Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Sophomore guard Bones Hyland looked as if he was in pain as he was bent over, holding onto the back of the basketball hoop in men’s basketball’s Atlantic 10 quarterfinal win on Friday.
The officials stopped play for Hyland, who walked toward the sideline and pleaded his case to stay in the game. He was taken off the court at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, only to return moments later.
Hyland said he’s “all in” on his commitment to the team, no matter what.
“Coach just preached ‘kill or be killed,’” Hyland said after the 73-68 win over Dayton. “Whatever I can do out there, if I’m limping … whatever I can provide out there, I’m just trying to do it with my teammates, honestly. Just trying to show that I’m all in with them.”
The Wilmington, Delaware, native’s toughness led to a 30 point outburst against the Flyers, but it also rubbed off onto his team.
“He’s like a leader so whatever he do, the team, they see that,” freshman guard Ace Baldwin said. “They’re just going to move off with Bizzy [Hyland] just because he’s a leader.”
After beating Dayton, VCU will square off with Davidson in the A-10 semifinals at the Siegel Center on Saturday. Davidson beat George Mason on Friday night 99-67 in the final A-10 quarterfinal.
The Rams lost at Davidson in the Feb. 28 regular season finale 65-57, as the Wildcats shot 50% from the field in the second half.
“They both beat us last time we played them, so they’ll have confidence playing us here,” head coach Mike Rhoades said. “We got our hands full, it’s that time of the year but nobody cares. We’ve got to find a way to win.”
In the loss to the Wildcats, the Rams shot 36% from the field, including 21% from beyond the 3-point line. The black and gold cleaned up the shooting in the A-10 quarterfinal against Dayton, shooting 52% from the field and 35% from deep.
This year’s A-10 tournament is the first taste of postseason basketball for most of the VCU roster. The team was able to learn from Friday’s quarterfinal win as the Rams progress deeper into the postseason, Hyland said.
For Hyland, he said the team can learn from giving up a lead against Dayton on Friday in their game on Saturday.
“We let them get comfortable and start making a lot of threes honestly,” Hyland said. “They started to get comfortable and we just had to find a way to stop their run and stop their momentum plays.”
Rhoades said the team can learn the importance of finding ways to win late in games.
“In that moment, help the team win, whatever that may be,” Rhoades said. “That’s my big thing … be ready to play, make the next play, be ready for your teammates.”
The Rams will play against Davidson on Saturday at the Stuart C. Siegel Center at 9 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.