Reset = Power Off
Alright, Let’s Get Re-Started.
VCU Men’s Basketball returns to the Siegel Center for their 2nd exhibition of the year against Virginia Union. Tip-off is set for Friday, November 3rd at 7 PM.