This may be an unpopular game recap of VCUs 69-48 victory over that bunch from Norfolk. You see, there were a handful of comfirmations yesterday--not the least of which is that VCU is better at college basketball.
I can't get hung up in the "ODU rivalry" anymore. The emotion surrounding it is not the same as it used to be. We don't play in February, and NCAA tournament hopes are not on the line. I don't mean this as a criticism, but Jeff Jones is very vanilla. You can't hate the guy, and honestly he's doing some good things down there.
Because of the trajectory of both programs, the edge is not there. At least it was not for me. I had a hunch this was the case before yesterday's game, and it was confirmed. It's a sad passing for I will miss it--I loved it--but something was missing yesterday.
To that end this recap will be fairly clinical in nature. I want to strip every bit of drama and rivalry and side note out of this and look at the game from a pure basketball perspective. ODU had nobody taller than 6-7. Richard Ross was the only player listed at greater than 220 pounds. Of course this was the opportunity to push the ball into the post as much as humanly possible.
When you look at Juvonte Reddic's impact--the 24 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocked shots--you should rightfully be impressed. And check out the 27 offensive rebounds, a comical number, against Old Dominion grabbing only 21 defensive rebounds. Note: the ODU primary ballhandlers committed a combined 15 turnovers--nine for Aaron Bacote.
In fact, note that Bacote hit a three to give ODU a nausea-producing 41-40 lead with 12:53 to play. Now do the math: VCU finished the game on a 29-7 run. In that last 13 minutes of play, VCU outrebounded ODU 23-7, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds. Clearly the cumulative effects of havoc played out for the undermanned Monarchs.
Here's what all of that boils down to: VCU may not have done what it wanted to do, but the Rams did what they had to do. They kept punishing the paint and attacking the rim and stayed true to their principles, and it eventually fell into place. There was an activity level, a spirit, that led to those numbers. It's what happens when a game plan meets on-floor execution.
It wasn't perfect, to be sure.
We are still in early December. This team is still finding its way and working out kinks and problems. We are fortunate that the havoc style of play allows us to wipe out four bad minutes with a five-possession lightning bolt of turnovers and 12-2 runs. What you saw against Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, and Old Dominion was VCU basketball.
It's not going to be perfect, not this time of year, but VCU has the luxury of attacking and winning and getting better. You think it's a fluke VCU is a much better team in March than November? It's all part of that process Shaka Smart talks about. You are watching it play out.
Curmudgeon time: ODU was the third straight opponent to begin the game shooting 8-10 from the field. That's just weird. There is no question in my mind that VCU hit the floor running from the opening tap--this was the most energetic game they've played this year. Smart said in the postgame that Reddic's big numbers start with energy and activity. It's odd that it isn't translating to early success.
Here's the oddest thing. Despite recent games looking like the opposition is running lay up drills against VCU--and there's no getting around shooting percentages--not one team has scored more than 68 points since we left Puerto Rico. ODUs 48 points is a season low.
It's frustrating to see so many layups, but you can't argue with the final verdict of 8-2.
Random nuggets: Jordan Burgess looked noticeably more comfortable yesterday...JeQuan Lewis continues to increase his value by playing smarter basketball...We're getting closer and closer to when the KenPom numbers become relevant. You will see more of that in the near future...Rob Brandenberg is 15 points from 1,000 for his career...has Doug Brooks ever met a shot he didn't like?