Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
At the beginning of the season, Men’s Basketball was picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.
Coach Mike Rhoades made sure his players knew that they were picked seventh — he plastered the message all over the Basketball Development Center. The Rams used that as motivation en route to winning the A-10 regular season title.
“There’s a lot of people still not picking us to win,” Rhoades said. “So be it. I think we’ve had an approach all year long, from last season, that we have to be who we are and one thing we talked about is being the hunters all the time.”
The Rams adopted the “hunt” mentality early in the season, wearing it across their chests on their shooting shirts.
“But just because you’re at VCU doesn’t mean you’re going to win, and when we play with an edge and we play with a fire in our bellies, I think that’s an advantage for us,” Rhoades said. “Something I want to make sure we replicate any time we go into a 40-minute game is, let’s go after people. Even though they want to beat us, it’s our mentality over anyone else’s.”
Many A-10 tournament projections don’t favor VCU to win the title. Players use that analysis as motivation, like they did with the seventh-place prediction. Redshirt-junior Marcus Evans said the teams’ emotions are the same as they were at the beginning of the season.
“We’ve seen that a lot of teams are expecting us to lose early, and so we take that as a disrespect,” Evans said. “So, we are going in with the same mentality that we started the season.”
Evans, who was named to First Team All-A-10, is averaging 14.2 points this season. Third team All-A-10 junior guard De’Riante Jenkins echoed Evans.
“The energy is at an all-time high, we feel like we’ve been disrespected,” Jenkins said. “We hear the noise once again, and we feel like no one respect the work that we did in conference so we just come in each day and working even harder.”
The Rams will face-off against Rhode Island tomorrow at noon in Brooklyn, New York.