Weber’s style of play epitomizes VCU

Junior guard Briante Weber waits for the offense to set up during VCU’s 81-70 win against the University of Richmond on Feb. 1. Photo by Audry Dubon.

Colin Kennedy
Sports Editor

Long arms, quick feet — That’s the short story behind Briante Weber’s defensive success. But watch the kid in the white headband play for 30 minutes and you’ll notice he’s far from normal.

Weber doesn’t necessarily possess supreme athletic ability. He doesn’t lift more weights or run more suicides than other guards across the NCAA.

He just wants it more.

Weber’s passion for defense is uncanny, evidenced in part by the gaping smile he wears each and every night he takes the floor.

The other side of the equation is his endless energy and unmatched effort. He covers more ground and reaches more loose balls than most opposing coaches can comprehend. He’s the player opponents dread facing.

No matter how much you prepare, you can’t mimic Weber in practice. You can’t replicate his speed or account for his anticipation. Some foes have tried placing seven defenders on the floor prior to playing VCU, but even then we’ve heard coaches claim they underestimated the wide-grinned bandit.

Head coach Shaka Smart built his program at VCU around high-pressure defense and the third-year point guard epitomizes the Rams’ havoc system. The coach recruited Weber out of Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Va. four years ago, and Smart says he wouldn’t change a thing.

“Defensively, there could not be a better player for our style of play,” Smart said. “You could say ‘pick anyone around the country to fit the way you guys play defense,’ and I would say ‘no, we got the one we want.’”

It’s a perfect marriage that has helped transform Weber into VCU’s new career steals leader. He’s racked up 260 thefts through 94 career games in a VCU uniform, but it’s not the school’s history books Weber is aiming for.

At his current pace, Weber is on track to total 120 steals this season — and that’s not including tournament play. So if the country’s most talented thief can stay healthy, Weber would need just 91 steals over 32 games as a senior to eclipse John Linehan’s NCAA record of 385.

It’s not unreasonable to suggest he will average 2.8 steals a game next year, especially considering he nearly touched that mark as a sophomore. But perhaps more realistic is the chance Weber will be the first college basketball player ever to record 400 steals.

We can examine box scores and analyze the numbers all day, but here’s my main message: As fans, we should step aside for a moment to consider what we’re witnessing; to appreciate a player who may only come around once in a lifetime.

Sometimes we overlook the facts and fail to recognize how spoiled we are to attend a school where the basketball program plays such a prominent role in our culture. But Briante Weber’s energy and enthusiasm on the court can serve as that reminder.

Perhaps the greatest part is the way Weber does it. He’s like an overgrown child taking candy from kids at the playground. Only Weber’s antics are justified and, in this world, he’s stealing from full-grown men who’ve dedicated a majority of their lives to the game of basketball.

With the man they call “Bri,” what you see is what you get. That guy diving for balls on the hardwood is the same Weber you’ll find cracking jokes at the postgame press conference. He’s a dual-purpose catalyst for VCU, setting the defensive tone on the floor and holding the Rams together off of it.

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