They don’t get any respect? Well, after these past 2 days, they surely earned it. Just ask their opponents, the higher ranked teams (unfortunately, they were all from the Big East) that they knocked off convincingly.
If I may be so bold to include Richmond in Northern Virginia region, there must be something in the water.
Perhaps it’s their proximity to the power of the Nation’s Capitol, that they need to make a statement; to not be overlooked. Truth be told, George Mason, VCU and Richmond all have something to say and they do their talking on that court.
The darlings of the NCAA tourney, the “relatively” underestimated teams from the Colonial and Atlantic 10 conferences are exciting to watch and basically elevating their games and in some instances are putting on a clinic.
George Mason, considered a “commuter school” in the Northern Virginia/D.C. area, has made its mark in the world of college basketball. They are quick to point out that they are the new GMason team and not the one of several years ago, who made it to the final four. Their gregarious, charismatic coach Jim Larranaga inspires his players by making basketball fun. Their style of play is schoolyard-like, they are fearless, self-confident and have nothing to lose. They will look for consistent play from Luke Hancock, Ryan Pearson and Cam Long.
VCU’s young well-schooled coach Shaka Smart, one of the youngest in the NCAA at a ripe old age of 33, coaches with attitude and swagger. He is so involved and enthusiastic; it is quite evident that he wants to suit up and get on the floor and probably would if he could. They handled the Hoyas with such ease last night. Their 3 point shots went unanswered. Their relentless full court press was unyielding. His rotation of 10 players allowed them to maintain the pace. Brandon Rozzell was on fire with his outside shooting and diminutive scrappy guard Joey Rodriguez took charge orchestrating the offense.
The Richmond spiders are back with something to prove. After being knocked off last year by St. Mary’s, they are on a mission to show they are for real and need to be dealt with. Will Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson continue their level of play as they try to advance deeper into the tourney?
The truth is these three teams deserve their due respect. They will face formidable opponents over the next 48 hours, and have one last chance to “prove themselves” on the national level.
We will see if one of these Cinderella teams will have their night at the dance. They can only hope that they are lucky enough to have the slipper fit and if they are even luckier they are Manolo Blahniks.