Wasting an Opportunity

Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series.

VCU is a team that is more than capable of winning the CAA regular season and tournament championship. The league is more even than ever this year, with every team able to win or lose to any other team. More than anything, VCU has potential. The word personifies many of the players on the team just as much as it does the ability of this team to be successful this year.

Senior forward Willie Taylor is a proven scorer, with the potential to put up big numbers night in and night out. Same goes for junior guard Dominic Jones and senior Antoine Willie.

Freshman forward Nick George is a Jerome-Williams clone, a gifted athlete that hustles on every play, skies for offensive rebounds and plays hard-nose defense. He has the potential to be a force on both ends of the court.

In the middle, junior Troy Godwin is a potential man-child. Even though he is an undersized 6’6, he is a space-eater that can hold his own inside and dominate the glass. Michael Doles, Derrick Reid and co. have the potential to provide valuable minutes and energy off the bench.

Of course, potential doesn’t always equal results. Even though all these guys have potential, the team has been disappointingly inconsistent. One day they can knock off a decent TCU team, then the next day look sluggish in a loss to a Drexel team that they should beat. Individuals have put together outstanding performances but have also disappeared in games.

The X-Factor is head coach Jeff Capel. He has the potential to prove to the rest of the CAA, and the nation, that he is more than a capable strategist and motivator, even though he is the youngest head coach in the nation. The man has something to prove, as does this team.

What does all of this have to do with you? It’s as simple as this: Good teams don’t lose at home. The fans play a big role in the game, more so than you probably realize.

Anyone who has played a high school or college sport knows the feeling of making a big play and hearing the roar of the crowd or needing a defensive stop and feeding off the noise and energy of the fans. The chants, the heckling and the noise in general can be intimidating and distracting to the visitors, and we as fans are responsible.for getting out to the games and participating, getting behind our Rams.

The players are out there representing VCU as best they can, playing to gain respect and attention for our relatively unknown school on the national scale.

Along with good players and good coaching, there is another big reason why Duke just doesn’t lose games at home: The infamous Cameron Crazies. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, catch a game on television sometime. You’ll see what I mean.

Look at the top teams in the nation this year. Of the top ten teams in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll this past week, none of them had lost a single game at home. Not surprisingly, each of these teams fill their respective arenas for every game, regardless of the opponent. Playing at home is supposed to provide an advantage but only if the fans do more than just show up.

I don’t think I’ve heard a chant of “defense” at any time this season. In fact, the most noise that everyone seems to make is when one of our players hits a three, because then the cheerleaders come out and throw shirts out to the crowd. That pretty much says it all.

The Siegel Center is a great place to watch a game; there’s not a bad seat in the house. But more importantly, it’s small enough that if you pack the house, and make noise, it’s going to make for a very intimidating atmosphere.

If we as students can provide this momentous advantage to our team, then we better damn well do that, because I for one would love to see this team make a run at the regular season title, earn a high seed in the conference tournament and pave the way to a possible NCAA Tournament berth.

Let’s turn the Siegel Center into a place to where teams fear traveling to and a place where our players enjoy playing. For once, lets give Willie Taylor and company a chance to go on a run during a game, fall back on defense and make some kind of motion to the crowd, raise the roof, etc.

If we can accomplish this, then maybe we’ll be ready for our ultimate goal as VCU basketball fans: taking over the Richmond Coliseum in March, where the CAA tournament is being held this year. If there’s one season where VCU can get into the NCAA tourney, this could be it. But it’s up to you.

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