I do my fool's best to make things make sense in this space, to try to pick a little of this and little of that to weave together a perspective on the progression of this team and this season. It's mostly an easy task. If you spend time in earnest thought and not immediate emotional reaction, it comes together. (Related: I need more sleep.)
It's important, I think, to find the progression and the true meaning. It's about more than missed free throws, which exist in their own vacuum. Bad officiating exists for everybody. VCU will make shots and miss shots and steal the ball and give up layups. It's all part of the game. It's also why these recaps are a little delayed in being published–I want to get it right.
This GW game had me confounded for quite some time. I have to let it go, and I will, but not just yet. I owe you an answer. It came to me last night, and I have the swings of the George Mason/UMass game to thank. Simply put, you can dive as deeply as you'd like, but it comes to this: there were swings in our game, but generally speaking we didn't play well. Period. GW was good enough to win.
- It's possible Treveon Graham has played a worse game since the Freight Trein first left the station, but I doubt it. I'm wholly unconcerned. Graham is a gamer and a stud and he will be fine. We are fortunate he is so darn steady.
- VCU was pounded on the glass 45-29, but the Rams were also outrebounded in each game of its five-game winning streak leading up to GW. What the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICK?
- We scored six points in 33 seconds to take a 25-20 lead, but then scored four points the the final 7:35 of the first half.
- Yes we shot 37% from the field, but also snared 13 offensive rebounds. Seven times an offensive rebound produced additional points (12 total), and that happened five times in the second half.
- We came into the game with the far deeper and more productive bench. However bench minutes: 25 for VCU, and 25 for GW.
- GW scored 46 points in the paint. That's 23 field goals. The Colonials made 27 total field goals. Quick math leads me to believe GW made just four jump shots, two of which were three-pointers. (Thanks, HH)
- Their primary ballhandlers–Joe McDonald, Maurice Creek and Kethan Savage–had 11 points, nine assists, and 14 turnovers. The Rams turned over GW on 28% of their possessions–dead on season average.
See what I mean? You can drive yourself crazy diving in and out of the good, bad, and ugly.
And this is where I go back to the words of Shaka Smart talking about details. Details of offensive execution will prevent a seven-minute scoring Sahara. We're not a great shooting team so we have to focus on getting the best possible shots within the offense.
Details of boxing out will allow VCU to grab more than 61.5% of available defensive rebounds. Details of keeping your man in front of you will help keep teams out of the paint. We go four guards for good stretches of the game, so those details matter as the guards must help the big men.
So the bottom line of it all: we didn't play well, against a very good team, on their floor in a raucous atmosphere. And we trailed by four and had the ball in our hands. If not for a lack of attention to detail, that's a game we had an opportunity to win. That's a good thing. I remain encouraged by the direction. Don't forget, at the moment you are reading this, the guys are likely practicing, improving upon the execution of those details.
On to Duquesne, because a gargantuan week awaits. VCU travels to Dayton and then to LaSalle next week. Those are major league opportunities to establish ourselves in the A-10 race.
One final detail: we are not coaches or players. We get to look ahead.