Tag Archives: VCU rams

Shaka Makes A Smart Decision

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You’re probably asking yourself why did Shaka Smart turn down another big conference deal in the last calendar year.

Because he’s, well, smart… Duh!

Turning down the Illinois job was a brilliant move by Smart because frankly the Illinois job just isn’t worth the trouble.

Let’s be real about Smart’s last two offers from Illinois and Missouri. Yes they are big money conferences who can give him more money and a larger talent pool to choose from.

However, these are middle of the pack schools in their own conferences. Illinois and Mizzou are mid-level major schools (get it, mid-majors?) who would look for Smart to elevate them to Ohio State or Kansas status and if it doesn’t happen then he’d be fired in three years.

If he left VCU to go to either if these schools then it’s high risk and low reward. It’s rare that Illinois is at the top of the Big 10 save for the “Flying Illini” of 89 or the 2005 final team lead by Derin Williams.

It’s a middle of the road team that hardly contends for titles no matter what kind of talent they get.

Would you rather have that job or stay at VCU where after your Final Four run last year you have high job security and no worries?

For Smart the only jobs that make sense for him to take are bigger schools who have a shot at contention no matter who is there.

Imagine if Jim Calhoun leaves UCONN in a month or Ben Howland steps down from UCLA. Those are the jobs Smart should wait on, big schools with high expectations and that want results.

With the possibility of this actually happening it is best that Shaka Smart said no to Illinois.

As a successful mid-major coach, Smart should not settle for a Mid-Major job. He should bring his talents to a big enough school so that he can add to his Final Four credentials.

That’s the Smart thing to do, and hopefully his patience will lead him to that.

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VCU Sticks It To The Haters

Hate if you want, but VCU is going to Houston.

So… Who still thinks VCU doesn’t belong in the NCAA tournament?

After the long and much talked about selection of VCU over Colorado an Virginia Tech, looks like the committee was absolutely right.

VCU was more than tough enough to hang with the big boys and showed no fear in mowing them down one by one. The Big Ten, Big East, ACC, Big 12 and PAC-10 all fell from their perches to the little school from Richmond, VA who who played bigger than their namesake.

The conversation at the beginning of the tournament was how could the NCAA allow a third team from a small conference like the CAA over another big conference school? The reality is that the CAA might’ve been better than most other conferences (hi, ACC and Big Ten).

Shaka Smart never let any of the attention get to his team. The very animated and energized coach kept his players focused on the task at hand. He put the game in his point guards hands and even though Joey Rodriguez chucked up some bad threes at times, he remained poised and made the necessary plays to help VCU reach the Final 4.

After beating a suspect USC team they handled downtrending Georgetown and beat up Purdue to make the Sweet 16. Brandon Burgess led VCU with 26 including a last second layup to stun Florida State to setup their Elite 8 matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks. To say that Kansas was not like any other team that they’ve faced is an understatement. To be honest with you, VCU faced the middle of the road teams of each conference that they faced. Georgetown, Florida State, USC, and Purdue were not thought about in the national title discussion. Kansas was a national title contender that was the clear favorite after Ohio State fell to Kentucky.

And none of that mattered as Shaka’s boys treated the Jayhawks as if they were the Delaware Blue Hens.

Shaka Smart had led his team to an precedented NCAA tournament run.

VCU raced out to a 14 point halftime lead as Jamie Skeen and company hit 9 of 17 threes and shut down the Kansas offense completely. Markieff Morris suffered through the worst game of his season turning the ball over 8 times and couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. They held Kansas to a season low 27 first half points and 11% from three point land. It was a dominating performance that made it seem like VCU was the one seed.

However, Kansas came back firing in the second causing several turnover and. Cutting the Rams lead to 2. With the partisan crowd rocking and the Rams fading, Smart never lost faith in his boys. He never called timeout and let them work through it. They rewarded him by jumping back up by ten behind Skeen’s shooting and Rodriguez’s ball handling including a great pass to Burgess for a deuce at the 8 minute mark.

That was it for the Jayhawks. They couldnt hit a shot for over four minutes and the Rams salted the game away as Kansas cried on their bench.

The celebration wasn’t like you would’ve expected. The Rams were cool and calm not being too overly exuberant. They dance an their few fans cheered loudly as Kansas walk off to another disappointment.

Their greatest achievement in all of this is that they have bragging right over rival George Mason, because, they are this year’s George Mason. They shocked the world just like their CAA compatriots, as and 11 seed, and beat the tournament favorite to do it.

So for anyone that said VCU didn’t belong, this is for you. Five wins in two weeks against a team from all major conferences except the SEC.

In a sense you could say the VCU Rams already are national champions.