By Ken Cross
The VCU Rams are only one of eight teams that have appeared in the last six NCAA Tournaments and with a 20-5 record and tied for first in the Atlantic 10 with the Dayton Flyers, seven straight is a certainty. Sometimes, though,it pays for the stars to align.
On February 4, St. Bonaventure guard Matt Mobley hit a triple with .5 seconds remaining and the Bonnies fans stormed the court as the St. Bonaventure players left the bench as well. The officials called an indirect technical foul and gave VCU a free throw. Jaquan Lewis stepped to the line and made it after order was restored. The Rams controlled the overtime to take the 83-77 win.
Then, last Wednesday at George Washington, Colonials swingman Yuta Watanabe hit a potential game-winning three-pointer, but as Justin Tillman ran the baseline, Lewis set up and was subsequently ran over by GW’s Collin Goss. The official immediately whistled the foul with .4 seconds remaining. Lewis hit both free throws and the Rams took home the 54-53 win. Two improbable wins as both were on visiting courts.
“I wish we didn’t have the flare for the dramatic that we have,” said VCU coach Will Wade, “When I was a manager with Larry Shyatt, who was the coach at Clemson and is now an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks, we ran something similar to that one year at FSU and we got trucked and there was a no-call. I have always kind of stored it in the back of my mind. It’s called, ‘hole in one’ and is part of what I combined with what happened at Clemson.”
It’s a play that Wade uses in practice as prep for in game situations.
“I combined the hole-in-one play with the play that Coach Shyatt ran to get the guy free on the baseline and that’s how I came up with it. We have a late game play book and a late game book we use.”
Wade noted that his players get tired of hearing the play and noted that he used it Chattanooga.
“We have practiced it probably 350 times between here and Chattanooga and we are fortunate that it worked.”
Pollard taking charge for the Flyers
Dayton coach Archie Miller has a veteran squad that could get deep in the NCAA Tournament . Seniors Charles Cooke, Scoochie Smith, and Kendall Pollard have all had their moments in contributing to the 19-5 record and the stable force in the A-10.
Pollard’s game continues to rise as he leads the Flyers in scoring and is one of six players in this senior class that has currently tied the Dayton record with 97 wins.
“Kendall works really hard everyday in practice,” explained Miller, “He is really the guy who is an anchor down the home stretch. He is doing a nice job in practice and preparation.”
Pollard, along with Smith and Cooke have shown terrific leadership as they move into the later parts of their final season as Flyers.
“He is doing a nice job in timeouts and huddles and is doing a great job for us,” noted Miller, “He is playing as we hoped he would down the home stretch.”