Director Spike Lee attends the NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston

Spike Lee is a VCU fan?


VCU has plenty to play for down the stretch of the season.

The Rams will be taking on the Atlantic 10’s other new addition on Saturday, as they host Butler at noon in the first meeting between the two teams since the 2011 Final Four, when Brad Stevens took down Shaka Smart’s club en route to their second consecutive title game.

In a vacuum, that creates quite a bit of intrigue heading into Saturday, but there’s more at stake than simple pride. VCU is currently a game up on Butler in the A-10 standings and a game behind St. Louis for first place. A loss would end any chance the Bulldogs have of winning a share of the regular season title, while VCU doesn’t want to fall two games off the pace with just two games remaining.

And given the style of play that Smart teaches — Havoc! — and the way that he always demands energy and intensity out of his team, it’s hard to believe that VCU has ever had a “quiet” practice.

But, if it’s truly possible, a VCU practice last week was even more intense than usual thanks to a special visitor. From David Teel:

Spike Lee strolled into a VCU basketball practice last week. The renowned filmmaker, hoops maven and Reggie Miller foil was speaking on campus and wanted to check out coach Shaka Smart’s Rams.

“All of a sudden, it went from a good practice to a through-the-roof practice,” Smart said Wednesday of Lee’s arrival. :I probably would have been the same way when I was 18, 19 years old. The guys were just hootin’ and hollerin’. I’ve never heard out team talk so much. I wish we could take him on the road with us.”

That’s how you know you’ve made it as a basketball program.

It’s not the Final Fours or the games on ESPN or the sold out Siegel Center.

When Spike Lee wants to watch you practice, you’ve officially hit the big-time.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman¬†that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.