Game of the Day: VCU vs Texas | 7ET | ESPN2
On March 18, 2015, The Washington Post ran a story with the headline, “Why is Shaka Smart still at VCU?” At the time of the article, the Rams were just a few years removed from their Final Four run, and Smart had already turned down job offers from UCLA, Wake Forest and Marquette. The reason Shaka seemed so adamant to stay at VCU goes back to his days as a player at Division III Kenyon College. He had been raised as a kid by a single mother, and while being recruited to play at Kenyon, then-head coach Bill Brown had become like a father figure to Shaka. Yet after his freshman year, Brown left Kenyon, a day which Smart would call “one of the worst days of my life.” VCU was home for him, and in the same article, VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin said it would be “laughable” that Smart would ever leave VCU.
Treveon Graham said in that article, “Ever since I got here my freshman year, they were saying he was going to leave. It’s that loyalty he has for his team and players that’s a big thing for me. After every year that he gets the calls, he always lets us know he going to be here longer than a lot of us. I mean, it give us that confidence to know he’s going to be here after every year.”
On April 2, 2015, just 18 days after the first article was published, Shaka Smart left VCU to become the head coach at Texas. The man who turned down a job at arguably the most storied program in the entire country, UCLA, left to take a job at Texas. The man who would never leave VCU because he didn’t want to do to his players what Bill Brown did to him at Kenyon.
Two players still remain at VCU from the days when Shaka was coach: Jonathan Williams and Justin Tillman. Though they may not say so publicly, this game means so much to them. Not to mention the fans of VCU, the Atlantic 10, and hell, fans of any mid-major program who fear their coach will leave for “greener pastures” and larger salaries. This is so much more than just a game, more than VCU getting a shot at a win over a power conference team. This is about beating the man who would never leave VCU, until one day, he just did. This is personal.
Prediction: VCU 96 Texas 84
Davidson vs VMI | 7ET | A-10 Network
If there ever was a game that Davidson absolutely should win, it’s this one. Davidson is ranked KenPom #77, and #98 in the RPI and BPI polls. The Keydets on the other hand are KenPom #335 and #216 in the RPI and the BPI. That in itself is self-explanatory of why the Wildcats have no buisness losing this game. Davidson is also averaging roughly twenty more points per game than VMI is this season. As long as Davidson does what they need to do, this should be a pretty easy win.
Prediction: Davidson 94 VMI 71