Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Anthony Grant era (season) at VCU

It is widely expected that Anthony Grant will be offered the head coaching job at Florida, and he will accept it. Grant, who won the CAA's Coach of the Year honor in his first season (28-7) at VCU, will be making news soon, whatever he decides to do. It would certainly be bigger news if he decides to stay on at VCU.

According to reports now circulating, Grant's top assistant at VCU, Tony Pujol, who also came to VCU from Florida a year ago -- who, like Grant, is also from Southern Florida -- has moved to the top of the list of those possible candidates most likely to replace Grant.

From SLANTblog and here are selected highlights from the 2006-07 basketball season, which will supply some background on Grant, and some of the reasons he is being sought-after by Florida today.

Not your daddy’s VCU Rams

...Something very interesting, hoops-wise, is in its early stages of development here in the Fan District. The Rams new coach, Anthony Grant, has VCU playing at a pace just short of a runaway train, but almost magically, the players are not out of control.

VCU atop the CAA

...Asked after the game if he ever considered using a junk defense on Neal, Rams head coach Anthony Grant smiled and shook his head. Many coaches prefer not to use box-and-ones, or other such off-balance defenses.

“It was tempting,” said Grant. Then he smiled more widely as he shook hands with his happy boss, VCU president Dr. Eugene Trani, who is a frequent visitor in the Siegel Center’s media room.

VCU outlasts ODU

...Led by point guard Eric Maynor’s play down the stretch -- he finished with 23 points, six assists and five boards -- the Rams outplayed the Monarchs until the final buzzer to seal the victory. Shooting guard B.A. Walker’s 19 points, five boards and three assists were key, as well.

“I tell [Maynor],” said VCU head coach Anthony Grant, “our team is going to go how he goes.”

Coach Grant also spoke proudly of his team’s gritty play in the second half of what was truly a tough game.

VCU and Duke?

Now the first-ever matchup with the high and mighty Blue Devils comes by way of the NCAA tournament, a year after Capel’s departure. This irony won’t be lost on the VCU players, who, facing this first-round game, may well be much hungrier than Duke’s.

Well, I think VCU has an excellent chance to defeat Duke. This is the weakest Duke squad we’ve seen in years and VCU is being coached by the first-year head coach who surely will be one of the most, if not THE most, sought-after coaches in the country in a month -- Anthony Grant.

Rams outlast Blue Devils

...As one who has covered VCU’s basketball program as a sportswriter for over two decades, I have to say this is as good a Rams team as I've written about. And, as a guy who went to VCU, I have to say head coach Anthony Grant is already the best coach the Rams have ever had; he is the ninth in school history.

The Bounce

...New coaches and players and will come and go, but for departing VCU seniors Jesse Pellot-Rosa and B.A. Walker, Coach Grant and the greater Rams' family, they will always have Buffalo.

Photos: SLANT

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