Matt White goes to a basketball game and proceeds to form “emotional relationships” with the players. (!!!!!!!!!!!)
I’m excited about the season. Since the Braves left, Rams b-ball is all I/we have. The team has character, good players, a svelte coach, and the Siegel Center is even a pretty tight place to watch a game. I know we’re not in the greatest conference, but hell, Memphis is a for real contender and they play in freakin’ Conference USA. On Sunday the Rams opened the season against The Citadel, and I was there. Lets tackle this game, introduce you to the people you need to know, and see if we cant get the bandwagon to fill up a little bit more – every little bit counts.
So there I was at the home opener of the VCU Rams where, pretty much, I had no business being*. Of course, if I was crammed back in the bleachers somewhere, maybe if I had grabbed a friends season ticket or was bringing a date… then, of course, my legitimacy would not be at stake. However, I was tucked in on press row, representing RVANews well – some plaid flannel, bushy beard and all, buckled down to do some official reporting. Right in front of me Eric Maynor drained some threes and Coach Grant looked supa-fly. Eric and Coach, along with Sophomore Larry Sanders represent the three main story lines going into the season. Eric is last year’s CAA player of the year, the preseason player of the year, and the only senior on the team. Coach Grant is a tremendous coach, has been a fantastic recruiter (2007 class ranked #5 in mid majors), and is at risk of leaving for a major coaching assignment at the end of every season. Larry Sanders is a sophomore center who was 11th in the nation in blocks last year and whose potential already has some NBA scouts visiting the Siegel Center on occasion.
No need to mince words, my game recap goes like this…
- Turns out you get a free meal. I bypassed the meal for peanut butter cookies and a Mountain Dew.
- SO many media kits?!? There’s some sort of “green” joke here, because seriously, so much paper paper paper.
- RVANews doesnt have a special plastic name card on press row but I make do.
- Starting 3 sophomore, 1 freshman, 1 senior. That’s a young team, folks.
- Starting small. 6’3, 6’10, 6’5, 6’2, 6’4. Nimble and lithe.
- Larry sanders had a rough first half……1 rebound, 0 points, 3 blocks, 1 steal. Don’t give me any Bill Russel talk either, that stat line is rough.
- T.J. Gwynn, whose shoes i liked, hustled his butt off, lead all scorers with 14, was in all the right places and RVANews wishes they had workers with that kind of work energy and work ethic.
- After starting slow, shooting 20% from the floor in the first 5 minutes, the Rams went on a 14-0 run, and by the end of the half, their shooting percentage reached 48%.
- The Citadel had 14 turnovers with the Rams contributing 7 steals to that effort.
- The Rams shot 25% from the 3 point line. Ugh, 25%.This isnt baseball guys….EVEN IF IT WAS!!! (I’ll BH the 3-point line has been moved)
- Full court press all game. Two 10 second calls!! (10 second calls are when your defense is so bad-ass that the other team can’t get the ball past half court in 10 seconds. They rarely happen.)
- The VCU dance team is apparently named the Gold Rush Dancers which is clearly an amazing name. I was going to debut the “Matt White Gold Rush Dancer of the Week” cell phone pic but I decided against it. By “decided against it” I mean I thought of the idea after the game and will do it next time.
- Pep band plays Parliament.
- Hot stat girl. IJS!!
- Gwynn, the hustler with the fly shoes, doesn’t start the half but is quickly brought in….Related story: Larry Sanders sits. Guys, let me tell you how much potential is worth…
- I’m developing emotional relationships with all these players.
- 43!!! points off the bench for the game, 31 points off turnovers.
- 12 people available, 10 play. No garbage minutes either, kids, Coach really has a 10(+) man rotation.
- Eric Maynor asserts himself a bit..
- Though intimidated, I ask questions to both coaches during the press conference and (knock on wood) managed to sound reasonably professional. If you have questions you would like to submit to be taken under consideration as press conference material please write me at matthew.e.whiteATgmail.com. Maybe I can walk up to the table and have Coach Grant pick y’all’s questions out of a hat. (until he picks Susan’s and its something vaguely sexual and EXTREME awkwardness ensues).
- Also MattWhite’s game ball def goes to T.J “tight shoes” Gwynn. 20 points, 8-8 from the field, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 80% from the line.
The Rams really did play “94 feet both ways” as Coach Grant likes to call it. They pressed ALL game, hustled, got out and ran and generally relied on loads of energy to make things happen. Eric Maynor quietly controlled the game, despite starting cold from the field and he has a slew of players to get the ball to. Nine players played 10 minutes and the guys that didn’t start scored more than the guys who did. The Ram defense caused 23 turnovers converting those to over a third of their points. The future is bright, the team is talented, and a superb coach is leading the way. I swear if you go to a game and pay attention you will get emotionally attached. Even robot-heart Ross and robette-heart Susan couldn’t help but fall for these guys. You may as well start attending now so that in a few months when the city descends into Ram Basketball madness and everyone is trying to find an empty seat on that bandwagon you will already have yours safe and sound. The next game is Wednesday at 7:30pm.
*Before I go too far in discrediting myself and you stop reading this before we ever get started let me say one brief thing about myself. I played, and played well I might add, high school basketball at a relatively competitive level. I played next to some future D-1ers, my JV years saw me running side by side with some future NBA’ers and at one point even shared the court with Tracy Mcgrady. Not to toot my horn, and I do love horns, but I need to get that out of the way before my music writing reputation precedes me and you click over to Susan’s movie review[**] thinking that this whole bit is going to be about the pep band.
[**Backstory: I punched him really hard last night and bruised my knuckles. – ed.]