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.