The buzz word for the night was havoc. And that is what Shaka Smart delivered on the floor tonight at the Verizon Siegel Center as VCU hosted Virginia Union University for an exhibition game in what has become known as the “Downtown Showdown.” VCU won that battle handily as they notched their first victory of the season by handing VUU an 85-55 loss.
The buzz word for the night was havoc. That was the style of play that VCU’s first year men’s head basketball coach promised at his introductory press conference when he was hired last spring. And that is what Shaka Smart delivered on the floor tonight at the Verizon Siegel Center as VCU hosted Virginia Union University for an exhibition game in what has become known as the “Downtown Showdown.” The pace was frenetic as both teams pushed the ball down the floor in order to gain the upper hand in transition. VCU won that battle handily as they notched their first victory of the season by handing VUU an 85-55 loss.
Virginia Union coach Willard Coker said after the game that “VCU’s style of play was great……their style of play was hectic and we lost a lot in transition.” This led to sloppy play at times as both teams combined for an ugly 36 turnovers on the night. Despite this, there were more than a few bright spots in the midst of all this havoc. Junior point guard Joey Rodriguez provided great on court leadership and play-making ability. He finished the night with 6 assists, but had VCU shot better that figure could have easily been doubled. The best shooter for the Rams was Richmond’s own Brandon Rozzell; the former Highland Springs Springer had 4 three pointers and 14 total points last night.
The star of the night, and the one who seemed to benefit from this style of play the most, was none other than junior forward Larry Sanders. Sanders spent the summer at the Amare Stoudemire and Lebron James skills academy and it showed. By half time Sanders had already had a double/double; he finished the game with 22 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots. Larry goes by the nickname “Landlord,” which he has more than earned with his prodigious rebounding. On top of that with 11:22 to play in the game, Sanders caught an alley-oop pass and flushed it home with a roar. The crowd loved every minute of it. After the game, Sanders was asked whether or not he could fill the leadership and production void left by former VCU star and now NBA player Eric Maynor. Sanders replied, “Big things will come from everybody, not just me”.
If this strong opening performance is a sign of things to come then yes, big things will come… along with a lot of havoc.