Wednesday, March 19, 2008

VCU falls to old nemesis UAB

Tonight at the Siegel Center the UAB Blazers knocked VCU out of the National Invitational Tournament and thus ended VCU’s 2007-08 basketball season. In losing to the Blazers, 80-77, the Rams overall record fell to 24-8.

After his team’s desperate rally to catch the visitors fell three points short, VCU head coach Anthony Grant (pictured above) faced the press in the media room. His Rams may have won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season crown, but they were one-and-done in the poor man’s postseason tournament. Grant’s usual practiced post-game steady voice wasn’t there, instead he sounded calm but worn out.

VCU point guard Eric Maynor, scored just two points in the first half, then finished with a game-high 22 points. Senior guard Jamal Shuler scored 21 points in his last game in a VCU uniform.

Grant praised his players’ effort in the second half. Unfortunately, their rather lackluster effort in the first half had left the Rams 11 points behind the taller and stronger Blazers, who pushed the lead to 15 with 6:39 left in the game.

VCU showed a lot of grit in the tilt‘s last five minutes, but it was too little, too late. It was another game in which the talented but moody Rams seemed unwilling to play with sufficient intensity for enough minutes to win against a well-coached, rugged opponent. No doubt, for Grant, some losses are more exhausting than others.

UAB advanced to the NIT’s second round, where they will face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Here’s hoping Grant will get a good night’s sleep and wake up wanting to coach at the Siegel Center for Maynor’s senior year, to see how his freshmen from Florida can do with a year’s experience under their belts. VCU has the potential, if the Rams play with more maturity next year, to be a Top 25 team.

-- Photo from VCU

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