Press Box: VCU men’s basketball’s seniors aren’t to blame

Illustration Karly Andersen

Joe Dodson, Contributing Writer

Coming into the season, men’s basketball was predicted to finish first in the Atlantic 10. That hasn’t gone as planned for the Rams, and fans on social media have directed much of their displeasure towards the seniors on the team.

A big reason for the hype was the return of five seniors who had plenty of starting experience going into the year. After losing five straight games in the A-10, many fans have given up on this team. Confidence from the fans plays a big part in players’ performance, so giving up on our seniors in their final season only makes things worse. 

A member of a VCU basketball Facebook group claimed that 90% of the team’s faults are due to the seniors. 

Another in the group commented that this senior class has the most unrealized and wasted potential of any class at VCU. 

During redshirt-senior guard Marcus Evans’ final college season, he has been bombarded with criticism over his form. The pressure of a new 4-star recruit in freshman guard Bones Hyland on the roster has only made the criticism worse. 

Fans have compared Evans and Hyland all season. Due to his high scoring volumes, Hyland has been a beacon of hope this season. Some fans on social media wanted Evans’ starting role to go to Hyland as early as January.

Evans has had a couple of cold streaks, along with multiple injuries, but he scored 25 points against Alabama State and played a huge role in beating LSU with 15 points. 

Instead of taking this less-than-stellar season off after several injuries, Evans has embraced a new role. He has become a mentor for Hyland and is often seen giving words of advice on the court and from the sideline.

Senior forward Mike’l Simms was averaging 2.4 points during the Rams’ five-game losing streak. At last Saturday’s win against George Washington, Simms proved the seniors are still committed to this season. He took on a larger role, as the team was missing four key players. Simms went 4-for-5 from 3-point range, while adding six rebounds and a steal. Despite many fans counting out this season and this group of seniors after losing five straight, Simms put in effort and got VCU back in winning form. 

This season has been difficult for redshirt-senior forward Issac Vann, who has dropped in scoring and rebounding. Even though there have been calls for less playing time for Vann, coach Mike Rhodes has kept him as a starter. A lot of fans tend to overlook the reality that Vann’s defense is essential to the team’s success. 

If this year has done anything, it has shown just how great a future VCU can have. Hyland and Marcus Santos-Silva have been impressive, as well as sophomores Vince Williams and KeShawn Curry, who both have taken big steps in their development. 

While fans look ahead, our seniors are focused on the now. The seniors have done amazing things over the years, and with their final A-10 tournament just weeks away, anything is possible. 

6 Comments

  1. Have you looked at the seniors +/- while on the court? Looked at their output? This season is on Coach Rhoades AND the seniors. Awful coaching, awful adjustments, terrible rotations, and no real floor leadership. The only times we show a spark is when the younger players are in. The senior class has checked out and that’s on them and coach. If seniors are not to blame.. then who is with all this talent?

    • I believe the starting and most productive in the team weren’t played enough. They should have most of the playing time and when taken out 3-4 or more were taken out at a time. The team never got used to playing as a team. For rest only 1-2 at a time. I saw some of them making awesome plays and taken right out. Yes you need a backup but not with constitantly taken out the best players on the team and put in all freshman. Except Bones that is.

  2. Welcome to college basketball! Pinning all your personal hopes and dreams on 19-21 year olds is less than fair. Enjoy the seven straight years of NCAA tournaments and last years over performance and A-10 coach of the year. Support our boys and VCU basketball or stay home and off twitter. We’re behind you guys, Brooklyn awaits. I’ll be there to support all the hard work you put in this season.

    • You can still support a team and be critical. Are you a real fan if you accept average to below average coaching and effort this year when they have the potential to do so much better? Nobody is pinning hopes and dreams here – I support the team and attend or watch every game. If you cant stand criticism as a public figure, coach or athlete then you should find another “career”.

  3. This team should have won 20 games and made the NCAA. Now they won’t even make the NIT, it’s embarrassing. I’m not close enough to know where to point the blame but the responsibility falls on the coaches and supposed leaders of this team.

  4. After following VCU for a decade now, I must say this is the worst coached team my limited experience with the Rams has seen.
    It’s obvious that I miss the Havoc-Smart style of play, but even Coach Smart left as the team clearly began to decline.
    The final four appearance made the next generation of players think VCU was bigger than it is. It’s a mid-major at most, and should be prepared as it. But instead, there’s this added pressure where everyone thinks they can compete with the stallions of the country. They can’t. They don’t have the money behind it. VCU isn’t Duke, obviously. But VCU isn’t Butler either. It’s worse than that. It’s an a10 team (which is an improvement from the CAA, but not by much), and should be content when it makes it to March. With this attitude of bigger than they are, however, March after March will come, and VCU will stay behind… dreaming of smarter days.

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