By TED SILLANPAA
Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth University’s brilliant young head coach, can’t really explain it. He’ll try and people will try to explain what he meant, what he was thinking. But, there’s no good reason for Smart’s fifth-seeded VCU team to have been pressing fullcourt against wildly overmatched 12th seed Akron with eight minutes remaining in the second half of a game the Rams led by 32 points.
VCU won the game 88-42.
I know that Smart plays every guy he has in uniform in every game. And, I know that what analyst Bill Raftery said is what coaches who press for too long and embarrass their opponent and themselves say: “It’s how VCU plays. We can’t change that. We do what we do.” Like Raftery, though, I just saw no reason for a magnificent, young coach like Smart to press Akron to the point of humiliation. And, honest, I’m usually the guy screaming, “If you don’t like it … beat the press!”
Smart’s just going to go on to become one of the truly great collegiate head coaches and I’m hoping he carries forward with him the values we like to see in coaches we admire. He’s been nothing but admirable to date … well, until his Rams were pressing with a 32-point lead.