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Hours before VCU’s win over George Mason in the CAA tournament semifinals a month ago, the Rams were given a monumental amount of motivation when GMU guard Andre Cornelius Tweeted some smack-talk about the Rams.
Then they thrashed the Patriots.
Days before VCU’s win over Southern California and Georgetown two weeks ago, the Rams were yet again given another immense amount of inspiration when college basketball experts from across the country portrayed the Rams as an undeserving squad who had seemingly stolen berths from worthier teams.
Then they thrashed the Trojans, the Hoyas and the Boilermakers
So as last week wore on, Rams fans and media pondered this question ceaselessly: How would the squad be able to extract more encouragement and energy to keep their storybook season going?
This is how: mere minutes before VCU’s win over Kansas in the Southeast region final of the NCAA tournament, Kansas guard Brady Morningstar approached VCU senior guard Joey Rodriguez and told him ‘it’s been a great ride for you guys, but it’s time to go home.’
Rodriguez— who days ago said his only focus these past few weeks was to ‘be a great leader’— told the team what Morningstar had said in the locker room right before they came out for the first half.
Then they thrashed the Jayhawks.
Bulletin-board material is seemingly something the Rams can’t avoid these days, and that’s a good thing. Smart told reporters before the matchup with Kansas that, when the ESPN commentators bashed the Rams on Selection Sunday, he didn’t simmer; he smiled.
Because this team feeds off of that stuff.
No, make that flourishes.
The Rams are heading to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
Heck, they could have lost to Purdue last weekend and they’d still have made history.
So scrap history; this feels more like destiny.
Rodriguez Tweeted the night before the game with Kansas that, while the Rams’ may be shocking the world, they weren’t shocking themselves.
That’s a true statement.
This current crop of players has been through the most winning in school history. They’ve been teammates with two players who were first round NBA draft picks in Eric Maynor and Larry Sanders.
Plain and simple: They know how to win.
But they are proving something to Rams fans; they are proving that they are doing it their way. And, as if we couldn’t before, perhaps now we can say definitively that their way seems to be the right way.
Why can we say that so definitively?
Because VCU is one of the four remaining teams out of the 300-plus schools that embarked on this campaign some five months ago.
It feels so good to say it, so say it again: VCU is in the Final Four of the tournament these players grew up watching and aspiring so much to be a part of.
VCU players seemingly always find a way— one way or the other— to get disrespected. And when they do so, VCU’s players seemingly always find a way to respond, not with their sass but with their shot.
Let’s keep it that way.