“64 East!!!… 64 East!!!… 64 East!!!… 64 East!!!” – with a clever, and regionally specific, chant and a shake of the keys, the VCU Rams crowd sent the Monarchs of ODU home for the weekend. You want to know more you say?
I know you have the power of context clues but pretend it is before the game and peep…
MattWhite’s xxx (e.g. Kuba Kuba/Ipanema/American Family Fitness, etc. – I will negotiate the sponsorship and take a small %) keys to the game.
1. Eric be Eric
2. Larry stays out of foul trouble
3. One role player steps it up
4. Control Gerald Lee
Additional pre-game thought: fans NEED to sit together. we are at a disadvantage because there is no VCU “section”. All the other schools get their tickets from the same place (not the Coliseum box office) so they’re always sitting together. VCU = spread out. Plenty of people, but spread out.
Let’s break this up into the First 15 minutes or so and the last 5 and change.
In the first 15 minutes Larry Sanders got a quick foul, left the game. Eric Maynor went scoreless, missing several early shots. ODU goes up 10 and effectively takes away the crowd.
In the Last 5 minutes Eric Maynor scores 10 points, Gerald Lee continues to be a non-factor, Larry has a HUGE block and no more fouls, VCU goes on a 14-2 run and the Coliseum erupts.
Halftime score: 28-27 ODU.
- Gerald Lee’s line reads 3 rebounds, 2 points. (Yesterday his line read 10 rebounds, 30 points)
- Larry, despite garnering a quick personal in the first two minutes navigates, with the help of a clever rotation from Coach Grant, the rest of the first half without getting a foul.
- Wonderful defensive minutes from Gwynn, Saintil and Nixon.
- By the end of the half Larry was smiling every time Lee had him one on one (see first notable stat)
- ODU out-rebounded VCU 20-12 in the first half and 8-2 on the offensive glass.
Not as easily dissected as the first, the second half was a true battle. With 5 minutes gone in the half VCU had grabbed a 2 point lead despite committing several fouls – none of which were on Larry Sanders. (Burgess, Rodriguez, K.P all had 3 fouls with 5 minutes gone in the half). With 15:07 an Eric seemed to trigger a surge of VCU energy, and following some Sanders free throws, some Ed Nixon free throws (off a NICE steal) and a monstrous Sanders dunk, VCU surged to an 8 point lead – their largest of the day. With Eric Maynor asserting his control over every aspect of the game and Gerald Lee still contributing nothing VCU held onto a slight lead despite ODU getting into the double bonus with 9 minutes left and K.P fouling out. Big shot Brad hit a 3 with 6:03 to go that ignited the crowd, Eric followed with a L-O-N-G 3 at the 4:33 mark and going into an ODU timeout VCU carried a 9 point lead.
***This timeout is notable because several VCU players followed this author’s advice and learned how to do that “big arm raising to get the crowd involved” thing.***
With 3:09 left, JRod hit a monster 3 and with 1:33 Eric put up a beautiful alley-oop to Sanders. VCU walked off the court with a 61-52 win and a date to play hated rival George Mason tomorrow night at 7:00 for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TICKETS GET THEM RIGHT NOW. (http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/01004179BFF26C50?artistid=1280642&majorcatid=10004&minorcatid=7)
- Larry Sanders did not pick up his second foul until 9:03 left in the half.
- With 9:03 left the bench had scored 12 points – 25% of VCU’s total.
- Gerald Lee’s final line read 4 rebounds, 5 points.(again, yesterday his line read 10 rebounds, 30 points)
- VCU held ODU to 25% field goal percentage in the second half and 11% from the 3 point line for the game.
- Larry scored 12 and had 14 boards. He sat only 5 minutes.
You can be certain of a sellout crowd and a special basketball game tomorrow night. VCU is hitting on all cylinders – playing great D, dealing well with adversity in games, and Eric Maynor is proving all over again why he is a special special basketball player. See him one more time in Richmond before he takes on the NCAA Tourney and you have to convince your significant other to get the NBA DirectTV package next year.
P.S. if you have a robot heart and are not yet P-U-M-P-E-D watch this…(the last time VCU met GMU in the CAA Championship)