One way that VCU’s Coach Smart blocked out distractions this season was by focusing on preparation, scouting, and game planning with his assistant coaches. However, the players used an additional tool before the game to help them wreak HAVOC: a locker room soundtrack of hip hop music.
Throughout this year’s amazing VCU Basketball season, there has been much written about the Rams’ HAVOC style of basketball. Coach Shaka Smart credits a lot of his team’s success to approaching each game with “the right mind set.” In the lead up to the Rams’ second round NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State, Coach Smart said “We focus on keeping in the moment–there will be a lot of talk, a lot of chatter, a lot of noise and drama that surrounds the game. It is what the media does–it’s a part of the game. But for us, we need to concentrate on what matters and that is our focus for Wichita State.”
One way that Coach Smart blocked out distractions this season was by focusing on preparation, scouting, and game planning with his assistant coaches. However, the players used an additional tool before the game to help them wreak HAVOC: a locker room soundtrack of hip hop music.
“There is not one set song that the team listens to before the game but everyone has their headphones going–there are a lot of beats playing in our locker room,” said starting point guard Darius Theus, prior to making the trip to Portland. Theus, who poured in 16 points, four assist, and five steal against Drexel in the CAA Championship Game–a performance that awarded him the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player–said music helps him get motivated and focused before games. “I listen to a lot of music but right now before a game it’s, Young Jeezy’s T. M. 103: Hustlerz Ambition” said Theus.[audio:http://media.rvanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Young-Jeezy-Ft-Jay-Z-Andre-3000-I-Do.mp3|titles=I Do|artists=Young Jeezy Ft. Jay-Z & Andre 3000]
Similar to Theus, the Rams’ 6th man, Rob Brandenberg, also fueled his pregame routine with hip hop. “I listen to a lot of artists and all types of music, but before the game I listen to Jay-Z,” said Brandenberg. He continued to say, “Jay-Z is my favorite artist. He is always in my headphones–it helps me get my mind right before the game.” In his sophomore season, Brandenberg led the Rams’ bench players in points (8.9) and minutes (25.8).[audio:http://media.rvanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/01-Public-Service-Announcement-Interlude.mp3|titles=Public Service Announcement|artists=Jay-Z]
The Rams’ only senior, and universal leader, this season was “Big Shot” Brad Burgess. Burgess had an amazing season and career by doing a lot of everything: minutes played (32.2–team high), points (13.4–team high), rebounds (4.9–second on the team), and he did all of this without ever missing a start. Burgess’s VCU career ended Saturday night with the loss to Indiana and along with it his remarkable consecutive start steak (146)–that’s the most consecutive starts in NCAA Basketball history. In addition, his 1,684 career-points ranks sixth on VCU’s all-time scoring list. The player that did it all for VCU took a moment to list a few musicians that he listened to before VCU games. “Anything that gets me hype is what I listen to before the game,” said Burgess. He added Kanye West and Rick Ross to the previously mentioned Jay-Z and Jeezy as perfect game-time music.[audio:http://media.rvanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/1-06-Monster.mp3|titles=Monster|artists=Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver]
Prior to departing for Portland, Troy Daniels was clearly the most excited Ram in the media room on Selection Sunday. Daniels, who played less than 5 minutes in last year’s magical run to the final four, started 19 games this season and was a major contributor to the Rams’ success. He led the team in total 3-pointers and 3-point shooting percentage. He hit several big shots, including a huge 3-pointer in the final minutes of the Wichita State win. “I listen to several artists too but I have to say J. Cole,” said a smiling Daniels. “The Friday Night Lights Mixtape, I must have listened to that whole mixtape before several games this season…it just gets me pumped up.”[audio:http://media.rvanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/16-Work-Out.mp3|titles=Work Out|artists=J Cole]
For the record, the ultimate leader of HAVOC, Coach Smart, took a little softer approach when we met at the beginning of the season, “I love all Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, I have an eclectic taste. I like a little bit of everything.
As the Rams prepare for the off season, this fan has to thank them for another amazing run. I’m not the first to say this and won’t be the last: PLEASE COACH–ONE MORE YEAR!!!