Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rams outlast Blue Devils

It was an intense 40 minutes of postseason basketball. The Rams beat the Blue Devils in a contest that will be remembered, both teams gave it their all: VCU 79, Duke 77.

It came down to two squads quite evenly-matched, but from way different ends and expectations. Still, when push came to shove, one team didn’t have the best guard on the floor, the other did. He was VCU’s Eric Maynor, who scored 22 points in the game and hit the winning basket.

The last person to be surprised by this turn of events was probably Jeff Capel, VCU’s former head coach -- now at Oklahoma -- who originally recruited Maynor from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Capel’s home town.

My published prediction for this game read this way: “...Yeah, I know this prediction could look way too home-cooked after the game is played, but here goes anyway: VCU 69, Duke 64.”

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.

That’s no slam on Capel, or anybody else. No, Grant is just that good.

1 comment:

Z said...

You hear a lot about teams who just can't seem to "finish." (Clemson this year, for example.) Whether ahead or behind, the '06-'07 Rams are among the best closers I've ever seen. They needed a solid final 10 minutes in part because, in the first ten minutes, nothing was working. They often took rushed, bad shots and, even when they had good looks and good position, nothing was going in. They looked snake bitten.

But the mental toughness they've shown all year was in clear evidence. Example: for 30 minutes, most of Maynor's attempts to drive for a layup or pull up jumper missed or were slapped away, but he and Grant never quit believing they would make it work.

And they did.

I flat-out love this team.