Wade: ‘HAVOC still lives here’

Kris Mason
Staff Writer

Will Wade, 32, was introduced as the new men’s basketball head coach at the Siegel Center on Wednesday, April 8. Photo By Pilar Curtis

Havoc still lives on at VCU with some changes.

In his introductory news conference, new VCU’s men’s basketball coach Will Wade answered the pressing question of whether Havoc would leave along with former head coach Shaka Smart.

“VCU basketball has a brand and VCU basketball is Havoc. And just so you all know, Havoc still lives here,” Wade said.

Havoc is the pressing, aggressive defense that became a staple under Smart. The term became synonymous with the program and the phrase became the primary marketing slogan of the team. However, the University of Texas board of regents filed for two trademarks for the phrases “Horns Havoc” and “House of Havoc” with the U.S. Patent office on April 9. VCU has trademarked the term Havoc in the state of Virginia, but not nationally.

Whatever the system is called, Wade said he will run a full-court press defense with some modifications to the one run under Smart. Smart’s system was a full-court press for the entire 40-minute game and man-to-man defense. Wade indicated that there would be some wrinkles in the system by sometimes playing a 2-2-1 press that would eventually transition into a matchup zone in the half court. Wade feels that it is important to have variations of the defense so the offense does not get too comfortable. He explained his reasoning through an analogy of baseball pitcher having multiple pitches.

“The matchup is just another curveball the team has to prepare for,” Wade said. “I always think if you just throw heat all the time, fastball, fastball, fastball, eventually they’re going to catch on and popping them out. So you want to have some knuckles, some changeups, you got to have some different things you can do.”

Wade was not always a fan of the zone defense.

After coaching under Smart for four years at VCU, he began his head coaching career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga by implementing the same Havoc defense, with the only change being the name. Now coined Chaos, the Chattanooga Mocs started out 4-8 and realized he would have to make adjustments. He then began to mix in a zone into his defensive scheme and his team began winning more often. The Mocs would finish the 2013-14 season with an 18-15 record and Wade would win the Southern Conference coach of the year.

Wade referenced that sometimes when teams break the Havoc press it leads to easy buckets for other team, and the 2-2-1 is designed to eliminate that.

“It’s somewhat of a safer press,” Wade said. “You are not going to give up as much easy on the back end of a 2-2-1.”

No matter what defense is used, Wade is sure expectations for VCU basketball will remain high.

Wade was former head coach Shaka Smart’s first hire when he got the head coaching job at VCU in 2009. Wade previously had been an assistant at Harvard University and Clemson University.

Smart had glowing remarks about Wade when he was hired by Chattanooga in 2013.

“UTC is hiring an absolute star in Will Wade,” Smart said. “Will is extremely bright, hard-working and diligent. No one will spend more time building relationships with student-athletes than Will. There is no question in my mind that he will be a tremendous success.”

Now, Wade will be tasked with sustaining the winning culture at VCU. It’s a challenge Wade said he is ready for.

“You have my word that my staff, myself will work extremely hard, harder than you can imagine to make sure this program continues to progress, continues to take steps until we are at the Final Four and we win the thing.” Wade said.

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