BROOKLYN, NY - New Jersey Transit is a mode of transportation I am familiar with. On the subway, I am still a rookie even entering a third year traveling to the Barclays Center. Getting on the No. 3 train at Penn Station, there is a young lady in an Oregon sweatshirt. I was sure she was a student going to Barclays to cheer on the Ducks, who were facing VCU in the consolation game of the Legends Classic. “I don't go to Oregon,” she replied. “I applied but didn't get in.” At least she assured me the No. 3 train would stop at Barclays.
The Oregon-clad lady was right and the third place game was in order. Roughly 24 hours earlier, VCU had a tough time with Villanova. The Rams led early in the second half, only to see Villanova go on a game sealing 16-0 run.
Quite simply, the way VCU responded told us a lot about Shaka Smart's team. In a game of spurts, the Rams gained the proverbial separation the final ten minutes en route to a 77-63 victory. Coming back after that disheartening loss, getting prepared and coming out with intensity was not only impressive, but something VCU can build on as the season progresses and they aim for an Atlantic Ten title a few months away on this same floor.
Oregon finished 0-2. Coach Dana Altman saw positives for his young team and a number of things that need correcting. But that is the beauty of these early season affairs. Test yourself against top flight competition and address what needs fixing before the conference season is underway. A win or two in the process, all the better.
Outside Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue:
Only in Brooklyn: The concession stand at Barclays Center has a full bar...
...right across from a candy store:
VCU coaches, under the direction of Shaka Smart, huddle at halftime outside the locker room:
The VCU style of play, what they want to create, is spelled out:
The veritable Ronnie Weintraub busy crunching numbers at halftime:
Brandon Cruz, a fellow officiating camp attendee and good officiating friend I have had the pleasure of working with. Brandon worked VCU vs. Oregon with Robert Riley and Jim Bruno: