Archie Miller and Shaka Smart last season at UD. David Jablonski/Staff
The Flyers play two programs heading in opposite directions this week.
Nine years after making the Final Four, George Mason is on its way to its second straight 20-loss season, something that hasn’t happened to it since the early 1990s.
Four years after making the Final Four, Virginia Commonwealth has risen to the top of the Atlantic 10. Despite the loss of one of their top players, the Rams share first place with Rhode Island with four games to play.
The Flyers host George Mason at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Washington Post wrote about George Mason’s “winter of discontent” last weekend:
The way George Mason’s 2014-15 season has transpired, it takes a hearty soul to spend two hours at Patriot Center. And Saturday’s snowstorm further dampened any lingering enthusiasm to see the struggling Patriots face Atlantic 10 co-leader Rhode Island.
As a result, the players’ chatter and Coach Paul Hewitt’s objections about the officiating were audible in the upper reaches of the green-and-gold-spattered arena during the home team’s familiarly lopsided, 71-56 loss.
Announced attendance (tickets distributed) was 4,740; the actual turnout was a little more than 1,500. Given the circumstances, both on the court and on the streets, it was more than reasonably expected.
Before hosting Dayton at 2 p.m. Saturday, Shaka Smart’s Rams play at crosstown rival Richmond on Wednesday. The Spiders handed VCU its first A-10 loss in January just when it was looking as if VCU might run the table in the conference.
VCU’s Briante Weber suffered a season-ending knee injury in the final minutes of that loss. VCU lost two of its next three games without him. Leading scorer Treveon Graham missed two games with an ankle injury and VCU lost both, but he returned and the team has rebounded with three straight wins.
Graham scored 24 points in VCU’s last game, a victory against UMass on Saturday.
From the Washington Post:
“Havoc” is a word often associated with the Virginia Commonwealth men’s basketball team, but “response” has characterized the Rams in February. Coach Shaka Smart preaches the concept, wanting his players to forget a bad play and perform better on the next one.
Injuries to two senior leaders and three losses in four games could have put VCU in a tailspin, but the No. 25 Rams have responded for a third game in a row, beating Massachusetts, 78-72, on Saturday afternoon at Siegel Center to maintain a share of the Atlantic 10 lead.
“We took it the best way we could,” senior Treveon Graham said. “Everybody had their way of getting over it. Response was what we needed.”