Monday, March 28, 2011

Virginia Commonwealth: Officially Huge

Because it was one of the last teams in and forced to play in the early First Four round of games against Southern California, Virginia Commonwealth was known in many office pools simply as "USC/VCU." The Rams, the sudden darlings of all of college basketball, didn't even get the dignity of their own dedicated line in the brackets. They were that unimportant to the office bracket managers. Forget the surprising runs of Kentucky, UConn and even Butler to the Final Four in Houston. Two weeks into the tournament, VCU is trending on Twitter.
In the interim, coach Shaka Smart became a sensation and the team became an instantly likable group of underdogs. Just try and find a way to not like a squad that, in their practices, assigns one of three designations to opposing guards: Rondos, Wades and Kerrs. Rondos like to drive, Wades can drive and shoot, and Kerrs are deadly from beyond. In a twist fitting of VCU's run this tournament, the team actually ran into the real Steve Kerr at the Alamodome on Thursday. The team's sharpshooter, Joey Rodriguez, challenged Kerr to a three-point contest. Kerr went down 9 to 6, just another victim of the Rams, jumping out of the way of their rollicking magic pumpkin ride to the prince's ball. "I'm sure if he had a couple more warm-up shots," Rodriguez humbly admitted to John Branch of the New York Times, "he would have killed me."

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