When I thought of VCU, I thought of the wiry Briante Weber leading that full-court pressure which captures the nation’s attention around this time every year. Weber is the key irritant in coach Shaka Smart’s “Havoc” style. Seeing his deceptively wide wingspan and his headband soaking up all the sweat of his hustle was a frightening sight for opposing teams.
Saturday VCU fans saw a frightening sight for their beloved leader.
Weber was just 12 steals short of the all-time NCAA record before a tear of an ACL/MCL that ended his collegiate career.
On this Super Bowl Sunday, the college basketball landscape is reacting to this harrowing tragedy. Media members in Richmond, Virginia are tweeting how pleasurable it was to cover Weber’s career. This from cartoonist “RVA Coffee Stain” on Sunday morning:
Of course, players nationwide are sending condolences for a senior season cut short. The VCU Rams were ranked 14th in the nation and riding a twelve game winning streak before they lost to Richmond on Saturday. Georgetown preseason Player of the Year D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera tweeted his thoughts on Weber’s place in NCAA hoops history:
From a strictly basketball perspective, this opens the already-wide-open A10 conference even more. The Rams of Virginia Commonwealth are in first place. Worthy threats Rhode Island, Dayton and George Washington universities follow closely after in the standings. Rhode Island has one of the best scorers in the conference with E.C. Matthews. Dayton dismissed two players but its remaining seven are playing lights-out. You’ll remember that the Dayton Flyers made the Elite Eight last year.
And, my personal favorite in this conference are the George Washington Colonials. Point guard Joe McDonald plays a well-rounded game that reminds me of long-time Philadelphia 76er Eric Snow. GW has an international flair and plays its own brand of lockdown defense.
Do not also discount the team that beat VCU on Saturday. Teams like Richmond, even UMASS and Davidson are not out of the conversation when you consider a conference tournament sleeper.
After his injury, Weber stood on the sidelines in crutches, itching to get on the floor and rooting his teammates on. As history shows us, this turn of events can go one of two ways for the VCU Rams. It could be an injury that the Rams can’t recover from. But I believe this will be the definitive rallying cry. The Rams will play their horns off the way Weber would if he were on the floor. Yes, Weber is a huge basketball loss. However, watch out for the younger players who get minutes they normally wouldn’t. They’ll be playing inspired basketball!