2018-19 Atlantic 10 Regular Season Champion. Virginia Commonwealth University cashed in one of their season goals after defeating their
rival opponent in George Mason. The Rams did the unthinkable at EagleBank Arena to claim the title outright thanks to a mindboggling 2nd half performance.
One more conference game remains on the hunters’ schedule before deployment into Brooklyn for the A-10 Men’s Basketball Tournament. So the question is: Now What? Back to Hunting.
From Hardship to Dominance
Tuesday night’s 71-36 victory for VCU Men’s Basketball was more than just a Senior Night spoiler for George Mason. That 36-point tally by the Patriots is the new record in points allowed by VCU in school history. New Hampshire held that honor back on February 11th, 1992 in a 42-37 win by the Rams under Coach Sonny Smith.
The contest was far from lopsided at the beginning stages. VCU and George Mason could not score even the simplest of shots in addition to turnovers around every corner. Head Coach Mike Rhoades went through his Ram Army early but the lukewarm offense remained in the 1st half. VCU managed 2 assists compared to 9 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.
Granted Mason hit the wall offensively alongside VCU until Marcus Evans became the cure. Evans got the basketball hot for VCU with 11 first-half points and went 3-of-5 behind the arc. Then the 2nd half got underway.
“Let’s keep attacking the lane and keep attacking the basket. And we did that more in the second half.”
–VCU Head Coach, Mike Rhoades
VCU had a 28-21 lead and expanded that tremendously via a 23-0 scoring run with Evans on the bench cheering on his brothers. Marcus Santos-Silva got into a paint groove scoring at will. De’Riante Jenkins and Issac Vann taking flight to the rim for highlight dunks. Even Malik Crowfield turned into MAL3K off the VCU bench.
A streak of eleven wins for VCU has the Rams standing alone as the #1 seed in the Atlantic 10 at 15-2. This victory was the Black & Gold’s 6th consecutive road wins this season. The last time VCU did that, the Rams won their first Atlantic 10 Tournament championship in 2014-15 via the Revenge Tour.
Return of MAL3️⃣K‼️
Malik Crowfield reminded people that the Ram wearing #13 still has that trigger finger from three-point range. Compared to last year, Crowfield’s shooting totals went down which may have raised a few eyebrows. In 2017-18 there were 128 three ball attempts by Crowfield compared to his 72 currently.
Change is difficult yet inevitable. Crowfield’s role on the team changed from three-point specialist to various roles in VCU’s defense and passing games to suit the team’s needs. No complaints and a professional work rate led Crowfield to improvements in his game all-around.
Back in February versus George Washington showcased that range in Crowfield’s arsenal. Siegel going in pandemonium seeing the return MAL3K scoring 3-of-4 against the Colonials. Saint Louis was a cold night missing 4 threes then MAL3K torched Richmond for 4-of-7 in their own building.
Fast forward to a 2-of-3 night at Fairfax, Malik Crowfield has gone 6-of-10 in total from three over the last two games. Change may be inevitable but some old habits never die. And for VCU, the return of MAL3K is a welcomed addition.
All of that work and sacrifice embraced in the grind of a college basketball season was worth the ordeal for VCU. Now with the Atlantic 10 Regular Season Championship in outright hand, the Rams can just coast into Brooklyn and possibly the NCAA Tournament afterward?
And Again….NO! NO! NO!!!
Motivated is not a strong enough word for VCU at this moment. VCU as a basketball team is almost nearly possessed with achieving greatness amongst this young group of men. When Issac Vann stated “Win Them All” after the Saint Louis game, he damn well means it.
They aren’t worried about a decline from winning too much or letting one game slip before the A-10 tournament. VCU legitimately craves victory after victory after victory towards the Atlantic 10 Tournament crown. Regular Season has been won. Great, What’s Next?
Which brings back First Four to Final Four vibes of VCU legend. I’m seeing similarities from arguably the greatest VCU team of all-time in today’s team of the present. The brotherhood, the mentality to compete with anybody, the will to work and get better daily, the knack of not backing down. All of that is there in the here and now which has my Black & Gold heart jolting with every heartbeat.
One Last Dance at the Stu
Friday night at the Siegel Center will be VCU’s final curtain call from home. Michael Gilmore and Xavier Jackson will be honored as VCU seniors which will bring the noise on Broad Street. Saint Joseph’s (6-11) is no joke of an opponent as the visitors tuning up before A-10 tournament time.
No need for VCU to look ahead with the hunt far from over. The time for celebration after collecting the bounty on the Atlantic 10 Regular Season championship has come and went. Coach Rhoades and company know how much that means to VCU and this rambunctious fan base; they are also aware of the impact a possible second A-10 tournament title in Brooklyn and a run in the NCAA Tournament can do as well.
Success in Fairfax has VCU roaming back home in good spirits. Avenging last season’s theft by Ian Boyd on a last-second heave robbing VCU of their senior night. They now rest and prepare to get back out on the hunting trail. There’s more loot out in the wild ready for the Rams to plunder.
VCU’s final home game of the 2018-19 season takes place on Friday, March 8th versus Saint Joseph’s. Senior Night begins at 9 PM and broadcasted on ESPN 2.