This is the first part of an unnumbered, multi-post series. What's going to occur is not complicated: we're going to spend the summer traversing VCU basketball history. Many times it is as simple as YouTube videos and memories of past moments. Others will be historical perspective. There will be current team updates and news and notes from 2013. It will be all over the place, but it will have one center: VCU basketball.
The goal: get us to the start of the season, which may never arrive.
Today, we remember the moment that begat the moment. The RamNation is well aware of Eric Maynor's Dagger that beat Duke in the 2007 NCAA tournament and everything surrounding it. In my mind, it was "the moment" in VCU basketball history.
One day we will regale ourselves with that shot and what followed--there's a 98 degree, 100% humidity August afternoon looming for that. However it was the moment that almost didn't happen.
If Maynor had not pulled off the greatest two minutes I have ever witnessed from one player in the 2007 CAA final against George Mason, there would be no Beat Duke signs followed by a Niagara Falls beating of Duke.
Set the scene: Mason had controlled most of the second half of the game. VCU had led twice, and briefly. It was one of those games that just didn't feel good. VCU trailed by five as the clock ticked under two minutes. George Mason had the basketball. Dre Smith crossed halfcourt and Maynor picked his pocket, heading the other way..........
Mason was coming off its Final Four run, and even though they waddled a bit during the season, the Patriots were two minutes from returning to the NCAA tournament and furthering their story. It's amazing what two minutes can impact.
Listen to hoops maven Bill Simmons, who wrote the next day on ESPN.com, back in the day where we inhaled three words written about VCU on ESPN.com: If you missed the end of the George Mason-VCU game Monday night, you missed the greatest random clutch performance in college hoops since Henry Steele came off the bench to win the climactic game in "One On One."
And then: You might see a pickpocket steal 10 times all season; Maynor did it on back-to-back plays in a do-or-die situation. Incredible. Amazing.
Side note: the most entertaining postgame part of it all was George Mason fans arguing Darryl Monroe's foul was not intentional. And they were right, if you pay no attention to grabbing the back of Maynor's jersey, then swinging him around, then putting him in the "I'm sorry" bear hug.
And don't forget this: Calvin Roland outscored Will Thomas on that evening.
But anyway, before we get to the evidence, I want you to remember one more thing. In the semifinals against Drexel, Mike Anderson played his butt off. Anderson was the star Rams player during a sluggish first half against the Dragons and finished with 16 points.