After going five and three with a tough schedule in November and early December, during a nine-win run, from Dec. 13 through Jan. 13, the VCU Rams performed steadily like a Top 20 team, a legitimate Final Four possibility. This spell raised expectations.
After three more wins, on Jan. 31 VCU's eye-popping streak of victories ended at the Siegel Center with a loss to the Richmond Spiders. More importantly, the Rams lost their most indispensable player -- senior point guard Briante Weber (pictured above with the ball in his hands), who blew out a knee.
Since the injury that ended Weber's college basketball career, head coach Shaka Smart's team has struggled to find its new balance. Weber's contributions had been at the heart of what Havoc had meant. Beyond his statistics his enthusiasm has been missed. His voice has been missed. His ability to make the opponents paranoid has been missed. In spite of his efforts to coach 'em up, Coach Smart has seen his team struggle with its confidence over the last six weeks.
Now expectations don't matter any more, but an answer for what was lost on Jan 31st is at hand. Smart's job is to put everything else out of his team's mindset. VCU is still a good team, but it's a good team that hasn't played a particularly good game in several weeks. Well, it says here the Rams are due. They're due for a hot shooting game.
Yes, the Spiders are a good team, too, but not good enough to beat VCU if the young players step up and give their best effort to executing the coach's overplaying system. Not if Melvin, playing so close to his home, is feeling it. Not if the Freight Train is running on schedule.
The Rams will beat the Spiders: VCU 72, Richmond 63.