Game #9-420: Virginia Commonwealth Rams at Saint Louis BillikensFebruary 19, 2013 9:00 pm
Butler and VCU both home games for the A-10 school that plays in the metropolitan area where I live? I'm there, looking to see how these Final Four combatants from 2 years ago will fair. The Butler game
turned out to be one-sided, but I was still pumped to see how #HAVOC
would fare at Chaifetz Arena.
Interestingly enough, the free program reminded me that these two teams have only met twice in their history: both of them in the championship round of the 2010 College Basketball Invitational (CBI). VCU won that tournament by taking the best 2 out of 3, 2-0.
There was one minor difficulty that I was dreading: my Valpo Crusaders had a very important match-up with Loyola that started one hour earlier. I knew that game was going to distract me from doing justice to the game I was attending, especially after the crushing loss to Detroit a few days ago. However, two things conspired to resolve the dilemma for me: (1) no laptops allowed in Chaifetz Arena (not mentioned here
), but in a packed house it's not terribly unreasonable) and my Android doesn't play HLN games too well, even with free wifi, and (2) for the 2nd time I was treated to a huge blowout. #HAVOC
wilted for the most part under the superior pressure of the Billikens' stingy, suffocating defense and efficient handling of the press. I settled for using espn.com to follow the Valpo game, and while I couldn't help fret about yet another 15 point lead evaporating, I could watch the game in front of me.
Even though the final margin of victory was less than it was against Butler, this game was even more of a blowout. VCU stumbled from the opening tip. I had been hoping to see a real challenge to a team that has looked really good this year the 4 other times I've seen them. The last thing I expected to see after my 5 games this year at Chaifetz Arena was my own team
giving the home team the roughest ride of all.
VCU eventually stepped up the #HAVOC, trapping in the back-court and causing the Billikens more stress, but had a lot of trouble reaping any benefits from it. St. Louis handled the full court press very well, almost as if they had scouted and prepared for it. For a brief stretch in the 2nd half, VCU got hot from behind the arc and I experienced déjà vu: VCU was sinking 3 pointers while giving SLU layups. From a 17 point halftime deficit, they whittled it down to 11 very briefly. It reminded me of the very successful strategy Paul Westhead's Loyola Marymount teams used to run, happy to give up layups, push the ball up-court and drain a 3. I thought: maybe now I'll get the kind of game I was hoping to see, a real test of the home team.
But what I had seen was the test: SLU stemmed that tide almost immediately. The 11 point lead lasted for about 2 seconds, and the Rams never got that close again. In the last couple of minutes, they did pull within 14, but that was during garbage time.
Speaking of which: I really never get tired of sitting amongst fans who have the guts and mental consistency to bring the house down on incompetent refs no matter what the scoreboard says. I always admired the fans of the Arizona Wildcats who, 10,000+ strong, could let the zebras feel their wrath for a bad call against the home team even when their Wildcats were leading by 20 or so. After all, anyone can yell and scream at the refs when your team is losing or when the game is tight. Show me a fan base that is ready to bring the heat when their team is up by 20 and I'll show a big-time fan base. Even 101ESPN's Bob Ramsey got in on the action
, referring to a foul late in the 2nd half as a "cheap foul" while Bo Boroski was 5 feet from him checking the monitor. Bo took umbrage. Bob gave him the "talk to the hand" treatment. It's easy to see that they're very pleased with themselves here in the Gateway city. With about 90 seconds to go and SLU up by 20, a foul was called and the whole place rose up in holy, righteous anger
, including all those around me in section 102. I said to the guy next to me, "You do know the game is over, right?" Unfortunately - or fortunately - he didn't hear me. Again, every fan-base has whiners, but these people are major league whiners and it is truly something to behold. After all, if you're going to whine about the refs (and who doesn't?) I think you should be consistent about it. Those players on the floor bring their A-game from opening tip to final buzzer, so should you.
But seriously, folks. These particular players do bring their A-game from opening tip to final buzzer. Their game is worthy of high-minded fans who watch them play and the bells-and-whistles full-of-itself arena they play in. I may not respect spoiled fans or an arena that doesn't allow me to bring my laptop in, but I will always respect a team that doesn't take for granted all the privileges that have bestowed upon them. By the way, do you know who was not
whining about calls? The St. Louis Billikens and their coaching staff. They're fans may be spoiled, but they're not.
at SAINT LOUIS 76, VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 62
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 21-6 (9-3) -- J. Reddic 9-15 1-2 19; T. Graham 4-16 1-4 11; R. Brandenberg 1-6 0-1 2; B. Weber 1-1 0-0 2; D. Theus 3-4 2-3 8; T. Daniels 2-5 2-2 8; M. Johnson 3-5 2-2 10; J. Guest 1-1 0-0 2; D. Hinton 0-0 0-1 0; D. Haley 0-0 0-0 0; T. Okereafor 0-1 0-0 0; J. Tuoyo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 8-15 62.
SAINT LOUIS 20-5 (9-2) -- C. Ellis 4-10 0-1 10; D. Evans 5-6 4-6 14; M. McCall Jr. 3-7 8-8 15; J. Jett 6-9 3-4 16; R. Loe 2-4 0-0 5; J. Barnett 3-4 0-0 8; G. Glaze 1-1 0-0 2; C. Remekun 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-42 15-19 70.
Three-point goals: VCU 6-13 (T. Daniels 2-5; R. Brandenberg 0-1; T. Okereafor 0-1; T. Graham 2-3; M. Johnson 2-3), SLU 7-18 (K. Mitchell 0-3; C. Ellis 2-8; J. Barnett 2-3; J. Jett 1-2; R. Loe 1-2; M. McCall 1-3); Rebounds: VCU 31 (J. Reddic 12), SLU 26 (D. Evans 8); Assists: VCU 14 (D. Theus 5), SLU 10 (R. Loe 3); Total Fouls -- VCU 24, SLU 17; Fouled Out: VCU-None; SLU-None.