The story lines didn’t happen by accident. There’s little doubt that Alabama would have never set foot in Richmond in December if Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant hadn’t felt some
love contractual obligation* for the program that gave him his start. Grant guided the Rams to two NCAA tournaments between 2006-09, which led directly to his big move to the SEC.
So Grant brought his Tide into Richmond, and went home thoroughly beaten. His former team, under the leadership of his replacement Shaka Smart, blitzed the visiting team, winning by a convincing 73-54 margin.
Smart’s “Havoc” defense racked up 11 steals and made shooting an uncomfortable nightmare for the visiting team, holding the Tide to 39% from the floor. Sophomore guard Levi Randolph was the only ‘Bama starter in double figures, barely notching ten points. Freshman Devonta Pollard led the Tide with 13 off the bench.
The Rams got 16 from free-shooting Troy Daniels, who hit 4-11 from deep. Treveon Graham (14) and Rob Brandenberg (10) were the other starters in double figures. Melvin Johnson, a freshman from the Bronx, added 12 in extended reserve minutes.
Alabama extended a three-game skid that brought the team to 6-3 on the season. With injuries striking the team, Grant must get creative to right the ship as quickly as possible – his Tide begins SEC play at No. 12 Missouri on January 8. VCU (7-3) is just beginning a four-game homestand, and will face preseason All-American C.J. McCollum and Lehigh on January 5.
*As pointed out to me by a sharp-eyed CBT commenter below, and by Marcus Shrock of VCURamNation, Anthony Grant is contractually required to schedule VCU as a term of his early exit from Richmond. Whether this means he actually hates VCU or is merely indifferent to the program is not clear at this time. Merry Christmas.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.